Project title: Spatiotemporal multiscale Modelling of Antimicrobial Resistance in The Irish subsurface Environment (SMARTIE)
Research: Luisa Andrade
The SMARTIE project strongly aligns with both the Geoscience & Health and Water iCRAG-GSI Environmental Geosciences research themes. Contaminated groundwater continues to be a public health concern for 16% of the Irish population who are reliant on this natural resource as their primary drinking water supply. While much work has been undertaken assessing contamination of groundwater with microbiological contamination, only one spatially and temporally limited study currently exists which has assessed the incidence of antibiotic resistance within the Irish groundwater environment. SMARTIE is an interdisciplinary project, which blends traditional hydrogeological fieldwork, geo-referencing, microbiology, analytical chemistry and hydrological catchment simulation.
The aim of SMARTIE is to elucidate the complex relationship between the natural environment and human health, focussing on characterising the properties of (hydro)geological and anthropogenic processes, which facilitate in the fate and transport of antimicrobial resistance into groundwater resources. In practice, this is translated into the sampling and analysis of over 100 private groundwater wells across the Republic of Ireland following periods of low versus high antimicrobial human consumption (i.e. autumn and spring, respectively), to identify the impacts of weather and antimicrobial consumption, as well as other source-related characteristics in the levels of antimicrobial resistance found. This frontier research will facilitate the identification of the challenges facing our water resources, as well as the identification of solutions to promote the sustainable management of groundwater resources; building capacity and expertise in Environmental Geosciences.