SIUE’s Inaugural Water Symposium Highlighted a Broad Range of Experts

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Water Symposium-LinWater is a unifying, life-giving resource and is something everyone needs to survive. This underlying  message was the reason that Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC) held its inaugural Water Symposium on Wednesday, April 24 at the Morris University Center. 

“Regardless of how you look at water, whether it’s from the perspectives of supply, water treatment, waste water treatment, surface water run-off or infrastructure, the need to address these issues is important  for the overall sake of water preservation and supply,” said Matthew Maas, ERTC director. 

The idea of a water symposium came after speaking to School of Engineering (SOE) Dean Cem Karacal and SOE Associate Dean Christopher Gordon, according to Maas. 

“We had originally talked about having a conference on World Water Day, which is March 22, but after talking to Dr. Connie Frey Spurlock, making the symposium part of the Earth Day events seemed to fit, as well,” continued Maas, who is a Sustainability Action Group (SAG) steering committee member. Frey Spurlock, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, is the SAG chair. 

Water Symposium-Ksherty“The goal of the Water Symposium was to bring all the stake holders together, let them speak on their areas of expertise and network for the purposes of collaborative problem solving and gaining more knowledge,” Maas explained. 

 “We did just that,” he added. “The symposium was a success.” 

Besides Maas, other speakers included: 

  • Rohan Benjankar, PhD, assistant professor in SIUE’s Department of Civil Engineering, spoke about his research on water resources engineering, floodplain physical habitat, aquatic and riparian ecosystems and river restoration. 
  • Pat Gleason, of American Water Works Association, discussed his work as an e-Learning/Engagement specialist and his previous work as the State Rural Development Coordinator for the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, where he led the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP). 
  • Vic Hamer, founder of the non-profit Christian organization “Give Me Water Lord,” discussed his work drilling water wells for people in Kenya and shared the great need for clean water in desperate areas of the East African country. 
  • Nina Kshetry, founder and president of Ensaras Inc., shared her experiences in process engineering, project management and business development. She spoke about her work with municipal, industrial and agricultural wastewater treatment projects, including projects that involve recycle and reuse of wastewater and energy recovery from wastewater. 
  • Zhi-Qing Lin, PhD, professor in SIUE’s Department of Environmental Sciences, shared his research related to the biogeochemistry of environmentally important trace elements, phytoremediation and constructed treatment wetlands. 
  • Kevin Tucker, PhD, assistant professor in SIUE’s Department of Chemistry, presented some of his research that deals with analytical and environmental chemistry, and his tracking of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in their journey through the environment using field research and laboratory modeling. 

The ERTC mission is to equip students with the job skills and resources needed to thrive in this industry, thereby creating a competent workforce. The ERTC training center is specifically designed to accommodate students’ unique needs. ERTC offers specialized courses for both entry-level personnel who are preparing for a career in drinking water and wastewater treatment systems, and those already employed in such systems seeking additional education to upgrade job skills, obtain advanced certification levels, and prepare for positions that are more responsible. In addition, ERTC offers courses for licensed plumbers in cross-connection control or backflow prevention. 

Photos:
Zhi-Qing Lin, PhD, professor in SIUE’s Department of Environmental Sciences, was one of several featured speakers at SIUE’s inaugural Water Symposium. 

Nina Kshetry, founder and president of Ensaras Inc., gave a presentation that included talking about some of her agricultural wastewater treatment projects.