Our Goals

  1. Determine if the water box is practical and desirable to customers.
  2. Obtain performance data on the removal efficiency of indicator organisms (E. coli) under home use conditions.
  3. Determine customer willingness to pay.
  4. Solicit feedback from actual users on favorable and unfavorable aspects of the current design.
  5. Evaluate design modifications that would contribute to lower costs, allow easier fabrication, improve product quality, and increase the desirability and usage by the end user.
  6. Provide a practical and engaging project for Ugandan university engineering students.

Our Plan

  1. Make 50 test units in United States. Completed.
  2. Conduct performance challenge tests using an independent commercial lab to confirm treatment effectiveness of current prototype model. 3 rounds of testing have been completed.
  3. Finalize the involvement of Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Engineering Ministries International’s (EMI’s) Ugandan R&D center for collaboration in the field testing. Completed.
  4. With the cooperation of UCU and EMI, develop a field deployment and evaluation plan. Select Ugandan families for participation. Develop a survey to obtain baseline information on their current knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) regarding drinking water. Started.
  5. Meet with test families, provide them prototypes, and instruct them in their use. Explain the goals of project and the evaluation process. Trial period postponed until Feb-Apr 2022.
  6. Visit families regularly during the trial period. The trial period is planned for 6-10 weeks. Samples of untreated and treated water will be collected and tested for bacteria by EMI and UCU, using portable microbiological test kits. Water production rates will be estimated. Trial period has been shortened to 4-6 weeks. Number of households has been reduced to about 20.
  7. Conduct end interviews with each participating family and record information, including their recommendations for modifications to the product. Make a focused effort to obtain feedback from women, as they typically have primary responsibility for collecting and treating drinking water in Uganda and other developing countries.
  8. Describe and document proposed changes to the product based on field trials.
  9. Assess the likely cost to manufacture the units in Uganda, availability of suitable fabrication services, and perform a marketing study to assess the economic sustainability of the system.
  10. Coauthor one or more technical papers based on the evaluation process for publication in technical journals. This not only provides value to the broader technical community but offers another advancement opportunity for participants from UCU and EMI.


Nov-Dec 2021 in Oregon – Complete measurements of UV dose delivered by our water box. Design and test circuit to increase duration of UV bulb illumination when using external power. Ship a UV light meter, various spare parts, and additional bacteria test kits to Uganda. Completed.


Nov-Dec 2021 in Uganda at Engineering Ministries International (EMI) – Unpack and inspect the 24 water boxes shipped by sea to Uganda. Build and install data logger boards in all 29 water boxes in Uganda. Diagnose the failure of box #210512-128. Modify the circuit in all 29 water boxes to increase the duration of UV bulb illumination. Completed.


Jan 2022 in Oregon – Re-evaluate objectives for current water box design in light of initial testing by EMI in Uganda. Completed.


Jan 2022 in Uganda – Troubleshoot ~6 water boxes which performed poorly in initial tests. Perform life tests on 3 units.


Feb 2022 in Oregon – Fourth round of lab testing by Umpqua Research.


Feb 2022 in Uganda – Paul Berg will visit EMI while in Uganda on another project. Begin distribution of water boxes to ~20 households.


Mar-Apr 2022 in Uganda – Distribute water boxes to participating households. Collect data from households during and at the end of the 4-6 week test period.


May-June 2022 in Oregon and Uganda – Analyze and report the field trial results.


July-Sep 2022 in Oregon and Uganda – Write a technical paper about the field test and submit to a professional journal.

What We Have Learned So Far

  1. For 1 minute illumination, hand-cranked operation delivers only about 70% of the UV dose delivered by operation using external power.
  2. UV intensity varies by about one-third from manufacturer to manufacturer. We have standardized on bulbs from the best manufacturer.
  3. The bulbs require more than one minute to reach full intensity. We have increased the illumination time using external power to 2 minutes.
  4. We have a >10% early failure rate on timer circuits.
  5. With the current design operated for 2 minutes using external power, we now expect the water box to perform well enough to qualify for the World Health Organization’s 2-star rating, but probably not well enough to qualify for the WHO’s 3-star rating.
  6. Most households in the Ugandan district selected for the field test have electrical service. Water boxes supplied to the test households have been modified to require external power.


Funds for collaborating institutions in Uganda Uganda Christian University$2,968
Purchased partsComponents sourced in US (for this field trial)$6,828
ShippingShipping of prototypes and parts from US to Uganda$1,203
Destination Charges in Uganda, including duties and taxes$2,844
E. coli test kitsBacteria field test kits
Lab Testing - 3 roundsMicrobiological Challenge Test$4,602
Ugandans administering the field testStipend, transportation, meals, etc$642
Total travel, incl. airlineRound trip from Oregon to Uganda for Paul Berg$1,475
October 10th fundraiser expensesprinting, refreshments, janitorial, etc$721
UV light meter for EMIfor use at EMI facility in Uganda$829
Misc expenses at EMIReimburse EMI in Uganda$132
Reports to donorsPrinting and postage$72
SUBTOTAL actual through December 2021$24,387

Estimated Additional Costs

ItemDescriptionUnitUnit CostQuantityTotal
Funds for collaborating institutions in UgandaUganda Christian UniversityLump sum$1,0001$1,000
Purchased partsComponents sourced in US (for this field trial)Sum in 2022$2711$271
E. coli test kitsBacteria field test kitsPer kit $950$466
Lab testing, 4th round4th round at Umpqua, UVT in PortlandLump sum$2,4401 $2,440
ShippingShipping to courier in US for transport to Uganda1 shipment$151$15
Ugandans administering the field testStipend, transportation, meals, etcSum$8501$850
Water box buybackSum$5001$500
Reports to donorspostage and printingper report$753$255
SAGE fiscal sponsor fee7% of 2021 donationsAnnual$2,7011$2,701
SUBTOTAL estimated additional costs in 2022$8,469

Total Project Cost

SUBTOTAL Actual through December 2021$24,387
SUBTOTAL Estimated Additional Costs in 2022$8,469
Estimated Project Total Cost$32,857
15% Contingency$4,928
Budgeted Project Total Cost$37,785
Donations in 2021$38,586