We have completed research projects in Ecuador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico that looked at the prevalence of contamination in common sources of commercially available drinking water, the bottling methods used in the distribution of water, and the community perception of the water they drink. We are currently in the process of analyzing and publishing our results, after which we will be better equipped to enter into conversations with private water companies, governments, community groups, NGO’s, and other non-profit organizations better suited to provide support and leverage local resources to affect change.

The preliminary findings of our research show that the vast majority of bottled water companies have difficulty sanitizing the reusable water jugs used for drinking water distribution throughout Latin America. We found bacterial contamination in the majority of these bottles, regardless of region or sanitation method, so additionally we have begun researching the efficacy and practicality of a wide range of sanitation methods to improve the quality of bottled water by reducing contamination introduced during the bottling process.

To further address this issue, we are using our extensive connections at research universities across the United States to organize an engineering grant competition to design a better bottling solution. We hope the competition will connect students with water companies and research, and generate ideas and conversation around clean water equality. Aquality is planning to release the guidelines and application details for the competition in early March 2017.