Water Quality, Outreach, and Wellness (WOW) Lab

Email: 
rerosenb@umd.edu

The WOW lab conducts interdisciplinary research around water - analyzing microbial water quality, the most effective ways to communicate about water quality, and the perceptions and behaviors related to water use. In addition, the WOW lab is exploring the beneficial impacts of urban agriculture and gardening on health and wellness.

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The WOW lab conducts interdisciplinary research around water - analyzing microbial water quality, the most effective ways to communicate about water quality, and the perceptions and behaviors related to water use. In addition, the WOW lab is exploring the beneficial impacts of urban agriculture and gardening on health and wellness.

We would love you to join us in our exciting research and outreach projects! Please contact Dr. Goldstein at rerosenb@umd.edu if you are an undergraduate, graduate student, or postdoc interested in opportunities.

 

RRIPER (Rooftop Runoff Irrigation Produce Eaten Raw)

Summer intern collecting water samplesSummer intern collecting produce samples

The RRIPER (Rooftop Runoff Irrigation Produce Eaten Raw) program led by Dr. Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein in the Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland seeks to evaluate the quality of harvested rainwater and rooftop runoff used to irrigate produce. Using alternative water sources is increasingly important as we face a global water crisis. It is crucial that every drop of water be used wisely, including water that falls as rain or runs off our roofs. Despite the abundance of rainwater barrels in use in Maryland, gardeners have previously been advised against using harvested rainwater or rooftop runoff to irrigate gardens because of water quality and food safety concerns. However, studies on the microbial and chemical quality of harvested rainwater or rooftop runoff are limited and contradictory.
During the summers of 2018 and 2019, the RRIPER program analyzed rooftop runoff, soil, and produce grown with rooftop runoff for bacterial indicators (total coliforms and E. coli), pathogens (Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes), and heavy metals (aluminum, cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc) in vegetable raised garden beds using a subsurface irrigation system supplied by rooftop runoff in Frederick, Maryland. While the water quality data of the garden beds at the coalition is still being analyzed, prior research has shown that community gardens with stormwater management systems can increase community wellbeing and protect environmental resources (Tom et al., 2013). The Frederick garden site has shown social benefits of harvesting stormwater runoff, including community engagement and improved access to fresh produce. More detailed information on the Frederick raised vegetable garden beds can be found in the University of Maryland Extension fact sheet “Watering Seeds of Change with Rainwater”. We plan to continue our work to evaluate multiple types of rainwater and rooftop runoff harvesting systems to assess their safety for irrigating fresh produce.

 

 

Principal Investigator: Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein, PhD, MPH
Collaborators:
Claire Hudson
Leena Malayil
Suhana Chattopadhyay
Sarah Allard
Manan Sharma
Amy Sapkota
Drew Ferrier
Marcus Williams
Kelsey Brooks
Andy Lazur
Jon Traunfeld
Neith Little

Project Sponsors:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture through CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food & Health;
University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Initiative Implementation Team: Optimize Urban Environments Through Design, Green Technology and Community Engagement

CONSERVE

CONSERVE Extension team collecting surveys

CONSERVE (COordinating NontraditionalSustainable watER Use in Variable climatEs): A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food, and Health’s mission is to facilitate the adoption of transformative on‐farm treatment solutions that enable the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water on food crops. Climate change and population growth are stressing our freshwater resources, requiring the exploration of alternative water sources, including reclaimed water (highly treated municipal wastewater). Finding reliable, safe irrigation water is especially important for farmers as agriculture is the largest water user worldwide and in the US. For water reuse in agriculture to be a viable option, buy-in from farmers is crucial.
As the co-Project Director of Extension for CONSERVE, Dr. Goldstein led a multi-region needs assessment survey among farmers on nontraditional water use opinions and communicated research results to growers, local and state regulators, and other interested parties through multimedia outreach and educational materials as well as through in-person workshops and community events. The CONSERVE Extension team is increasing understanding and acceptance of water reuse in agriculture among non-agricultural communities through outreach and education activities.

 

 

Principal Investigator: Amy R. Sapkota, PhD, MPH
Co-Project Director of Extension: Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein, PhD, MPH

Project Sponsors:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Moving Beyond the “Yuck Factor”: Measuring brain responses to water reuse terms and determining if natural environmental images change responses

Water reuse (the beneficial use of reclaimed water) is becoming increasingly necessary as climate change and population growth stress freshwater resources. While government agencies, scientists, and the water industry have recognized the importance of water reuse, an commonly cited barrier is consumers’ negative perceptions - the ‘yuck factor’. There is an urgent need to determine how to increase public acceptance of water reuse. Education could be instrumental for changing perceptions, but to date there has been a lack of outcome studies on the effectiveness of water reuse education.
This study’s goal is to improve acceptability of water reuse by determining if educational videos modulate perceptions of water reuse terms. We are measuring changes in neural activity in response to multiple categories of water reuse terms pre- and post-exposure to water reuse education videos using electroencephalogram (EEG). The results from this study can validate and increase the effectiveness of water reuse education materials using objective neurocognitive measures. The integration of psychology into water resource educational efforts will aid targeted education campaigns which will impact communication, acceptance, and policy.

 

 

Principal Investigators:
Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein, PhD, MPH
Edward Bernat, PhD
Project Sponsor:
Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) at the University of Maryland (UMD)

Gardening & Health Survey

Promotion of gardening and health survey

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders have resulted in increased levels of anxiety and stress. There have been several news articles written about the increase in seed sales and the benefits of gardening, however there are been limited scientific studies about if gardening and reduced anxiety are significantly associated. We have developed a survey to determine the increase in gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic and if gardening is associated with reduced stress and anxiety. The results of this survey will be used by University of Maryland Extension (UME) educators in addressing and directing future educational programming and resource development for existing and beginning gardeners.

This survey is open to all individuals who are at least 18 years old and located in the United States.  It is estimated that the survey will take 10 minutes or less to complete. The survey is anonymous and does not contain questions that may personally identify you. Please complete the survey only once. The survey will be open until June 1, 2021. Thank you for helping us identify ways to reduce stress and provide gardening information.

Principal Investigator:
Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein, PhD, MPH

Collaborators:
Marcus Williams
Naomi Sachs, PhD
Jennifer D. Roberts, Dr.PH, MPH