Lessons from Water for Health

——By Katherine Santizo, PhD student of Water INTERface IGEP and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Virginia Tech.

The seminar class, Water for Health, has provided multiple viewpoints on the importance on water quality. Throughout the semester we have discussed through readings and presentations the extent of water use. Overall, I have learned that water quality is not just important in our households but in the ways that are food and beverages are produced. Water quality in multiple industries has an impact on human health.

I have learned multiple ways that water is regulated and used in beverage industry, food production, water distribution, and wastewater systems. This class has taught me that water resources needs and must be an interdisciplinary process between public health, food science and technology, water resources engineering, and environmental engineering. We as scientists who focus on water-related topics must know the multiple ways in which water is used and maintained.  Water for irrigation can end up as runoff in rivers which can then be processed in water distribution facilities and/or wastewater facilities. Water used for beverages are consumed but can also end up in the wastewater facilities through our sewers. Animals which have ingested contaminants through their water drinking may then transferred to the consumers. Thus, contaminants have multiple pathways in which they can end up in our bodies and effect human health.

All in all, water is used for multiple aspects of our daily lives and is required for over 90% of the biomass on Earth and thus maintaining water quality is not just a matter of drinking clean water, cleaning in clean water, bathing/showering in clean water but its about maintaining clean water sources so that all can enjoy the resource without health dangers. We need clean water for the fish in rivers and oceans, birds who migrate and stop at rivers and lakes for hydration, land animals who eat the fish and hydrate, and the plants who uptake the water to grow. Their health impacts our health and livelihood as consumers.

How we use water for agriculture, aquaculture, energy production, and consumption is all intertwined and part of a larger cycle. As water resources become more stressed, the balance of the system is in danger and scientists/engineers who take part in these systems must be able to communicate and understand the processes. This seminar ultimately taught me that I have to take part of the larger water community, including listening to the non-scientists whose everyday lives are affected, to understand all its facets and hopefully improve as a water resources scientist and engineer.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment