On February 18, In honor of Social Justice month, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) hosted an informative workshop sponsored by Armour College of Engineering and the Water Theme. Rod Beadle from EWB presented Water Testing in the Developing World to over 80 attending students. Rod based this lecture on his own experiences testing water quality all over the world. This workshop covered several properties of water that must be considered when testing the water quality. Mr. Beadle also presented different testing methods employed in the field for many different scenarios.
Elements to take into consideration when testing water range from obvious health issues such as harmful chemicals or micro-organisms, to taste and color – which are less essential to health, but still an important factor in water quality. For example, an excess of chlorine in water will be distasteful before it is unsafe to drink. Iron and manganese cause water to turn brown when oxidized and can deter many from drinking it, although it is not a high health risk.
The chlorine or iron consistency in the water represents its chemical properties. Its physical properties consist of things such as pH, temperature, turbidity, etc. Perhaps the most important relationship covered in the workshop lies between the water’s pH and chlorine levels. Chlorine is used to kill microorganisms in water, but its effectiveness decreases at pH levels higher than 8.5 showing us that it is important to check pH levels of water when treating with chlorine.
Rod’s talk on Tuesday brought students together from Engineers Without Borders as well as many other students from Armour College of Engineering to learn more about the details and challenges of water testing in the field and how we can use these skills so we can bring clean water the developing world.