Friday, June 10, 2011

Sooners Help Clean Water in Bolivia

Alyssa Grimley/The Daily
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Six OU students, all members of Sooners Without Borders, and one OU staff member returned from a two-week engineering service trip to Potosi, Bolivia on June 2.

The students, along with staff and students from St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, spent the trip constructing a limestone channel to treat contaminated river water in Potosi.

Rachel Rogers, a member of the small group that made the trip to Bolivia, explained the work the group did while in the country.

“We implemented a limestone channel outside of Potosi, Bolivia,” Rogers said. “Water flowing out of mines is contaminated with metals and this flows downstream and adversely affects crops and livestock. The limestone channel we are implementing is part of a larger project which will help filter out metals from the stream.”

Despite the technical nature of the limestone filtration system, the work the OU team did was largely physical, Rogers said.

“We physically put the limestone into the stream,” Rogers said. “We took samples of the water and cleared out other rocks.”

The group’s goal was to make the contaminated stream usable for crop irrigation, Rogers said.

This project is a step closer to serving many underprivileged communities, Aissata Cisse, environmental engineering graduate, said in an email.

“I felt that this project could be a good way to get started in the developing world because I am from Mali, a developing country where I would like to realize this kind of project,” Cisse said.

Engineering physics senior, Dillon Carroll, called the trip an idealistic college student’s dream.

“The trip was a chance to put the engineering principles and knowledge I’ve been learning into practice to benefit others,” Carroll said.

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