Pharmaceutical Mayhem

Team: 37


Area of Science: Hydrology

Problem Definition: Our group's problem hasn't changed much from our abstract but is becoming clearer and better defined. Our main focus is on pharmaceutical pollutants and how they degrade over distance and time in surface water. With Albuquerque beginning to use surface sources for our water needs, this issue is becoming increasingly important. Most places have been over looking pharmaceuticals in the water but the USGS has recently begun testing for them since their impact on public health is largely unstudied but potentially dramatic. We intend to use the USGS data to model and predict the levels of certain pharmaceutical pollutants in the Rio Grande valley.
Problem Solution: The solution is to better understand the impact of upstream sources of pharmaceutical pollutants in water systems so we can better predict the possible health issues involved.
Progress Data: Thus far, our group has met twice with our mentor, Joseph Sterling, Associate Hydrologist with CH2MHILL. Generally during the meetings with him we talked about how to map water flow and how underground water sources have created things like the Carlsbad Caverns. We have also received articles from him talking about water movement and generalized treatment processes. The group has also received a textbook that goes over the fundamental components and numerical models surrounding pollutants, with source code provided in BASIC. The textbook has a lot of extremely advanced stuff in it so we will be continuing to look to Mr. Sterling for help and guidance. He is also looking into a possible tour of the new Albuquerque ground water treatment plant, which they are building in the north valley. As a group we have also visited the USGS website to view the freely available ground water models available, so that we can better understand the types of solutions that have already been used for similar problems. We also realized that we might be able to use a simpler network model since our project deals with source locations that can be viewed as single points on a string.
Expected Results: We expect to be able to generate a computer model of the concentration and degradation of pharmaceutical pollutants in surface water over distance and time. This model could be generalized to apply to a number of different pharmaceuticals compounds.

Team Members:

  Alexander Smith
  Jeremy Harris
  Kelly Lanahan
  colin clausen
  Ryan Mayfield

Sponsoring Teacher: Joseph Vertrees