Professor Diba Khan-Bureau
Date of Speaker: February 12, 2014
Dr. John Lane
Water Resources in the Developing World
Dr. John Lane was a pleasure to listen to in Class. He is very educated, involved, and good at what he does. Dr. John W. Lane is a chief of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) office of Groundwater, with a branch of Geophysics since 200l, and is a radiologists on Earth. Dr. John Lane earned a bachelors degree from the University of Connecticut. A lot of his work revolves around water. From his professional pages, i’ve obtained more information on what exactly he does. He develops and supervises Branch technology transfer activities, including applied research, support for USGS Water Science Centers, and geophysical training for USGS hydrologists. With that much being said about his background, i’m now going to go in depth with what Dr. John Lane discussed during our seminar, the messages he was trying to convey, and the overall gist of the seminar.
With a vocation in assessing aquifers, Dr. John Lanes heart and soul lies on helping improve water resources in the developing world. Much of his vacation time is not spent relaxing on the beach, but instead in Central America and Developing countries working on projects of where to set up wells in order to give places clean sanitary drinking water. The seminar started off with some facts about water around the world. I’ve learned that 80% of all illnesses in developing countries are due to dirty, unsanitary, and unsafe water consumption, and that 17% of children die from diarrhea. In the United States, we don’t hear much of children dying from diarrhea, or woman on average having to walk seven miles just to get drinking water (that has not even been purified yet). Most people in developing countries don’t have a safe drinking water source, and that is why John Lane is determined to use his education and make a change with it. Right now i’m drinking from a Poland Spring water bottle that I just grabbed out of the fridge. I never stopped to think about how easy I have it. Whenever I’m tired and feel yucky from a long nights sleep I get up and take a shower. “An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day” (UNICEF,WHO 2009). I dream of having a big fancy mansion and car, and people in developing countries are dreaming of fresh water. I’m so grateful of what I have, and really appreciate what others are doing that have the ability to help people in impoverished areas. It is crazy to think about how lucky we are because of the area we live in, and who raised us. I wish everyone was equal, but sadly that is not the case.
The seminar focuses mainly on the challenges and opportunities of working on projects in developing countries to supply those in need with fresh water using wells. When taking an engineering design approach, there are things that need to be investigated before a well can be drilled. Things to be taken into consideration would be, what kind of problems is the place in need facing? Are they going through a dry season where their streams dried up and there has been no rain? Or maybe there is a contamination problem. When deciding where to put a well, or what kind of well, the area needs to be studied. What type of well being placed could make a huge difference, for example, putting in a well that needs electricity in order to work, in an area with no electricity, would be a big problem. Once the problem has been address, a plan needs to be formulated, then development work is conducted. However, to ensure that the well suits the needs of the people, they need to be placed in areas that is reachable, meaning within walking distance from their homes. A good place to set up these wells, and where Dr. John Lane usually recommends, is at school systems and medical clinics. If a well is at a school system, its a community piece, and children could even bring water home to their families.
Dr. John Lane was a pleasure to listen to in class. He uses his education to help others, and believes in community effort. When he works on projects, and wells have been planted, the wells need to be maintained. If in the area the people are uneducated about wells and there is no maintenance service to check up on the wells, then things could easily go wrong. It is then his job to help educate them about how to make sure wells do not get contaminated by doing monthly checks, and if they do so, how to fix it. Sometimes wells faucet pieces break, so teaching them how to replace such things and having a ready supply stored just incase, can ensure that the well keeps working properly. He wants to make sure that the wells are a community piece, that everyone will take care of it and appreciate it. He leaves the class with a quote “theres opportunities out there, you just have to each for them”, and with this being said, I think he inspired the class to get involved with his volunteer programs. Great class!