The Quest to Improve Water Quality

Samantha Zeitz

Municipal water supplies are kept in large water tanks and the quality within is not always as clean as it should be. Now, researchers from Michigan Tech are working on an affordable, simple, and eco-friendly solution to get rid of the micro-pollutants lurking in the waters.

As described in a recent Science Daily report, Municipal water tanks provide drinking water and water that’s used when a fire occurs. At the bottom of the tanks there are two lines: one line that feeds water in and one that pulls water out. The problem is that because the lines are at the bottom of the tank, the water at the top almost never gets used and becomes stagnant. The tanks of water are treated with chlorine; however, stagnant water can still carry bacteria, algae or waterborne illness like giardia and E. coli.

Sometimes the chlorine even runs out because it’s been treating the same water for too long. When large amounts of water are used like when putting out a fire, all of the contaminants get into our drinking water.

Mohammad Alizadeh Fard, a doctoral student in Michigan Tech’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Brian Barkdoll, professor of civil and environmental engineering have created a showerhead-like attachment to improve water quality. The attachment can be added to new or existing water tanks and are inexpensive. By adding a PVC-pipe sprinkler at the top of the tank and a reverse sprinkler at the bottom, it keeps the water constantly moving and prevents contaminants from forming.

Since we as people require 20 to 50 liters of water a day for drinking, cooking and cleaning, this inventive sprinkler could prevent sickness and ever death. Approximately 1.8 million people die annually from diarrheal diseases and tens of millions of people fall ill from water-related ailments.