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Educational engagement surrounding water quality in Jackson, Mississippi
Proceedings of the 2020 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2020 Authors: Willett K.L., Otts S., Surbeck C., Hopper T.
Through University of Mississippi (UM) Community Wellbeing Constellation funding, our team was able to develop three community engagement initiatives to enhance water quality education in the state. Educational activities included: 1) developing and teaching an honors experiential learning course on drinking water quality; 2) conducting community-based participatory research on residential drinking water; and 3) developing a story map highlighting the water infrastructure challenges in the City of Jackson. The course was designed to familiarize the students with timely issues in drinking water safety and distribution and to use a variety of literature, interviews and media reports to propose solutions to water issues in MS. The students toured and reflected on both the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant and the UM Wastewater Treatment Plant. Two drinking water lead testing events were conducted in Jackson in collaboration with partners at Rosemont Baptist Church and the Mississippi Urban League Baby Café. Twenty-eight samples were tested, and two had concentrations of lead above 5 ppb, which is above the allowable level for bottled water set by FDA. Finally, the team is developing an ArcGIS Story Map outlining and explaining for a general audience the issues surrounding Jackson's drinking and wastewater infrastructure and how those deficiencies contribute to public health problems in the city. With these activities, the UM team continues to work with communities to uncover the link between water quality and health in Mississippi.