Be Boundless

Water Treatment Team wins regional competition


April 23, 2019

UW Water Treatment Team

UW Water Treatment Team members Emma Van Orden, Sara Lucero and Katrina Olson, from left.

The UW Water Treatment Team made a big splash at a regional environmental competition on April 12, taking first place for designing a water treatment system that can be used in emergency situations.

As part of the 2019 Pacific Northwest ASCE and AISC Student Conference hosted by St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., the UW Water Treatment Team participated in the environmental competition, which was based on an emergency scenario in which an earthquake triggered the eruption of Mount St. Helens and damaged nearby wastewater treatment plants.

Under this scenario, teams from 12 universities around the region competed to develop a filter that was capable of treating water from a stormwater retention pond. The water was to be used for washing clothes and bathing, but not for drinking as chemical treatment was not allowed. Given the emergency scenario, all materials had to be from local stores that could be easily accessed during an emergency and points were awarded for the least expensive filters. The competition also encouraged themes and creativity.

“Our team this year themed our filter after coffee, inspired by the fact that Seattleites would need clean water to get their caffeine fix. That's also how we came to the name for our filter: Clean And Frugal Effluent, or C.A.F.E. for short,” said team member Katrina Olson.

The UW team’s filter consisted of three five-gallon buckets. One contained clay, sand and a cheesecloth, a second contained activated carbon and a linen membrane and a third bucket collected the treated effluent. The competition was scored on four categories: technical paper, poster, presentation and filter performance, which was tested at the competition. 

Comprised of six undergraduates, this is the team’s second year participating in the competition. Team members include Veronique Bourgault, Sara Lucero, Mason Ohh, Katrina Olson, Emma Van Orden and Zach Skelton.