College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Civil Engineering

College - Author 2

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Department - Author 2

BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department

Degree - Author 2

BS in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering

College - Author 3

College of Engineering

Department - Author 3

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Degree - Author 3

BS in Civil Engineering

College - Author 4

College of Engineering

Department - Author 4

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree - Author 4

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Peter Livingston, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences, BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department


Water quality remains a major issue throughout rural Fiji, as current solutions rely on outside organizations providing money or technology. The goal of Filters for Fiji’s research was to develop a sustainable water filtration method for the people of rural Fiji, through ethnographic and biological research. In order to be sustainable, the filter had to be inexpensive (less than USD$15), simply built and maintained, and suitable for the end-user. The driving question of the research was: can a plastic, modified biosand filter be constructed from materials that could be sourced locally in rural Fijian communities? To answer this question, feedback from focus groups conducted with rural Fijians, the potential end-users, was used to re-design an existing biosand filter prototype. The previous prototype was in development by an Engineers without Borders (EWB) project focused on water quality and quantity in rural Fiji. Mechanical testing was conducted to allow for iteration that reduced leakage and improved flow rate of the new design. Then, two filter prototypes were tested over 59 days for biological removal efficiency. Drumm Reservoir water, inoculated with K-12 E. coli, was filtered by the prototypes, while the turbidity, total coliform, and E. coli levels were recorded for the filters’ influent and effluent. Analysis of the testing results found the design to remove approximately 60% of E. coli and turbidity on average, which yields significant benefits to the thousands of Fijians who currently lack access to potable water but does not meet CAWST (Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation) biosand filter expectations. Since the prototypes do not meet CAWST expectations the design cannot be recommended for implementation currently. Although the biological testing did not yield perfect results, the ethnographic and lab research completed for this project led to the finding that: “Community centered design is essential for engineering sustainable water filtration solutions in majority world countries”. With the data collected, Filters for Fiji intends to publish this research as a free technology to allow for continued iteration to produce an even more effective human-centered water filtration system for the people of rural Fiji and encourage community centered design in engineered filtration systems.