A New Way

Mimansha Joshi '14 travled to Singapore to study NEWater, an innovative water treatment program.

Mimansha Joshi ’14 travled to Singapore to study NEWater, an innovative water treatment program.

Nepal’s Bagmati River has been thought sacred in Hindu for hundreds of years. But today it is also known for its heavily polluted water. That always seemed wrong to Mimansha Joshi ’14.

NEWater is one of several conservation and reclamation programs used in Singapore.

NEWater is one of several conservation and reclamation programs used in Singapore.

“That was considered one of the holiest rivers a decade ago, and now it’s a place where they dump sewage,” said Joshi, a native of Nepal. “I really want to go back to my country and work on that sector as an environmental scientist.”

The Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program recently gave Joshi a chance to learn more about an innovative waste water treatment program. She used a RISE grant to travel to Singapore and research NEWater, which is drinking water made by filtering and cleaning sewage water.

Singapore began experimenting with reclaiming sewage water in the 1970s. Due to technical limitations and psychological barriers, the project was put on hold until the late ’90s, when the country began looking for a way to become less dependent on neighboring Malaysia for drinking water.

To become NEWater, wastewater goes through four stages of filtering and disinfecting. In the end, it surpasses World Health Organization drinking water standards. Still, Singapore does not put the reclaimed sewage water directly into the drinking supply. It is added to other water sources and goes through the traditional water treatment. NEWater makes up about 30 percent of Singapore’s drinking water.

Joshi visited two water treatment plants in Singapore, including one NEWater plant, and interviewed engineers and public relations officials. She also reviewed data from their studies of NEWater.

Mimansha Joshi '14 visited two water treatment plants, where she interviewed engineers and public relations officials.

Mimansha Joshi ’14 visited two water treatment plants, where she interviewed engineers and public relations officials.

The experience gave Joshi more information to use in her senior paper about water reclamation. This made it a perfect capstone, said Karin Warren, the Herzog Family Chair of Environmental Studies.

The opportunity to visit the NEWater treatment plant in Singapore was an ideal culminating experience for her academic program,” Warren said. “This opportunity has greatly enhanced the depth and relevance of her senior project and allowed Mimansha to make important professional connections as well.”

Joshi believes water scarcity is one of the most important issues affecting the world. Whereas wars are currently fought over oil, someday, she said, they could likely be fought over water unless the resource is conserved and reclaimed.

Joshi is glad she used her RISE award for something meaningful. “I had the opportunity to visit another country and learn their cultures, and I also learned more about NEWater,” she said. “I don’t think I would have been able to learn as much by reading about it here as I would by going there and seeing what it looks like in person.”