Finally, a real "work" update. We have a couple of different projects going on, but our highest priority is to do the groundwork so that the tribe's community college, Oglala Lakota College, can process water and soil samples for various tribal programs. These include stream water quality samples, drinking water samples, and environmental soil samples.
We are working on preparing a report of sorts that we can take around to get feedback and buy-in from all the different groups involved. For the last few days I have been searching out EPA-approved protocols for around 50 different parameters and trying to match them up with the list of equipment at the lab to see how many of them can actually be done here. The NSF grant has gotten Oglala Lakota College an impressive array of equipment, so it seems like they actually have the capability to run the majority of the parameters needed, which is great. I'm starting to go a little dizzy from all the high tech machines and intensive chemistry protocols, though.
The big challenge is going to be the funding aspect and making sure that the income from the tests is enough to cover all of the cost of supplies, maintenance, and personnel. We are also working on figuring out how to make this a dual education and service initiative by exploring the potential for improving the college's lab course offerings and summer internship programs, with the goal of developing a training program for students to become technicians in this or other labs.
Meanwhile, however, the only real chemistry we've been doing has been kitchen chemistry. Last night I boiled some carrots and forgot a few in the water. In the morning the water had turned a rather bright green color. Check it out...
If anyone has any idea where this color came from I'd be very interested to know. Copper ions maybe??
Also, since we made sun tea again I thought I'd post a rather more satisfying picture of how the tea darkens.
Another project we are helping with is an ongoing project to re-design the solid waste management system for the reservation. They currently have nine transfer sites that everyone has to drive their trash to. They are hoping to be able to switch to a household pickup system which would be more convenient for people and facilitate a monthly fee to generate revenue for the waste management system. We are going to help prepare a GIS layer with all of the homesites, businesses, schools, and tribal and federal programs to figure out how many dump trucks are needed to cover the whole reservation.