CEE engineers with community leader Uridy Marte
Thanks to the multitude of jobs created by the area's tourism industry, Veron has become one of the main points of migration in the Dominican Republic. While this has been a boom for the area economically, the transitory nature of much of Veron's population presents unique challenges for community development initiatives. This summer the Puntacana Ecological Foundation hosted two timely and in depth university studies in order to better understand these constantly changing communal dynamics in Domingo Maiz before the Fuentes de Vida project breaks ground. First, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) with the help of the Peace Corps realized a detailed community health analysis from May 5 - 12. The survey was developed by Gallop Poll to investigate a broad range of key social and health indicators such as: education, family dynamics, employment history, recent health history as well as communal environmental issues. The survey built upon previous studies executed by Save the Children in different barrios throughout Veron in 2009. The results of the study are being compiled into a final report which will then be shared with the Neighborhood Association of Domingo Maiz by early Fall 2013. This study will serve as a "before" snapshot which will then be followed up with another study after the system has been completed to see if the newly implemented sanitation systems have a quantifiably positive impact on the residents' health - if so then Domingo Maiz could truly serve as a model community for the larger municipality.
The second university study was executed by Virginia Tech's Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE). The Fuentes de Vida project was originally inspired by a 2011 CEE ground water contamination study, which led CEE professors John Novak and Mark Widdowson to recommend the constructed wetland sewage treatment system as an effective vehicle for stemming the flow of effluent water into the community's water source. Since then CEE has continued to be a crucial partner, consulting on every aspect of the Fuentes de Vida project and returning every summer to continue their studies on well water contamination in Veron. Their annual work has produced the most complete database currently available to the community of Veron and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation by identifying contamination hotspots that pose health risks to the residents of Veron. This year's studies examined contaminant levels over time as water is pumped form the well to observe if contamination rates decreased as theoretically cleaner water is drawn from deeper in the aquifer. As with all of its community studies the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, along with the aid of Peace Corps volunteers, communicate the results of these studies back to the community members and well owners as soon as the reports are finalized. The final goal of these studies is not only to better inform the Fuentes de Vida project but to also better educate the community members about potential environmental/health risks in their communities.
In other news, the magazine Good Company recently wrote a piece about Fuentes de Vida and sent down two photographers to document the community and the project. The issue is available now in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Also in recent months, all members of the Fuentes de Vida project have put forward a great effort to raise funds for the construction of the constructed wetland treatment system through grants, fundraisers and awareness campaigns. The community of Domingo Maiz has made it their goal to raise enough money to begin construction before the end of the calendar year, which means your help and contributions via Global Giving could make a huge difference for 500 residents in Domingo Maiz.
CEE engineers testing well water in Domingo Maiz
CEE engineers reviewing the future site of the CW