Beginning Ethical Consideration of Water Development and Allocation - Peter Ralston (Boston University School of Theology):In an increasingly pluralistic, fast, and dynamic world, technically-trained practitioners in the water business more and more face the complication of dealing with social as well as technical problems in their work. Moral claims about water present in these social controversies, whether they invoke human rights or other principles, challenge technically-minded people in the water business to enlarge the scope of their practice by becoming more involved with the societies in which their finished work will function. Often, their educational and professional training affords little time to become familiar with ways of thinking about these problems that might allow them to be more clear and confident about the decisions concerning water that they make.
As part of an answer to this challenge, this project aims to develop a brochure, ?Promptings Toward Conscientious Care of Earth?s Lifeblood: Water?, that organizes a series of questions that engineers, economists, planners, clergy, activists, and others may ask themselves to start clarifying their views about water development and allocation. The purpose behind this questioning is to help practitioners prepare themselves over time to make discerning judgments about these emerging aspects of the business, so that they may participate more knowledgeably, more effectively, and more fruitfully when working with others to decide how water may be developed and used in particular situations.
Given the far-reaching practical consequences of decisions about water and about the legal and moral principles that are being brought to bear on those decisions, the promptings in this brochure are not intended to be imponderable or academic. Rather, they are meant to help engineers and others bring to the surface, reflect on, and clarify their understanding of the work that they and other practitioners do. So the questions hope to help them examine their intentions and responsibilities, professional and personal; identify the talents and abilities that they offer and can build up, given their expertise and experience; and foresee the consequences of their decisions for themselves, for those with whom they contract, and for those many who will be affected by the choices they make.
This presentation will summarize some of the work about water management and about human rights that has already been developed for this project, present two to three promptings as examples of questions for people to ask themselves, and invite questions, comments, and suggestions from the audience about how this work might be improved to enhance engineers' education or practice, or that of others.
Biography - Peter Ralston (Boston University School of Theology):
I received a Masters in City Planning in computing and environmental planning in 1992 and have worked at Boston's regional water authority in a number of different positions since then. Overall, my work has involved helping to develop and maintain databases that hold long-term water quality monitoring results, both for drinking water and receiving water. I also worked to develop and produce regular reports on water quality from each set of records.
I entered Boston University's School of Theology two years ago to work part-time toward a Masters of Divinity degree with a focus on theological ethics concerning ecological problems. Following from my professional experience and my commitment to Quaker faith and practice, my intent has been to clarify some ethical questions about oversight of water, which has involved reaching out to and talking with people from a number of different educational and work backgrounds. My current effort aims to foster a discussion among and between people in these groups ? engineers, economists, scientists, planners, business managers, line workers, ethicists, clergy, and others ? about what questions they should be asking themselves to improve on current practice in the water business. Climate change, population growth, and water supply problems in areas around the globe are adding some urgency to this concern. Since water issues are increasingly controversial in numerous places, one of the goals is to help technically-trained people in the water business prepare themselves to make well-reasoned judgments where technical problems present only one part of the challenge to their abilities and skills.
Water Filtration and Purification in Peru - Jeremy Schein (Boston University):
Discussion of lessons learned on our summer 2009 assessment trip. Description of our project, our relationships with the community and the regional government, and of our plans moving forward for the next year. The presentation will probably more focus on some of the unique challenges we've been dealing with, stemming from our recent assessment trip - coordination with engineers and government officials in developing nations.
Miramar Water Project in El Salvador - Prineha Narang (Drexel University):
The Miramar Water Supply Project is the first project our chapter took on in 2007 when we were established. Goals of the project include supplying water to the refugee community of Miramar in El Salvador. In our presentation we would like to discuss our experiences with the 2 assessment trips, an attempted implementation, further plans and how this has been a learning experience for our chapter. This project ran into some troubles initially with the well drilling attempt with Living Waters not being successful due to rock formations in the area which led to a hydro geological survey and now we are looking at an implementation in the next 8-12 months with funds from families down in El Salvador and a better location for the well. We would like to talk about the 'transformative' nature of what we learned from this project, our experiences with educating the community on water and health related issues (while the logistics of implementation were being worked out) and how this project really got our Chapter off the ground from 10 people to about 400 people now.
Hope River Bridges in Jamaica - Prineha Narang (Drexel University):
Middleton is a rural, coffee and vegetable farming community of nearly 1,000 residents in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. Almost every year Jamaica lands in the path of a tropical storm or hurricane. The eastern parishes bear the brunt of these storms by suffering the majority of the rainfall and wind. It is no surprise that these vulnerable communities tend to have battered and damaged infrastructure. In Middleton,two bridges that are essential for the community were destroyed by tropical storm Gustav. Drexel EWB recently completed an assessment trip to this community and we would like to discuss our results as well as design ideas for the two bridges. Our presentation would cover how we are utilizing senior design team options to design the bridges in conjunction with the Drexel Engineering Cities Initiative. We would like to talk about our story starting from how we got involved in this project and what we plan to do in the area.