Chapel Hill, NC – Engineers Without Borders Boston Professional Chapter (EWB Boston) implements sustainable projects in partnership with developing communities to meet their basic human needs and supports water supply projects in the villages of Mapinduzi and Mkutani in Tanzania. Testing the villages’ water supplies for E. coli bacteria is a critical parameter needed to assess the safety and health risk of the source water in each community.

The problem was, how could EWB Boston conduct water quality testing in rural areas where labs are inaccessible, unavailable and too expensive?

^EWB BostonEWB Boston adopted the Aquagenx Compartment Bag Test (CBT), an affordable, portable water quality test kit for E. coli. Bill Clunie, Water Supply Engineer and Barbara Piper, Tanzania Team Leader chose the CBT Kit because it is optimized for on-site testing and lets them run samples themselves, without the high costs and complicated logistics involved with third-party labs.

Clunie and Piper worked with Tanzanian community members who staff the village health dispensary and operate the borehole pumping system. Together they collected field grab samples of untreated source water (river and borehole water) with the CBT Kit, as well as water from the rain water catchment system.

The river source water was found to be unsafe, as they expected. However, EWB Boston and community members were very pleased to find the rainwater catchment system water was safe. The CBT’s quantitative, color-change test results for E. coli easily enabled everyone to analyze samples from a diagnostic point of view to accurately assess the extent of the health risk of water supplies.

“The CBT Kit provides quick turnaround time on results, is easily transported and is easy to use in sample preparation,” says Clunie. “In addition to its low cost and rapid results, the portability of the CBT is a benefit, along with its simplicity of use.”

Clunie and Piper left remaining CBTs with the villagers to monitor water quality themselves on an ongoing basis. Since their initial testing with the CBT Kit in 2015, EWB Boston used the CBT in Tanzania during a subsequent trip and plan on using it again in future trips to Tanzanian communities.

About the CBT Kit:
The Aquagenx Compartment Bag Test (CBT), is a simple, portable water quality test for E. coli. The CBT Kit generates easy-to-score, quantified, color-change test results. It is ideal for on-site testing in low resource and disaster/emergency areas. No electricity, laboratories, cold chain, expensive equipment or skilled technicians are required to use the CBT.