Tommy Ngai. Photo:

The Calgary-based Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) has won the $50,000 first prize in the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge.

Awarded earlier this week in Stockholm at World Water Week, the prize highlights innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation.

Developed by Tommy Ngai, CAWST’s director of research learning, the winning project modifies conventional biosand filters with iron particles to remove all three classes of water contaminants, including viruses, and bring safe drinking water to two impoverished rural villages in Nepal. Over a period of two years 150 filters will be installed, and CAWST will update its educational material and hold workshops to promote the technology. The project will target over 1,000 people in the two villages and has the potential to be scaled to help millions over the next 10 years.

“CAWST is very pleased that Reed Elsevier recognizes the treatment of water in the home as one of the proven options to provide safe drinking water for Nepal, especially in rural villages. The biosand filter has great potential to become widely and sustainably used for improving water quality to reduce waterborne disease and death,” said Ngai in a release.


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