No haste for wastewater

For water's welfare, it's good that My Lo Thao is literally down in the dumps.

After it's filtered and chlorinated on top of several other treatments, wastewater might as well take on a new name: drinking water. So it's wise to study the organisms in the sewage water that makes its way to our rivers and streams. Enter CSU Stanislaus Biological Sciences Associate Professor Dr. My Lo Thao and her students.

Thao and students are conducting research in conjunction with Salida Wastewater in the hopes of analyzing bacteria in the sewage water. That's pretty important when you consider that most wastewater is returned back to rivers and other natural bodies of water after it's treated at a plant.

Using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) methods to determine microorganism levels in water, Thao and her students hope to be able to find processes and formulas that will help determine when wastewater will go bad.

Another one of Thao's scientific ventures: experimenting with lactic acid bacteria in the hopes of making biodegradable plastics a more viable option -- where materials used in plastic products might be able to degrade in a month rather than months or years.