Project for BIO27 is focused on water treatment in places where there isn’t an adequate or available public water supply. The location chosen as a pilot area for the project lies in the Triglav National Park, where, contrary to public belief, spring waters are quite contaminated.

Most problems lead to groundwater, which represents more than 90 % of drinkable water in Slovenia. Big cities have outdated water systems, which are still regulated and regularly monitored.

But it’s estimated that 20 % of people aren’t connected to the public water supply and live around areas where agriculture is practiced intensively and is not regulated quite often.

Farming is a major contributor to water contamination. Fertilizers used in crop production seep into the soil and from there into the water where E. coli bacteria grows and contaminates.
As such their drinking water is not monitored and often contains bacteria E. coli. That problem can be seen even in rural parts of Slovenia such as Triglav National Park. In spring and summer time people have to boil their water, so that they do not get infected with the E. coli when they drink tap water.

E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria, found in soil, plants and water. If E. coli is transmitted to humans it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, nausea, fatigue and sometimes even death.

The project is focused around natural and vernacular water cleaning systems. Slovenia belongs to the most forested countries in Europe. Researchers found that xylem tissue from a white pine tree, when used to filter contaminated water, removed 99,9 % of E. coli bacteria.

Ceramic and wood structure, visible under a microscope.

Ceramic water filters are an inexpensive and effective type of water filter that rely on the small pore size of ceramic material to filter dirt, debris, and bacteria out of water. This makes them ideal for use in developing countries, and portable ceramic filters are commonly used in backpacking.