In honor of Social Justice Month, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) hosted an informative workshop sponsored by the IIT Armour College of Engineering and the Water Theme on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 on the Main Campus. This workshop covered several properties of water that must be considered when testing the water quality.
EWB representative Rod Beadle presented Water Testing in the Developing World to more than 80 attending students. Students learned more about the details and challenges of water testing and how those skills can be used to bring clean water the developing world. Beadle based this lecture on his own experiences testing water quality all over the world. In addition, he presented different testing methods employed in the field for many different scenarios.
Elements to take into consideration when testing water range from 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 including pH, temperature, and turbidity. One of the most important relationships covered in the workshop is 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 indicating that it is important to check pH levels of water when treating with chlorine.