2018 Progress Report: Right Sizing Tomorrow's Water Systems for Efficiency, Sustainability, and Public Health

EPA Grant Number: R836890
Title: Right Sizing Tomorrow's Water Systems for Efficiency, Sustainability, and Public Health
Investigators: Whelton, Andrew J , Beecher, Janice , Lee, Juneseok , Mitchell, Jade , Nejadhashemi, Amirpouyan , Rose, Joan B.
Institution: Purdue University , Michigan State University , San Jose State University , Tulane University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2019 (Extended to March 31, 2021)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2017 through September 30,2018
Project Amount: $1,989,000
RFA: National Priorities: Impacts of Water Conservation on Water Quality in Premise Plumbing and Water Distribution Systems (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water


The project goal is to better understand and predict water quality (WQ) and health risks posed by declining water usage and low flows. Our hypotheses focus on (i) testing the predictability of integrated water distribution system-premise plumbing models the project team develops and calibrates for residential and commercial buildings; (ii) identifying the most significant determinant(s) of tap WQ in these systems; and (iii) identifying water system design and operational conditions that pose increased human health risks.

Project objectives are to:

(1) Improve the public's understanding of decreased flow and establish a range of theoretical premise plumbing flow demands from the scientific literature and expert elicitation with our strategic partners.

(2) Elucidate the factors and their interactions that affect WQ through fate and transport simulation models for residential and commercial buildings.

(3) Create a risk-based decision support tool to help guide decision makers through the identification of premise plumbing characteristics, operations and maintenance practices that minimize health risks to building inhabitants.

Progress Summary:

The project team helped developed a Building Plumbing focused poster session proposal for the 2019 American Water Works Association Conference in Denver, CO USA. The session will highlight the results of the present study and participants from industry and other academic institutions about their own discoveries. The session is scheduled for Monday, June 10. A variety of presentations to the public health, building technology, water utility, chemical and journalism sectors were posted at www.PlumbingSafety.org as PDF files so anyone can download them.

Intensive water quality and water use testing for a 1-year period at a residential building was completed in October 2018. Continuous monitoring of water flow, air and water temperature at the service line and all plumbing components was conducted. Service line continuous pressure monitoring was conducted that corresponded to water sampling activities inside the building. A variety of pressure, physical, chemical and microbiological analysis were conducted on water samples. Due to the scale of the results, time is needed to process and interpret this information. Field-scale work is well underway. In Summer 2018, water sampling began at a LEED certified school and continued into October 2018. The purpose of this study was to determine if drinking water quality changed during the transition from summer to fall, when school returned to session. There is a large amount of water testing information generated from this study and this requires time to be interpreted and reported. Another drinking water study is being conducted on a university campus. What is unique about this study is the sampling strategy using composite collection of water samples from taps.The goal is to evaluate the water quality of academic buildings which have varying water residence times, use and chlorine residual. Finally, t he pilot facility is ready for use. Conduct of pilot-scale experiments is not expected to begin until questions arise from the field sampling activities. Bench-scale testing has been conducted to examine chemical release and fate in drinking water plumbing. Additional experiments are underway to characterize chemical fate in full-scale residential plumbing. Results of these investigations are undergoing interpretation.

Future Activities:

In the coming year, our team plans to:

  1. Continue water sampling of the School, Academic Buildings, and begin sampling of the office buildings.
  2. Begin bench- and pilot-scale experiments.
  3. Submit workshop report for publication.
  4. Submit other manuscripts for review and publication.
  5. Analyze the hundreds of millions of pieces of data from the 1 year monitoring study of the single family home.
  6. Begin to develop the integrative water quality-hydraulic model to be used for predicting water quality at the single-family home.
  7. Present results at trade industry and scientific meetings and post those presentations online.


Salehi, M., Abouali, M., Wang, M., Zhou, Z., Nejadhashemi, A.P., Mitchell, J., Caskey, S. and Whelton, A.J., 2018. Case study: Fixture water use and drinking water quality in a new residential green building. Chemosphere195, pp.80-89.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 11 publications 1 publications in selected types All 1 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Salehi M, Abouali M, Wang M, Zhou Z, Negadhashemi AP, Mitchell J, Caskey S, Whelton AJ. Case study: fixture water use and drinking water quality in a new residential green building. Chemosphere 2018;195:80-89. R836890 (2017)
R836890 (2018)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: ScienceDirect-Full Text-HTML
  • Abstract: ScienceDirect-Abstract
  • Other: ScienceDirect-Full Text-PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Water quality, conservation, water systems

    Relevant Websites:

    Purdue University Center for Plumbing Safety Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2017 Progress Report