Sowmithra M -

Hey everyone! My name is Sowmithra Muthulakshmi Prakash. Welcome to my first senior project blog post. I am interested in going into environmental engineering and public policy with a focus on urban and rural water systems. This interest was sparked by personal and educational experiences. I have spent hours on my grandparent’s rural farms and firsthand witnessed how industrial waste impaired water quality, sanitation, and agriculture in my dad’s hometown. I have also had the privilege to interact with these concepts globally in China and India. I have been inspired by the positive social change focus in Dr. Thomas Wanger’s work in environmental and agriculture systems and Dr. Kathiravan Velusamy’s work in shrimp aquaculture and green salt. This positive social change focus is partially why I am doing a senior project. I will also use this as an opportunity to understand that an engineer’s job goes far beyond simply problem solving. It includes social change and collaboration with regards to applied work. I look forward to gaining experience in this particular field of study and solidifying my interest in this area of research while working with Dr. Margaret Garcia from ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment. I am also receiving support from BASIS Phoenix’s Ms. Wendy Sandor. 

As for my project itself, it focuses on sustainable transitions across urban water systems. Climate change has a profound effect on our infrastructure. Limited resources and environmental stressors, such as droughts and rising sea levels place unprecedented risks on these institutions and the development of water infrastructure. There exists a disproportionate relationship between the amount of space humans occupy and the resources they use. Presently, the federal government is setting aside more money than it ever has before for water infrastructure. It is citizens’, engineers’, and practitioners’ job to effectively utilize this money. My part in this is to conduct cross-case and within-case syntheses of Miami, Phoenix, and Detroit to draw generalizable trends with regards to transitions to sustainable water management. These comparisons will be drawn from data provided by Dr. Margaret Garcia’s previous work in this area. I plan on analyzing each individual city’s water management structures, financial conditions, and public media’s attention on conservation. Additionally, I will be identifying barriers, benefits, and markers of transition in order to understand how to improve the implementation process. For this part, I will look into regional management structures and how their water conservation and management policies have evolved over the years. With this work, I hope to strengthen knowledge-to-action networks and encourage cities to prioritize sustainable water management.

Here is the link to my on site advisor’s profile: 

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    Hi Sowmithra! I think it is very interesting that you are looking at research from 3 cities with very different climates. I wonder how that contributes to how each city manages their water. I can't wait to hear more about your project!
    Hey Sowmithra! I love how your project targets a very relevant issue in today's world. What prompted you to choose these specific cities to view the trends in sustainable water management?
    Hi Ayushi! I chose these cities because they have varying climates and water management conditions. Phoenix is known for its desert weather, Miami for its humidity, and Detroit for its moderate weather. Additionally, I'm hoping to see if the cities can learn valuable lessons from each other.
    Thanks Nithya!
    Sinchana Keshav
    Hey Sowmithra! This project is very necessary given today's climate and resources. I see that you are analyzing the water management structures and actions among these three cities. Do you plan on also synthesizing a water conservation plan that you think is the most effective from the research you will be conducting, or will you be solely analyzing the differences between the cities' plans?
    Hey Sinchana! That's a good question. While I will not be synthesizing an entire water conservation plan, I will work towards drawing generalizable trends of sustainable transitions and identifying 2-3 operationalized measures/processes for more sustainable water management.

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