Monday, August 3, 2015

Regime Change for Humanitarian Aid

How to make the humanitarian system more accountable

More of this discussion about the role of NGOs in the US Global Health Response:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sand Filter Update

Our Environmental Sampling class students setup the bucket sand filters to evaluate these simple low cost solutions for water filtration.  This is a model filter that can be completely built from items supplied from a big box hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe's. A previous blog details this.

  I've made some videos detailing the setup and construction process.
Video 1

Overall setup.  
  • Bottom has a perforated 1/2" pvc pipe with an elbow up to top
  • bottom 2 inces has 3/4" gravel
  • above that is 2 inches of 1/4" gravel
  • 10" above that is 0.3mm sand

Type of sand to use:  We sourced our sand and gravel from sepulveda building materials on Waterman street in San Bernardino.  The staff there are helpful in selecting the correct grain size of sand and gravel. .

Videos to detail the actual experiments will come in a later vlog / blog. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trip to GWRS

I brought the ENVH 569 students to the Ground Water Replenishment System GWRS in Orange County. Its an impressive facility and would have turned me into a full fledged Civil Engineer if I was any younger. It is refreshing to visit such an advanced approach to our drought in California. 
 The lab was also impressive. Those folks are progressive with their approach to testing all potential contaminants. The lab was designed with tours in mind and we could easily peer into windows with the lab techs hard at work.
 Everything is setup with tours in mind.

 We were all invited to taste the final product. Most students had the overwhelmingly surprising response: "It tastes like water".
 It is a clean facility that is designed for visitors to nose around on tours.

Our requisite blue helmet shot!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Simple sand filter construction

My water quality students in ENVH 568 built these sand  filters for a class requirement. They are now up and running in the LLU Environmental Microbiology Research Laboratory. We will use them for some class activities in the ENVH 569 sampling class. 

We started with a design and then a trip to the hardware store

We dry-fit the pieces together in the hardware store. This is where the students realized that there are many possible combinations.

Students discovered that there were a few possible combinations of diffuser pipes and spout exit styles. Our class built five filters with varying construction.

All filters had about 2 inches of 3/4" gravel around the pipes with another 2 inches of pea gravel on top of that (1/4" gravel). Those were separated by a cloth to minimize sand going into the gravel and then the bottom diffuser pipe.

Sand was added on top of that until it was about 2" below the spout. Our filters tested varying heights.

There were 5 filters built and are now hooked up to a recirculating water system. They will be tested for arsenic and E.coli removal in our ENVH 569 class.

Monday, April 27, 2015

UAV to deliver aid in Syria

This group uses the same UAV airframe that I bought a year ago from Johnny at team legit.
Its being used for a good use to bring aid into Syria. The BBC video is worth a watch. The group has a non profit called the Syria Airlift Project.

My current project Talon fixed wing has a Pixhawk flight controller, a downward facing Canon sx260, and wing extensions.  I'm still deciding if I want to run a large 4s or 3s battery.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 3D printer in a lab.

Dr. Steve Kurti's TTinvent allowed our lab to borrow his Afinia 3D printer for 2 months. In that time, we printed many useful things for the lab and the ideas keep coming!

Here are a few of the successful prints we made:

Links on Thingiverse:
A clamp for the microscope
A centrifuge tube holder
Pipette rack

A clamp to turn a 1967 microscope into a digital microscope!
A centrifuge tube holder!
Finally! A cuvette holder for that old HACH spectrophotometer.
Many pipette holders.
Octopus Surprise Attack!

Global Site for IWRM: Integrated Water Resources Management

The Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) of the Coachella Valley was a complicated process. A single water user would have a hard time jumping in and making sense of it all. There are resources for Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) to use, but most people would require advocates or a third party to interpret all of the "IRWMPese".  How can this process be simplified to truly advocate with the DACs?

The IRWMP process offered me a glimpse of the vast landscape we created for our unique drinking water delivery system and wastewater management system in California. The website for the Coachella Valley IRWMP says it all. There are a huge amount of drafts, presentations, participant lists, budgets and maps. Keep in mind that this is for only the Coachella Valley region ( about 5 water districts).

My experience with the IRWMP was summarized in a  report on their website:  That report is referred to as an appendix and is on page 127 of that appendix PDF.  Our report and work contributed to more of the reports in the DAC section. Our work with the "Non-Profits" El Sol and Pueblo Unido is described in that DAC section. Those non-profits are the key to any single water user's understanding of the process and should be the first resource.

The California IRWMP process is large and  unnecessarily complicated for the smallest of communities. California isn't alone in the IRWMP tedium. It's a public process that has evolved over time and is internationally known. The World Bank and WHO have sites on it and there is now a global movement to better understand and advocate for the disadvantaged.  The Global Water Partnership has a great optimistic definition of the process:

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

What we experienced in the Coachella Valley is no different from what goes on internationally. The GWP is a good resource to gain external perspective on our own internal processes. They have a road map of sorts and help us understand this necessary .....process.

Friday, April 3, 2015


3D printed glasses from thing 22128. I modded them to say "Career Services"