Naturally occurring chemical contaminants affect the health of millions of people worldwide. The two most important contaminants, in terms of health impact, are arsenic and fluoride.
In order to reduce the consumption of geogenically contaminated water, economic, institutional, and psychological factors are at least as important as technical ones. The Water Resource Quality (WRQ) project brings together researchers from different fields to develop a holistic framework for mitigation of arsenic and fluoride contamination of drinking water.
In many areas worldwide the central water infrastructure is not available at all, or not reliable, leading to microbially contaminated water at the tap.
In such cases, decentralized water treatment such as filtration, chlorination, boiling, or solar disinfection (SODIS) can be applied. Our current main research project centers on ultrafiltration with the Gravity-Driven Membrane (GDM) filter technology.
Monitoring and Surveillance
Sound management of chemical and microbial drinking water quality is frequently hampered by inadequate monitoring and surveillance. The WST group supports development of capacity for water quality monitoring and surveillance, by making use of new and emerging testing approaches which can be applied under challenging circumstances, by people with little technical background. As water quality data becomes increasingly available, monitoring and surveillance can better inform the design and redesign of projects, policies, and global programmes such as post-2015 development goals.
Multiple-use Water Services Impact Evaluation
This collaborative project with Winrock International will assess the impact of Multiple-use Water Services (MUS) projects in Burkina Faso and Tanzania.
Nepal Safe Water Quality
In many parts of the world, drinking water supplies regularly exceed the contamination limits set by WHO and are the cause of disease outbreaks and deaths, as well as stunted growth in children. The treatment and monitoring of water supplies is often not done because of social, economic and technological hindrances, particularly in remote areas. Sandec’s Water Supply and Treatment Group is developing monitoring and evaluation tools to facilitate water testing and health risk management in remote areas and is presently conducting pilot studies in the mountains of Nepal.
Water-Energy-Environment (3E) Programme
The Water-Energy-Environment (3E) programme was launched in 2012 with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) to support scientific partnerships between the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Swiss universities and institutes (EPFL, HEIG VD and EAWAG). The focus is the fate and transport of arsenic on the environment, and the first phase (2012-2016) analysed the development of risk maps and mitigation technologies for the removal of arsenic from drinking water. The project received a one-year extension (2017) to assess the uptake of arsenic in food products (i.e. the impact of irrigating and cooking with arsenic contaminated water), as well as current practices in term of drinking water quality monitoring (chemical and microbial water quality).