He doesn't expect to see a pure Ganges in his lifetime, but the Supreme Court involvement is encouraging, Hamner said, adding that he didn't think the Supreme Court of India would have been as open if the report had come from MSU alone.
"This is the best of things. It's wonderful," Hamner said.
Ford said, "Getting regulators and legislators to understand the importance of not discharging untreated human waste into the Ganges River is critical to moving forward."
Ford, a long-time researcher of environmental health, is planning to return to India in 2009 as chair of an American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium on Water and Health.
Hamner's involvement with the Ganges began about five years ago when he decided he wanted to introduce himself to scientists at the Sankat Mochan Foundation. The foundation is directed by Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra, a retired engineering professor and head of a Hindu temple. Veer has been recognized by Time magazine as a hero of the planet. He's on the United Nations' honor roll for environmental activists.
In early 2003, Hamner traveled to the city of Varanasi in north central India to meet with members of the Sankat Mochan Foundation. Hamner returned to India in 2004 and conducted a health survey and sampled the Ganges in Varanasi. Hamner sent the river water samples to MSU where Susan Broadaway tested them in the microbiology lab and detected 0157:H7 almost immediately.
In 2006, Ford and Hamner presented their findings in Kolkata, India at a meeting organized by the CDC on water and sanitation issues.
|Contact: Evelyn Boswell|
Montana State University