Mobile water treatment lab could test water in western Mass. com - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mobile water treatment lab could test water in western Mass. communities

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In Westfield, water troubles continue to spiral and a meeting is underway to discuss a $13 million bond addressing water contamination.

A panel of experts are set to weigh in on the city’s course of action. The bond request has failed twice already, but the city council hopes to find some resolution.

Sourcing clean drinking water has been a problem for a number of communities in Massachusetts and beyond.

A team of professors and students at UMass Amherst are looking to find solutions out on the road.

"There are growing number of contaminants that are showing up in our water supply," said David Reckhow, a Professor at UMass Amherst.  
Those contaminants are continuing to evolve, and that means scientists need to get creative to combat the problem.
"I personally started to get a little frustrated because I saw all this great laboratory research getting done, publications coming out of it, but not a lot of it was getting to be used," Reckhow added. 
That's why experts from UMass built a mobile water treatment lab where they plan on bringing the science to those communities in need.
"We have the capability on wheels to take natural water that is not really suitable for drinking purposes and turn it into drinking water just like a full-scale water treatment plant can," Reckhow explained. 
But more importantly, the mobile lab can test out new water treatment technologies that would otherwise be impossible to test out on a larger scale.

The focus is to produce higher quality water at a lower cost while using less energy.
"I think if this is not the answer, it will be the first step in the right direction," said UMass Amherst graduate student, Griffin Moriarty. 
The crew is gearing up for a tentative trip to Plainville and Gloucester.

Their hope is that ferates, a disinfectant, could be the key to solving water woes out east.
"It does some of the things that chlorine does, but it’s much greener, safer, healthier," Reckhow continued. 
They would also be interested in helping out here in the Pioneer Valley.
The trailer is chock full of technology which was paid for by grant money, and in order to sustain these projects, they will need a lot more.
"We are looking for sources of funds to help support our graduate students when they are deployed out in the field," said 

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