Friday, October 24, 2014

A Journey with Save the Harbor

It has been a long journey with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. On my first day back in January, I knew nothing about beach water quality, about flagging accuracy. And now I am confident to say that, under Bruce's direction and guidance, our water quality team knows every bit about it, and is actively making continuous effort to make us heard in policy making process. It is very lucky for me to have the opportunity to be present at meetings discussing outfalls monitoring prospect, beach water quality standards, and alternatives to meet EPA beach guidance for grants, hearing government agencies sharing their perspectives. It is both challenging and fun. Sometimes we need to take other people's standpoint and think from their perspective, then we can stop complaining, be patient, and that's when we actually start to help.

As I am from China, I started a project to study the difference between the two countries in the subject of beach testing and notification for the sake of public health. Since I live inland China and rarely go to coastal beaches, I almost had no knowledge of Chinese beaches. The project provided a great chance for me to get to know my country better. Interestingly, I find physical safety (reef, tides, wind, water depth, etc.) receives better attention in China, and marine bathing beaches still use fecal coliform as microbial indicator while many US states made a switch from fecal coliform to enterococcus in beach testing decades ago as EPA believes enterococcus is a more effective indicator for human illness in marine waters. To study the contamination source of marine beaches, I researched waste water treatment situation and sewer systems in both countries. I was surprised to know lots of waste water treatment plants in small cities/towns could not afford maintenance costs in China, or don't have enough sewage to treat while untreated sewage keep pouring into rivers. The owner and workers of the plant even grew vegetables to make money so that they could keep the plant running while having enough to support them. It is generous but sad. And the awkward situation happened because the construction of waste water plant was way ahead of the installation of collection system. After all, it was poor planning.

Working at STH as an intern has not only broadened my beach knowledge, but also brought me into the marine science and monitoring world, which I feel could remain one of my interests for a long time if not for ever. Thanks for Bruce and Patty's generous support, I enjoyed working with everyone here. Smart Jingwei, cheerful Amy, cute Kelly, knowledgeable Ian, helpful Lindsay, professional Sue, talented Charlie, insightful Ben and dedicated Rachel, I will miss all of you.

Never say goodbye, cause I will see you soon!

Yudan Jiang

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