Press release “Reducing groundwater pollution: Good management practices of nutrients and wastes”

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Under the framework of the FOWARIM project a 5-Day Course: “Reducing groundwater pollution: Good management practices of nutrients and wastes” took place at the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain) from 9th to 13th January 2017.
The course consisted of theoretical and applied classes in campus and a field trip to the “Campo de Cartagena”. A summary of the course content is here below enclosed.
The technical field trip objective was to present the participants the integrated water management and agricultural practices taking place in the Campo de Cartagena (90 km South of the UA), one of the most important agricultural areas of Europe. The visit also included the participation of three stakeholders: the Farmers Association of Campo de Cartagena (Comunidad de Regantes del Campo de Cartagena; www.crcc.es), The Arco Sur Farmers Association (Arco Sur Mar Menor Comunidad de Regantes) and IGME (Geological Survey of Spain, www.igme.es). Several small brackish water desalination plants (groundwater) and wastewater treatment property of the stakeholders supplying irrigators with suitable water for their crops were visited.
In a hole, 16 participants, 8 from Malta and others from Spain, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico (PhD students at the university) attended the course. The lecturers included 3 professors from the UA, and 2 from the UPC.

The syllabus of course content is:
− Lecture 1: Groundwater. Introduction; The hydrologic cycle. Parameters; Groundwater hydrology. Aquifers parameters; Flow in porous media: Darcy law; Water chemistry. Groundwater chemical characteristics. Chemical constituents. Isotopes; Groundwater quality and pollution process.
− Lecture 2: The Alicante’s University Quaternary aquifer; Geological context; Climatic characterization; Hydrogeology of the province of Alicante; The UA quaternary aquifer; Groundwater and Wells. In situ sampling and monitoring.
− Lecture 3: The vadose zone. Introduction; Water movement in the unsaturated zone; Richards equation; Water uptake by plants; Measuring and monitoring in unsaturated zone; Solute transport.
− Field Trip: Integrated water management and agricultural practices taking place in the “Campo de Cartagena”; Farmers Association of area; Arco Sur farmers association and IGME (Geological Survey of Spain).
− Lecture 4: Drafting research proposal. Research and innovation; Drafting research proposal; Scientific Method; References; Manage references with software.

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Student’s feedback

During the training, it was launched  a facebook group to which the attending students were invited to contribute. Here are their contribution, with comments and opinions.

Timothy Pace-Lupi

Basically I think the course in Alicante was very valid and relevant for our specific situation in Malta. The training offered was excellent with very well versed lecturers/experts who provided us with a much needed crash course on Ground Water management. I found however found that although the Lecturers were very helpful and did their very best in the given situation, there were some technical problems. Firstly the e-cloud system we had to register within was in Spanish and was also very complicated to use. Two attendees (myself included) could not register within the system and had problems right throughout the course due to this. Wi-Fi internet was not available without registering within the same online system. I also think that had the initial day of the course been dedicated to registration, orientation and technical issues we would have avoided all these technical problems and would have had time dedicated to this purpose. Finally I felt that the site visits were rather miss-planned as we were made to understand we would visit actual boreholes and farms using the different water sources when in reality we were taken to a Producer organisation and given a lecture on these and then taken to an RO plant. Apart from these two points as I already said the course was very relevant and the lecturers did their very best and went out of their way to make our stay at Alicante a positive experience. I can definitely say that overall it was in fact a very positive experience.”

Damian Vella

“Dear All, these are my general comments about the short course in Alicante Spain.
The teaching was interesting and well prepared. I learned more about groundwater and Its pollutants which are common all around the world. Writing a research proposal in a group was great as sharing ideas contributed to a strong proposal. Regarding the field trip I thing that It was expected something better and more interesting as for most of uses knew how an RO plant works. I would have preferred for example a trip to a place where groundwater mines are found or in water testing labs.
I would rate this course as an 8.5/10.”