Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017VI267B

Water Ambassador Program III

Institute: Virgin Islands
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $19,849 Total Non-Federal Funds: Not available

Principal Investigators: christina chanes, David Morris, Stanley Latesky, Norton Orange

Abstract: The United States Virgin Islands is a small territory to the east of Puerto Rico that consists of three main islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, and a few smaller, mostly unpopulated islands. There are no significant sources of surface water and minimal groundwater due to the high relief of the islands. A significant proportion of the population of these islands draws their water from cisterns that collect rooftop water. The rest are dependent on groundwater sources. Everyone must purchase water purified by reverse osmosis when there are no other sources. Streams in the Territory are sporadic and heavily impacted by erosion from construction activities and ongoing road repair and construction. Youth in the Territory will have to deal with these issues in the future as the watersheds on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are heavily impacted by ongoing development that has increased impervious surfaces and diverted runoff into new and unstable channels. This project seeks to expand the Water Ambassadors Program II (WAP II) funded in the last grant cycle. WAP III promotes synergies between researchers, government agencies, public schools, and the public centered on watershed protection education, climate data collection, and reporting about the state of the landscape in watersheds. WAP III includes adding more weather stations, expanding the data collection network, and increasing access to the public by including youth on all three islands to learn about hydrology. New this year, youth will begin to use the data collected by researchers to understand algorithms to visualize weather patterns using station data from across the Territory for the purposes of modeling to begin to see the impacts of drought and or rainfall. In addition, WAP III introduces computer science to the youth in the program. Youth will also test water and soil quality and document their findings, and will take a hands-on approach to installing and learning about calibrating the weather stations in their schools. This proposal also builds upon previous proposals that involved creating a weather station network Territory-wide which helps researchers in the region to collect data necessary to make a drought declaration should it be needed. WAP III will also introduce youth to additional experts who can explain and encourage a better understanding of drought impacts, how those data can be used to improve understanding of drought vulnerabilities and to further develop and target strategies for drought response and mitigation. WAP III also connects to the University of the Virgin Islands Etelman Observatory which is using the data from the weather stations to build climate models of when the observatory telescope should be opened and closed and it also connects to the Department of Agriculture, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez for data collection and water management prediction. This proposal specifically requests funding for a third year in which we will enter more public schools on St. Thomas as well as spend more time with youth on St. John and St. Croix, add to an expanding network of weather stations that will be used in schools, further cooperate with the Department of Agriculture, the Observatory, make more climate data available to the public, and help further develop a culture of citizen reporting of environmental problems and hazards in the Territory.