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Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Emily Ryan

Construction Phase of Biosand Filters Built with River Sand and Quarry Sand

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Kristen Jellison

In developing countries, where water treatment infrastructure is often not in place and access to safe drinking water is limited, the use of biosand filters (BSFs) as a point-of-use water treatment system is a potential solution (Sisson et al., 2013). This treatment technology has been implemented in over 55 countries worldwide, providing access to clean drinking water in rural communities. The Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies (CAWST) has recommended standards for the proper construction of BSFs. Crushed rock or quarry sand are recommended for use as a filtration medium in the construction of BSFs; however, BSFs are often made using river sand, which is readily accessible in rural communities. Currently, the use of on-site material for building BSFs is dissuaded because of potential risk of contamination from pathogens and organic matter. Nonetheless, many BSFs are still filled with river sand because it is what is most available. Our research aims to verify the effectiveness of river sand as a substitute to quarry sand for use in BSFs. The current phase of our project is focused on the construction of four full-scale concrete BSFs using two river sand filters and two quarry sand control filters. Results of these analyses will suggest whether it is safe to use BSFs constructed with river sand. If such BSFs are found to meet drinking water standards, it would lower the cost and simplify the implementation of biosand filters in emergent nations.

Sisson, J., Wampler, P., Rediske, R., Molla, A. (2013). “An assessment of long-term biosand filter use and sustainability in the Artibonite Valley near Deschapelles, Haiti.” Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development, 3(1), 51-60.

About Emily Ryan:
Emily Ryan is a senior studying Environmental Engineering. This is her third semester working on the biosand filter project. She was initially interested in this project because of its applications in providing safe drinking water to communities around the world. She hopes to continue her education as a graduate student with a focus on water treatment technologies, particularly emphasizing environmental biotechnology and trace organic contaminants. When not working in the lab, Emily is a Gryphon, a SPEAK facilitator, and a volunteer at the Center for Gender Equity.