BELLINGHAM, Wash., March 1 (UPI) -- Scientists say a pioneering system providing safe drinking water for millions of people in Asia is now being tested in the United States.
Developed by researchers at Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, the system can remove arsenic from groundwater without using chemicals, instead relying on oxidation and filtration, a university release said Tuesday.
The technology, dubbed Subterranean Arsenic Removal and already in use in six water plants in West Bengal, has had a successful trial in a rural Northwest community outside Bellingham in Washington, where high levels of arsenic in the water had previously caused challenges for local residents.
"We first read about the SAR technology on Wikipedia," Jeremy Robinson, a member of the Washington state installation team, said. "Initially, it seemed too good to be true. Arsenic is a significant problem for many of the wells in our area. None of the conventional approaches for arsenic treatment have worked well for us.
"But once we recognized the advantages and elegance of the SAR approach, we started preparing to test it here.
"We started the trial in January, on an abandoned well with alarmingly high arsenic levels. And now, after seven weeks, we are seeing arsenic levels at or below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limit."
The university's Bhaskar Sen Gupta, leader of the team that developed the system, visited Washington to oversee the installation.
"The key aspects of this life-changing technology are its affordability and simplicity of installation and operation," he said.
"The cost of setting up a plant to produce up to 6,000 liters (1,500 gallons) of water a day averages under $4,000 -- less in the developing world -- and the operational cost is $20 a month."