Proposed WQRF-Funded Research Projects

A long list of potential research projects was compiled over the last two years through discussions with hundreds of industry leaders and WQA members. The WQRF Research Advisory Committee was then formed and charged with prioritizing all the projects on that list. After much consideration, the following projects were identified as the top two projects on the list. The committee members invite your input on these projects.

Proposed Project Concept A: Survey of­ Water Quality Needs and/or Preferences

For this proposed research project, WQRF would commission a comprehensive, nation­wide study/survey to understand and quantify customer knowledge, perceptions, needs, preferences of water treatment devices as they relate to drinking, washing or general use. The scope of the study would include residential and commercial applications (e.g., household, business and restaurant), and cover a wide variety of technologies (e.g., softening, filtration, anti-scale). The end result should be a comprehensive report available to industry members that will enable them to better educate potential customers and connect customers with the right products for the right purpose. 

This project is designed to address the following key categories in our research agenda:

  • Final Barrier: Investigate point of use and whole house devices as a means for sustainable treatment to create more opportunities for industry professionals to provide better quality water to more people.
  • Public Awareness: Increase consumer awareness of water treatment through educational and extension work, demonstrations, shows, symposia, expositions, publications and surveys.
    Example focus questions are provided below for consumers, and similar focus questions would need to be developed for commercial market segments.
  • Water and Device: Is the customer on city water or well water? Does the customer feel his/her water tastes good? Is safe to drink? Is the customer aware of the various types of devices (filter, carbon, UF, RO, UV, etc) and what each type is used for? Does the customer understand product claims including aesthetic & health claims?
  • Softeners: Does the customer understand what a softener does? Does the customer understand the benefits and results of softened water (hand washing, showering, wearing clothing, less detergent use, eliminates scaling on heating elements/faucets/fixtures, smoother feel on skin and hair, softer clothing)?
  • Filters: Does the customer understand the benefits of filtration (improved taste, removal of odors, final barrier against contaminants, etc.)?
  • Anti­-scale Devices: Does the customer know the difference between softening and anti­-scaling? Has the customer heard of anti-­scale technologies or devices?
  • Customer Satisfaction: Does the customer own any water treatment device(s), and if so which ones? If yes, does the customer feel he or she has the correct device, and that it makes a difference in the quality of the water? Would he or she consider buying another or different device in the future? If so, how soon? If different device, what type of device?

The estimated cost of this project is between $50,000 and $­100,000.

Proposed Project Concept B: Assessment ­ of Emerging Technologies

For this proposed research project, WQRF would assess the capabilities of emerging technologies by conducting benchmarking programs. Potential outcomes of research surrounding this topic could include the validation, creation or amendment of industry standards as well as corresponding professional and consumer education. This study could benchmark emerging technology such as physical anti-scaling treatment devices against the IAPMO Z601 standard and measure the scale reduction effects inside residential water heaters (tank and tank­less). It could also measure the scale build-up and ease of removal from glass shower doors and coffee makers. IAPMO is currently considering a new standard for scale reduction devices that proposes a very low threshold for efficacy (60% scale reduction). This type of research could address the consumer impacts of poor performance and help prevent the adoption of this low efficacy threshold in plumbing codes. 

In summary, this project is designed to address the following categories from our research agenda:

  • Final Barrier: Investigate point of use and whole house devices as a means for sustainable treatment to create more opportunities for industry professionals to provide better quality water to more people.
  • Regulatory Affairs: Conduct research to support efforts to defeat ill-conceived codes and rules or promote technologies in highly regulated areas 
  • Public Awareness: Increase consumer awareness of water treatment through educational and extension work, demonstrations, shows, symposia, expositions, publications and surveys. 

The estimated cost of this project is over $500,000 due to the need to perform product testing.