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Grantee Research Project Results

Sustainable Community Development – Water Slow-Sand Filtration

EPA Grant Number: SU833544
Title: Sustainable Community Development – Water Slow-Sand Filtration
Investigators: Bland, Larry , Kim, Young-Gurl
Current Investigators: Bland, Larry , Alvarez, Claudia , Kim, Young-Gurl , Mitchell, TJ , Ruiz, Javier , Soberanis, Luis , Young, Preston
Institution: John Brown University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 31, 2007 through July 31, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water



The proposed research project question is: “How can a Slow-Sand water purification system be improved to meet the needs of a small community?” A major issue that persists in underdeveloped areas is both water quality and quantity. There have been point-of-use water purification systems developed that can provide for particulate removal, bacteria destruction, or both. However, large-scale community systems have remained too expensive for underdeveloped communities. This project has three goals: 1) perform research and development tasks that would increase the throughput of the slow-sand technology; 2) design the research outcome into a total community system design that would be applicable to a wide variety of communities; 3) develop an educational strategy that would provide for indigenous community integration, maintenance, and sustainability.


While slow sand filters exist, the research will test a greenhouse test bed for process improvements that would yield a filtration process that will have a sustainable community level flow rate, create a preventative maintenance process that will create a micro-enterprise while sustaining water quality, and evaluate structural improvements for both improved flow rates and ease of maintenance. This task will be accomplished through a series of key tasks: 1) construction of a small scale test bed; 2) complete experimental characterization of the Schmutzdecke layer for water flow rates and filtration; 3) incorporate structural modifications for increased flow; 4) develop optimal maintenance procedures that are culturally appropriate; and 5) develop educational and micro-enterprise plans for sustainable integration into a host community. This project has the support and commitments from Students In Free Enterprise and The Institute for Biblical Community Development as partner NGO’s.

Expected Results:

The outcomes of this project will be integrated into multiple on-campus courses in engineering, business, and intercultural studies.

Supplemental Keywords:

water purification, filtration, pathogenic organisms, disinfection, appropriate technology,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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