Environmental students will help build a “BAWL” to study water treatment systems

Three Cincinnati State Environmental Engineering Technology (EVT) students–Melissa Goetz, Erin Ford, and Nathan Malsbary–participated in the annual Symposium and Workshops of the Aquatic Animal Life Support Operations (AALSO) professional organization, held in late March 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dr. Ann Gunkel, Program Chair for Environmental Engineering Technology, attended the Symposium with the students. She serves on the AALSO Board and is a member of the organization’s Education & Training Committee. 

Cincinnati State is one of only 12 colleges in the U.S. that has incorporated AALSO certifications into the curriculum for EVT classes. Cincinnati State was the first college to offer students the opportunity to earn two different AALSO certifications.

Cincinnati State students can earn industry-recognized Level 1 certification for Water Quality in the course EVT 230, Treatment Technologies, and can earn Level 1 certification in Life Support Systems in the course EVT 246, Wastewater Operations.

To earn Level 2 or 3 certifications in these areas, attending the AALSO conference is necessary.

Next step: Building a Big Automated Water Loop at Cincinnati State

The AALSO Symposium is 6-day event that includes idea-sharing as well as hands-on training through activities such as rebuilding pumps, sizing chillers, calibrating sensors, fusing pipe, and operating ozone systems on an automated 5,000 gallon fully-functional aquatic system named The Big Automated Water Loop, or BAWL.

Dr. Gunkel said that as a result of participating in AALSO Symposiums, the EVT program is in process of building a Big Automated Water Loop on Cincinnati State’s Clifton Campus.

When complete, the Cincinnati State BAWL will be used in several EVT courses and hands-on laboratory exercises, and as part of recruiting events, to demonstrate water treatment methods, water quality monitoring, flows through water collection, and distribution systems.

Dr. Gunkel said this year’s AALSO Symposium provided opportunities to form partnerships with vendors that will help keep the Cincinnati State BAWL project up-to-date, and provide training in skills needed for the on-campus BAWL construction and maintenance.

Background: What is AALSO?

AALSO was formed in 1994 when approximately 30 zoo and aquarium Life Support System professionals met to discuss water filtration systems and to strengthen connections between vendors and the facilities that the vendors help to design and equip with pumps, valves, filters, heat exchangers, sensors, and other equipment used in the water treatment industry. Now the organization has over 1,200 members, 500 certified operators, and more than 300 vendor members.

AALSO encourages advancement of the science and technology of life support for care of aquatic systems and animals. The organization provides a forum for water quality and mechanical system professionals at zoos and aquariums, along with curators, researchers and vendors, to exchange information and ideas to enhance stewardship of the animals in their care.