Undergraduate students at the University of Louisville have invented a new tool to measure E.coli bacteria in streams. The tool, made from PVC pipe, includes a special type of sediment material that can stay in a stream for up to a month, saving time and money. Because it stays in the stream, it provides a more cumulative sample than isolated tests. The students have applied for a patent for the system.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and that’s true in this case. The busy students were volunteering on a service project with the Metropolitan Sewer District, Bernheim Forest, and The Nature Conservancy. Frequent testing had them scurrying to Beargrass Creek, Bernheim Forest, and other locations in between classes to gather samples. The new tool solves that problem and also provides a more cumulative way to test water. The students plan to test the new tool on other substances, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.