Stacked Rapid Sand Filtration - A Robust Filtration Process for Sustainable Drinking Water Infrastructure

EPA Grant Number: SU835544
Title: Stacked Rapid Sand Filtration - A Robust Filtration Process for Sustainable Drinking Water Infrastructure
Investigators: Weber-Shirk, Monroe , Lion, Leonard William
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: II
Project Period: November 15, 2013 through November 14, 2015
Project Amount: $90,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The objectives are to continue to improve the design and fabrication of the AguaClara stacked rapid sand filters (SRSF) and to deploy and test SRSF at a variety of flow rates on at least two continents. Our initial experience is with a 12 L/s SRSF. As part of this proposal we will develop design algorithms, hydraulic control systems, and fabrication methodologies for filters in the range of 0.8 L/s to 3 L/s. We will also design and test larger units. Our partner in Honduras will be building a 32 L/s AguaClara facility that will have 2 SRSF with expected completion early in 2014. This will give us additional experience and the ability to further refine the design and operation.


Our approach is to develop new technologies, test them at laboratory and full scale, and then use feedback from the construction and operation phases to guide further research and design improvements. We have developed an innovation system with a rapidly expanding network of partners and large research team with 3 faculty members and over 50 students. Our research agenda is driven by our goal of solving specific challenges related to deploying global solutions for community based drinking water treatment. To accomplish our goals we also conduct research designed to reveal the fundamental basis for the performance of the various processes in water treatment facilities. We will draw upon our expertise in flocculation and enhanced filtration to guide our deployment of filters in contexts where direct filtration may be appropriate. We will continue our work to develop appropriate combinations of treatment processes for a wide variety of raw water qualities.

Expected Results:

AguaClara will collaborate with Agua Para el Pueblo in Honduras and PRADAN in India, to test, evaluate, and deploy SRSF at a variety of scales. Real-time field-monitoring data will be posted online as is currently practiced with the SRSF operating in Támara, Honduras. Thousands of people will obtain access to safe drinking water for the first time. The technologies will be published and designs will be available online to facilitate global dissemination.

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainable infrastructure, municipal drinking water, resilient infrastructure, open source

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2014
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    AguaClara Stacked Rapid Sand Filtration – A Robust Filtration Process For Sustainable Drinking Water Infrastructure  | Final Report