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Grand Challenges: The Maryland Safe Drinking WATER (Water Analysis and Testing for Education and Research) Study

An Initiative to Protect Drinking Water in Underserved Communities

Grant Type: Team Project Grant
Topics: Water, Social Justice, Health, Climate Change
Colleges Represented: SPHL, ENGR

Grand Challenges Grants Program


The water accessed by most people across the U.S. is clean and safe. However, recent drinking water tragedies in Jackson MS, Flint MI, and in Baltimore, MD, have placed national attention on the dangers and health consequences of contaminated water. Approximately 5.1 million Maryland residents are served by public drinking water systems while over 1 million completely rely on private wells as their source of water. Recent studies detected microbiological contaminants such as total coliforms and E. coli in both private and public drinking water supplies in Maryland, as well as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), aka “forever chemicals,” in approximately 1.3% of Marylanders' public drinking water. Given these threats to our drinking water, the overarching goal of this project is to characterize the quality of both public drinking water systems and private wells in Maryland's underserved communities using a combination of citizen science, field-based research, and laboratory analyses. The results of field-based and laboratory studies will be used to conduct Safe Drinking Water Workshops with residents focused on outreach and education to understand and improve drinking water quality in Maryland.

Grand Challenges Safe Drinking Water Graphic

Team Members:

PI: Rianna Murray (SPHL), Assistant Research Professor and Graduate Director, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health

PI: Leena Malayil (SPHL), Assistant Research Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health

Amy Sapkota (SPHL), MPower Professor, Environmental Health; Interim Director, Maryland Institute for Applied Enviromental Health; Director, CONSERVE Center of Excellence; and Director of the UMD Global STEWARDS NSF NRT

Allen Davis (ENGR), Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Paul Turner (SPHL), Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
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