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Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar
Rose Daily, PhD Student, Environmental Engineering, Michigan Tech
Nature-Based Engineering: Development of a Biogarden to Manage Greywater Discharge in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Goal 6 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure global access to water and sanitation for all. However, the UN’s 2022 data indicates that six out of ten people globally lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities, implying that large amounts of wastewater enter the environment untreated. Costa Rica, a developing country located in Central America, is no stranger to this concept. Although Costa Rica has established water discharge laws, a lack of enforcement and resources has resulted in greater than 95% of all greywater discharge entering the environment untreated, leading to eutrophication of waterbodies and an increased risk to public health. The Monteverde Zone, located at the top of the Guacimal watershed, is a key player in this issue, as greywater discharged in this zone flows downstream, impacting a large number of communities. While centralized water treatment is currently not feasible in this developing country, biogardens are an affordable, decentralized, nature-based solution to Costa Rica’s greywater problem that utilize filtration techniques, plant uptake, and microbial degradation to effectively treat greywater. In this study, I design and construct a biogarden system for the Centro de Educacion Creativa K-12 school, located in the Monteverde Zone, to effectively treat their greywater to compliance levels. In addition to engineering a natural and effective treatment system, I develop a series of open-access tools and resources to aid in educating the local community on the greywater issue and biogarden development.
Rose Daily is a current graduate student at Michigan Technological University pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering. Her research interests include water treatment in both developed and developing countries, nature-based engineering solutions, and community sustainability education. In the fall of 2021, Rose moved to Monteverde, Costa Rica to complete a 1-year research affiliation position with Monteverde Institute. On MTU’s campus, Rose is known for co-founding the Sustainability Demonstration House and leading the project for the first 5 years of its life. She earned her BS and MS in environmental engineering through Michigan Tech in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Rose is funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). In her free time, Rose enjoys working on community sustainability initiatives, hiking, gardening, and traveling.
Michelle Bollini, MS Student, Environmental Engineering, Michigan Tech
A Kinetic Bioaccumulation Model for a Mining Impacted Aquatic Ecosystem
The Keweenaw area continues to be influenced by the copper mining activities that occurred close to 100 years ago. This project is focused on Torch Lake, an aquatic ecosystem that was heavily impacted from mining waste disposal. The watershed has been impaired by mine discharge and tailings, smelter and smokestack plumes, and poor waste disposal practices. Some of these activities caused contamination with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs). POPs are characterized as undergoing long-range transport, being resistant to metabolic transformations, bioaccumulating and biomagnifying in ecosystems, and having negative impacts on human and ecosystem health. The lake is listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern as high concentrations of PCBs and mercury result in restrictions on fish consumption and represent a beneficial use impairment. In this research, a kinetic bioaccumulation model was developed using MATLAB to estimate steady state concentrations in each trophic level of the Torch Lake food chain. The model predicted concentrations agree with the steady-state model, AQUAWEB, and with concentrations measured in walleye, a top predator fish in Torch Lake. The model can predict the time required for recovery of the ecosystem following remediation actions such as removal of local sources of PCBs to the lake. The mechanistic model is helpful for predicting a useful schedule for water quality testing and for examining the diversity of ecosystem responses to perturbations and remediation efforts.
Michelle Bollini is pursuing an environmental engineering master’s degree after completing her undergraduate degree at Michigan Technological University. She became a team member of the Tribal Landscape System (TLS) project during her summer research at Michigan Tech. That opportunity sparked her interest in minimizing contaminant risk and protecting human-environment relationships in local communities. She’s also a member of the cross country/ track team and in her free time enjoys exploring the outdoors.
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