News Release – Citizen Science Water Fair: An Opportunity to Learn

Citizen Science Water Fair: An Opportunity to Learn


March 16, 2022

Tuba City, Ariz. — After more than 2 years of the COVID-19 Pandemic the Citizen Science Water fair event hosts have decided to reschedule this wonderful and exciting event for our communities, “A pure learning and outreach activity”. Dine’ College, Tuba City Center will be hosting a Citizen Science Water Fair, on March 25, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The fair targets the communities of Tuba City, Tonalea, Cameron, Coalmine, Shonto, and Bodaway Gap, however, other communities of the Navajo reservation including Tsaile, Chinle and Kayenta are also welcome to join the event.

The fair is a collaborative effort between Diné College, University of Utah, and the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency. The first 90 participants that complete the testing themselves and answer a short questionnaire about their experiences will receive a $50.00 gift certificate at the event.

NOTE: Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) water samples will not be accepted

Dr. Shazia Tabassum Hakim, Ph.D., a Diné College Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences Professor and co-investigator of the event said “the main objective is to educate and create awareness among our communities. We know water is the major ingredients of life for every one of us and by using clean, contaminant free water we can improve the health quality of life in our communities”. Dr. Jennifer Lee Weidhaas, Ph.D., Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah is the principal investigator and Yolanda Barney of the Navajo Nation Environment Protection Agency is another co-investigator of this NSF sponsored event..

Dr. Hakim said that the participants will learn and perform simple water testing procedures to understand the difference between treated and untreated water. She explains that untreated water can contain chemicals and germs that can lead to health issues. Even if the water source is good, our storage system that we have at our home could be contaminated and this results in health problems. Dr. Weidhaas, and a team from Diné College which consist of Dr. Hakim, Microbiology & Biomedical Sciences Professor; Barbara Klein, Chemistry Professor; Dr. Babatunde Ojo, Chemistry Professor; Ms. Benita Litson, Director of Land Grant and Student volunteers will serve as water testers and assist the community with their water samples.

“Navajos all understand the importance of clean water for themselves and their livestock. This will be a good opportunity to determine the quality of their water and consider options for a clean water source”, said Barbara Klein, Chemistry Professor at Diné College.

“The Water Fair is the first public awareness associated science fair at DinéCollege, Tuba City site. Our team will schedule more of such events later at other Diné College sites and campuses”, added Benita Litson, Land Grant Office Director.

Dr. Hakim said, “we have sterile water collection bottles available (sets of two bottles per household) along with instruction at Diné College Land Grant office (Tsaile campus) and Tuba City Learning Center. Community members who wants to test their untreated water are asked to collect empty and sterile water bottles from either Tsaile or Tuba City location. On the morning of March 25th, 2022, fill the bottles as per enclosed instructions and bring the water bottles to the Water Fair and do the testing, with the help from organizers. The event organizers have set Safety Guideline Protocols to follow when you come on-site.

Phyllis T. Begay, Director of Tuba City Center said, “we are looking forward to the event and excited. We welcome all participants because together, we will all learn something about water. Remember, water is life.”

Diné College is a four-year tribal college located on the Navajo reservation with six campuses and two microsites across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and primarily serves Navajo students. The school offers 20 bachelor degrees, 16 associate degrees, and 6 certificate programs. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The College, established in 1968, is the first tribal college and was formerly named Navajo Community College.


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