Tamie Jovanelly, Berry College – Water Quality

Water is a powerful tool and an important resource.

Tamie Jovanelly, associate professor of geology at Berry College, determines how experiences can change people’s relationship with this life-giving force.

Dr. Tamie Jovanelly is an Associate Professor of Geology at a premiere institution called Berry College. She received her PhD from Kent State University, her MS from University of Nebraska, and her BS from University of Michigan. Over 15-years her research has been broad scoping and impressive. Most recently, she is sole author of a monograph titled, Iceland: Tectonics, Volcanics, and Glacial Features (Wiley, 2020). In continuation with her investigations in climate change shereceived a Research Scientist position on a cruise to Svalbard in 2021. Additionally, she is classically trained as a hydrologist and has completed water quality assessments on 5 continents comparing developed, undeveloped, and developing countrieswhile focusing on major river systems (Nile, Ganges, Amazon, Mississippi, etc.). In 2017-19 she was awarded a US Fulbright Research position with Nacional Universidad (Costa Rica) to study water resources in national parks. This came after she completed her first Fulbright Research assignment (2013-14) with Makerere University (Uganda) where she focused on forest hydrology; a project funded by the National Geographic Society. She has published journal articles in Sustainable Water Resources Management (in press), International Journal of One Health (in press), Journal of Public Health in Developing Countries (2016), Journal of Water and Health: World Health Organization Press (2014). Furthermore, she received a RuffordFoundation Conservation Trust Grant (2015) that supported a collaborative research project with the Kenyan Wildlife Service.Dr. Jovanelly now serves as a US Fulbright Specialist (2017-20) whereby allowing her to consult on world-wide water conservation, allocation, and quality issues.

Water Quality

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“What is the best way to promote clean water for all?” To answer this question first a baseline water quality assessment must be completed whereby identifying the physical, chemical, and biological signatures of the water body. These variables include eight parameters that are considered to be the best indicators of watershed health. This data collection involves extensive field work in remote areas that are often heavily forested.  The goal is always to collect as many samples as possible while hiking along the banks of rivers as they flow downstream. Once the data is collected it can be used to compute a Water Quality Index value. The WQI is reported in terms of a percentage and can be used to easily communicate watershed health without scientific jargon. That is a WQI of 100% means the water quality is excellent, whereas a ranking of 50 is bad.   By using the WQI as a tool to discuss water management with stakeholders it has become apparent that solving any water crisis must start with the understanding of human attitudes towards their environments. For example, Africans tend to be terrified of the Nile River because they often do not learn how to swim during childhood, and understandably, they have a deep-rooted fear of the hippos and crocodiles that live in the water. Oppositely, the people who live in India worship the Ganges River as a holy entity, even referring to it as “The Mother Ganga”. Ultimately, people relate to waterbodies very differently because their experiences within their environments are not the same.  To promote the conservation of rivers the perception towards them must be considered or the message will not be received.

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