May 11, 2017
On April 24, 2017, Decision Center for Desert City, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, conducted an Open House and Student Project Showcase. Students of the School of Sustainability showcased what they learned and researched during their internships. The projects primarily focused on water-related research, and the students worked on different aspects of water saving schemes.
The Open House had several posters portraying various research projects. Martin Carvajal, who participated in the Internship for Science-Practice Integration (ISPI) worked on a project to create a viable framework for comparing different water resource strategies. He said, “It is essential to conserve water with systems that operate with high amounts of water such as cooling towers and Storage Recovery Wells.” He also mentioned that his project will never be complete as new frameworks can be created to further conserve water resources. When asked about where his career interests lie, he said, “I would like to pursue a career in transportation and water resources and do something to mitigate drought that many states are facing.”
Makenna Welsch interned at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to explore how water exchanges could help Arizona water users conserve water, “Water exchanges could make it easier for water users to share Arizona’s limited supply of Colorado River water for continued water security and economic prosperity,” she said. She also recommended internship opportunities at EDF which involve working in real-world projects.
Sydnee Andress, another Sustainability student, did an internship with the Water Wise Gilbert Program. When asked what prompted the idea for her project, Andress said, “The project aims at auditing commercial businesses to provide feedback on how to become more water efficient. Although Gilbert has sufficient water to meet current demand, water conservation is viewed as one cost-effective way to ensure adequate water supplies now and into the future.” Andress, who is graduating this semester, is targeting a career in social sustainability which involves community related work.
Sustainability major Miranda Kincade did research on the dollar values of various tree services. Kincade worked alongside the Flood Control District of Maricopa County (FCDMC) to distinguish the stark characteristic differences in various tree species at Sonoqui IIA in Queen Creek, AZ. She estimated a dollar value for each benefit the trees provide. Her research found that the FCDMC spends approximately $100 per tall-pot tree. The tall-pot trees at Sonoqui IIIA provide several community benefits valued at roughly $2,380 per year. That equals about $7.91 per tree per year. This may seem like a small amount when compared to what is being spent, but each year the dollar value increases as the size of the tree increases since they take in more pollutants and avoid more water runoff. If the trees were at maturity, they would be worth $67.77 per tree/year. Since trees are a long-term investment, the net worth of the trees at Sonoqui IIIA is bound to increase.
Every student had a DCDC faculty mentor who helped them throughout their internship for ISPI. “My mentor Leah Jones guided me throughout my internship and helped me grow professionally,” said intern Margaret Tucker.
Several other projects were exhibited at the Open House, each uniquely helping to find solutions or pathways to conserve water for the present and the future.