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Water and Public Health Research

Innovative. Transdisciplinary. Collaborative. Translational

Research at IWH supports its mission to prevent adverse effects of rapid urbanization and climate change on water availability and quality; protect human and ecosystem health; and promote community-driven solutions that develop and sustain healthy water environments through high-impact research and innovation for the generations to come.  


Sustainable Water Resources

As Coastal Georgia’s population is expected to be one million people by 2060, there will be more demand for water to meet municipal, industrial, and agricultural needs. At IWH, through state-of-the-art technologies, researchers along with our regional partners seek solutions to water demand challenges associated with water demand, watershed management, and saltwater intrusion. 

Learn More About our Ongoing Projects

  • A Pilot Web-based Water Dashboard for Coastal Georgia Regional Water Board – GA Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources (GADNR): The principal activity of this project is to work with the Coastal Georgia Regional Water Planning Council and CDM Smith, Inc. to develop and pilot-test a web-based “water dashboard.” This dashboard will present a snapshot of historical and current hydrologic conditions across the region based on publicly available datasets from selected representative gauge sites. A regional pilot area and screened dataset at the Georgia coast will help the team to cost-effectively develop a demonstration project, evaluate the required effort level and complexity for design and deployment regionally, and assess the potential/challenges for broader-scale implementation. 
  • Water Quality of Private Wells and Household Drinking Water Systems  – With generous donations from Evans County CARES Foundation, this project has been supporting water quality research in rural agricultural parts of Georgia. The results of this study have been instrumental to develop targeted interventions to protect communities from hazards associated with groundwater contamination in private wells and household distribution systems. Students had opportunities to practice research and community engagement skills and two doctoral dissertations have been completed through this project so far.

Waste water treatment plant

Advanced Wastewater Management

As coastal economies and populations grow, industrial, agricultural, and municipal activities in Georgia require new approaches to manage wastewater. IWH supports regional needs by providing innovative technologies while protecting the environment.

Learn More About our Ongoing Projects

  • Developing sustainable practices for co-digestion of food waste and paper mill sludge leveraging existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure – US Environmental Protection Agency. Led by Drs. Stetson Rowles, Francisco Cubas, and Asli Aslan, this recently funded project plans to conduct a feasibility study to advance the understanding of how existing Anaerobic Digestion capacity at pulp and paper mills can be sustainably leveraged for the treatment of food waste from university campuses.
  • Integrating Algal Turf Scrubber Systems with Wastewater Effluent to Enhance Discharge Quality and Increase Algal Production – Led by Drs. Anthony Sicardi, Rocio Perez, and Asli Aslan and supported by the Statesboro Wastewtarer Treatment Plant, the goal of this project is to remove nutrients (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorus), heavy metals (i.e. selenium, nickel, zinc, copper, cadmium, lead and arsenic), emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals and personal care products, endocrine disrupting compounds, per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, flame retardants, etc.) and antibiotics (oxytetracycline, tetracycline, erythromycin, ormetoprim, etc.) from freshwater, brackish water, and marine effluent wastewater streams while producing a usable algal biomass (i.e. conversion to biofuels, bioplastics, and ceramics). 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and People 

At IWH, our researchers use cutting-edge water quality monitoring tools to identify and mitigate sources of pollution and develop new approaches to address emerging contaminants, ultimately making coastal waters safer for people.

Learn More About our Ongoing Projects

  • Adopting rapid testing to monitor water quality at Georgia Beaches – GADNR
    • A thriving coastal economy has strong ties with sustainable tourism and fisheries that require a healthy coastal environment. Human activities impact coastal water quality which causes frequent issues of health advisories, disease outbreaks, or limitations on expanding shellfish growing areas, ultimately impacting the local economy. Funded by the GADNR, anf led ny Dr. Asli Alsan, Risa Cohen, and Haresh Rochani, and in collaboration with the Coastal resources division, this project this feasibility study will improve our current capacity and knowledge for rapid beach monitoring using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Once adopted by state wide routine beach monitoring, this method will omprove public access to beaches by decreasing the number of advisories either through avoiding false positives or taking immediate, same day action.

Environmental Education and Justice

For the people living in Coastal Georgia, climate change burdens vulnerable communities the most; they have been already disadvantaged in terms of health disparities such as living in poor housing conditions. At IWH, we create an active network of community, government, and academic partners to develop a collective strategy for building next-generation resilient coastal communities.

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Hens Hatching Hope Survey

Global Water and Health

Challenges at the intersection of water and health do not stop at the state line. Georgia Southern University utilizes the expertise of IWH staff to build public impact programs across the world.

Learn More About our Ongoing Projects

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Last updated: 4/6/2022