MUNCIE -- A Ball State University professor is spending his day at the White House Tuesday after being invited to talk about the nation’s water quality.
While the country has rallied around ugly brown lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan, Lee Florea has led Hoosier students along Indiana river and creek-banks to show them that water quality issues aren’t always that easy to see. Like issues in the Midwest with agricultural runoff, increasing water’s nitrogen and phosphorous levels.
“When you have highly polluted waterways with municipal waste, for example, you can smell or see that," Florea said. "Whereas something like, you know, nitrogen, may be sort of insidious and it may be there, but you may not notice it until later, when you have things like algae blooms in reservoirs or in stagnant waters.”
Florea is representing Water Quality Indiana at a White House summit discussing the state of the nation’s water.
Florea teaches geological sciences at Ball State. And for the last few summers, he’s combined his science-minded students with journalism students, led by fellow professor Adam Kuban, to both test and mitigate water issues in east-central Indiana, and explain their findings in a way people can understand.
“Part of, I think, the ‘making people care’ is exactly what we’re doing here right now,"Florea said. Then teaching these students how to promote, how to do, how to go out and P.R. your work and make it available and digestable to a broader audience.”
Florea says this summer’s students will focus their research on the Mississinewa River Watershed.
As for his moment with the executive branch, White House officials describe Tuesday’s meeting as discussing ways to make sure the nation “has access to sufficient water when and where they need it.”