In addition to completing 40 units of formal coursework, graduate students in the Environmental Hydrogeology MS program must complete and defend either a MS thesis based on original research, or take a comprehensive hydrology exam based on their MS program of study. Student choosing the comprehensive exam must also complete and orally defend a special project. This project can include a smaller research project or a technical internship with a local environmental agency or organization. In a new option developed specifically for this proposal, graduate students choosing the comprehensive exam option will be required to establish and develop a community service project involving community groups or other entities in a pertinent water resources topic. The 13 topic may include an environmental protection issues, an environmental justice issue, or a pertinent watershed analysis and policy issue in the community. Appropriate groups might consist of non-governmental organizations, K12 schools, church groups, community organizations and centers, and water resources agencies. Project plans and memoranda of understanding will be prepared and submitted by graduate students and will be signed by entities partnering in this plan. Students will be required to develop and have approved a prospectus outlining how the partnership will benefit the partnering community group and the student. Ideally graduate students will develop partnerships with groups or entities in their own communities, be they low-income communities or other communities.
Mr. Didi Yap, a student of Indonesian (Pacific Islander) origin and now a permanent US resident, is working with the City of Maywood California to determine sources of excessive iron and manganese in the cities’ municipal drinking water. The City of Maywood is located in a low-income community near CSULA, about eight miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The City has a population of 30,000 covering an area of about one square mile. According to 2000 census data, 96% of the population was Hispanic. The median income of the household population in Maywood was $30,500 whereas median income in the US was $42,000.
Frank Cheng, a graduate student born in Hong Kong and now a permanent US resident, is working with the City of Los Angeles on a project to divert urban runoff to underground water treatment systems at Garvanza Parks, near CSULA. The project focuses on the removal of trash, sediment, bacteria and metals in urban runoff before runoff is routed back into storm drains, eventually discharging into the Pacific Ocean. This type of community service work is key because it controls and treats pollutants sourced from within the local community.
Ms. Luz Vargas, a student of Mexican heritage and now a permanent US resident is working with the California State University Desert Studies Center (DSC) to determine the origin of salinity in the shallow aquifer at the Center. We classify this project as a community project because hundreds of students and faculty use the DSC each year as a base camp for launching classroom and research projects in the Mojave Desert. DSC depends entirely on shallow groundwater at the center for its domestic water supply. Thus, Ms. Vargas’ project serves the CSU community.