Pathogen and NOM Removal in Riverbank Filtration for the Village of La Barranca Honduras

EPA Grant Number: SU834716
Title: Pathogen and NOM Removal in Riverbank Filtration for the Village of La Barranca Honduras
Investigators: Heydinger, Andrew , Boff, Emma , Seo, Youngwoo
Current Investigators: Heydinger, Andrew , Chua, Huan Han , Hessler, Christopher , Nichols, Erin , Orozco, Andrea , Rehman, Ghias , Sendamangalam, Varun , Seo, Youngwoo , Wang, Zhikang
Institution: University of Toledo
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The Village of La Barranca is located within the Municipality of Orocuina, in the Department of Choluteca, Honduras and is approximately 2 miles south of Orocuina Centro. Currently villagers obtain water from a local farmer who gives priority to cattle, as well as shallow wells so water comes indirectly from the nearby Rio Choluteca. The water obtained from the farmer has contained large maggots. Fecal coliforms were also found in initial water tests of Rio Choluteca, and this presence implies that this water could pose health hazards to villagers. Based on our pre-assessment trip to the village, we propose a riverbank filtration system coupled with chlorine disinfection as an inexpensive and sustainable water treatment solution for the village. In order to provide safe drinking water to the village with a riverbank filtration system, this project seeks to answer questions regarding the influence of biological activities (biofilm formation) in riverbank filtration on the removal of pathogenic microorganisms and natural organic matter (NOM), which creates harmful disinfection by products.


To evaluate the fate and transport of pathogenic microorganisms and NOM removal in the riverbank filtration, first, lab scale soil column reactors will be constructed and tested. Soil column reactors will simulate a riverbank filtration system with similar soil properties of the village and indigenous biofilm growth and the removal of NOM and pathogens will be monitored under different hydraulic conditions for an extended period of time. Along with laboratory tests, preliminary field pumping tests will be conducted and filtered water quality will be analyzed in a local laboratory. These aspects of our project will help ensure that the water brought to La Barranca is safe for consumption. Finally, the implementation of a riverbank filtration system will be conducted for the village. The development of a clean water treatment and distribution system to La Barranca with a riverbank filtration system will also include community health assessments and training to ensure maintenance of the system can be performed without external help.

Expected Results:

With the project, we hope to improve the villagers' water situation through providing them with sanitized water. This proposed project will provide crucial and fundamental information to understand the role of biological activities in the riverbank filtration systems for the full implementation of a riverbank filtration system for the Village of La Barranca. This project will also provide educational opportunities for participating students and local community. In addition to obtaining important design information and educating students involved, this project can positively impact not only the villages of La Barranca and Orocuina Centro, but the innumerable communities in the world facing similar circumstances.

Supplemental Keywords:

Riverbank Filtration, Pathogen, Disinfection, Human Health,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report