Water for the World

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Instructor: Smith
Credits: 3

Field Class: Costa Rica Download Syllabus

Potable water is essential for human life. Throughout most of the industrialized world, advanced water treatment systems incorporate fundamental physical, chemical, and biological principles into engineering designs to produce high-quality water at relatively low cost to consumers. By contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about one sixth of the world’s population (about one billion people) have no adequate water supply and less than one percent of the population in developing countries is served by sewage treatment facilities. Life-threatening water-borne diseases, particularly among children, are common in economically disadvantaged communities throughout the world. In this course, we will examine complex issues associated with providing potable water to the world’s population. Topics will include the use of surface and ground water as potable water supplies, the fundamentals of water chemistry, the science and engineering principles used in the design of modern water and wastewater treatment and distribution systems, and the problems associated with providing potable water in economically disadvantaged communities, refugee camps, and developing and underdeveloped countries, including Central and South America. Case studies will be used as appropriate to demonstrate these issues and will include a case study of the Guatemalan highland community of San Mateo Ixtatan.

Special Requirements:

  • CHEM 1610 Introduction to Chemistry for Engineers or equivalent
  • APMA 2130 Ordinary Differential Equations or equivalent (recommended, but not required)
  • CE 3210 Fluid Mechanics (recommended, but not required)

Field Class

Country: Costa Rica

Students will get a complete overview of the "Waste 2 Energy" project at Mundimar, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands. A visit to the fruit processing facility, which focuses on bananas and other fruit juices along with dehydrated topical fruits, approaches wastewater management issues with innovative solutions. Here the wastewater management system utilizes anaerobic lagoons in conjunction with a hermetic biogestor. The biogestor yields a biogas byproduct which supplies energy to the plant. All parts of the system, including how the effluents from the biogestor are used as fertilizer, will be discussed. Students will observe many components in this environmentally friendly system that uses no chemicals for wastewater treatment, removes greenhouse gases, uses no electricity for water purification, and produces organic fertilizer.