Water Treatment and Education in Villahermosa, Mexico

EPA Grant Number: SU833547
Title: Water Treatment and Education in Villahermosa, Mexico
Investigators: Houchens, Brent C. , Boyle, Paul M.
Current Investigators: McStravick, David M. , Beach, Kelsey E. , Boyle, Paul M. , Campo, Laura M. , Campos, Felix I. , Corcoran, Clint C. , Felix, Tiye T. , Hamshari, Ali N. , Houchens, Brent C. , Kelm, Walter A. , Langsfeld, Joshua D. , Stamatakis, Christina C. , Steger, Scott T. , Tuttle, James J.
Institution: Rice University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The 2700 students attending Centro Educativo Integral No 1 middle school in Villahermosa, Mexico are currently without a safe supply of drinking water. Their stored water is contaminated by waste runoff, resulting in illness and disease.


We propose to design and implement a sustainable point-of-use water treatment facility consisting of biosand filtration and UV sterilization systems. The biosand filter will be constructed in Mexico using locally available materials. The UV sterilization will be powered by a solar array. Therefore, no additional infrastructure is required. This water treatment facility will provide safe drinking water to the middle school students. In addition, the mold for the biosand filter will be donated for construction of additional biosand processing units for other schools and households. As a second task, we will design and build a novel educational laboratory to teach the children about the importance of clean water. This laboratory will cover six water filtration and purification techniques including: sediment and carbon filtration, reverse and forward osmosis, and chemical and ultraviolet treatment. It is unique in that it can be rearranged in many configurations, allowing the students to optimize the order of water treatment. We will measure the outcome of the biosand / UV system by testing the water before and after treatment to ensure efficient removal of pathogens. Student understanding will be assessed through laboratory experiments and exercises. The execution of this project will be greatly aided by an existing collaboration with Schlumberger’s Excellence in Education and Development (SEED) nonprofit foundation. SEED intends to manufacture our laboratory and donate it to schools in developing nations throughout the world. The proposed project currently involves five undergraduate students at Rice University, who will design both the treatment facility and the educational laboratory. They will then travel to Mexico to implement both facets of the project. During the course of this project they will learn about sustainable design for water treatment, and about challenges facing developing nations.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 4 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, human health, chemicals, toxics, metals, heavy metals, pathogens, viruses, bacteria, sustainable development, community based,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report