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CEE Professor John Schwartz Publishes Results of Research Project Focused on Rural Appalachia Region’s Water Access

CEE professor John Schwartz has published a paper about a rural Appalachian region’s access to clean water. The Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project was a 3-year funded research project by the US DHHS and headed up by the College of Nursing, partnered with the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, and the College of Architecture and Design. Additional authors include Erin Arcipowski, doctoral student in the College of Nursing; Lisa Davenport, project director for the Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project; Meghan Hayes, Clinical Instructor in the College of Nursing and Project Manager for the Project; and Tracy Nolan, Directory of Community Outreach at Red Bird Mission in southeastern Kentucky, the region in focus.

The research began with the testing of collected water samples, which revealed 15 of 16 sites contained fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, or both. Because of the findings, the team and community key informants collaboratively developed interventions, such as relaying findings to community leaders, developing a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene)-related education program, and improving access to clean, safe water through the design and construction of a water kiosk. With the design and construction of a water kiosk, Jenney Retherford, PhD, in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department managed two groups of senior design students collaborating with architectural and nursing students during this effort. Outcome of interventions included greater awareness and knowledge of WASH related topics, improved access to clean water sources, and sustainable solutions to enhance overall quality of life, health and well-being.

Click here to read the full research paper.