DC startup uses data to personalize water filters

D.C.-based startup Hydroviv is aiming for its high-tech home water filters to improve the quality of drinking water.

Company founder Eric Roy is a chemist, and his company tailors its water filters by digging through “piles of water quality data” to identify and filter area-specific contaminants such as lead.

Online Chat: Beth Killoran, deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology and chief information officer at HHS, on March 28.

The issue of safe and clean water in the United States has gathered much attention in the past few years, especially with cases like the one in Flint, Mich. Flint has been without access to clean water for almost three years.

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Roy started Hydroviv in 2015 and doesn’t know of any other companies personalizing optimized water filters.

“From a filtration standpoint, water should be handled differently, but we’re really the only ones making optimized filters out there,” Roy told What’s Working in Washington, noting that crises such as Flint’s aren’t necessarily outliers.

“What happened in Flint actually happened in Washington, D.C. as well, about a decade and a half ago, between 2001 and 2006. Washington, DC, lost control of the corrosion control, and a lot of lead leached from pipes,” he said.

“In old cities, you have lead pipes in the ground. That’s a reality,” said Roy. It’s not usually a problem unless municipalities lose control of water chemistry. But when control is lost, it’s possible for lead to leach into the water supply. “Obviously once that happens, children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning,” he said.

“It’s kind of nice to develop things that can actually have a positive impact on people’s everyday [lives].”

Roy said he chose D.C. to start his company because “it’s full of smart people, there’s no way around it, and there’s this really growing entrepreneurial community. It’s a really interesting time in Washington, D.C. because people are actually starting to live here, as opposed to just passing through,” he said.

Much of that entrepreneurial community is made of millennials looking for a mission. “You’re looking at people getting younger in D.C., and you’re looking at people looking to make a change,” Roy said.

“We just get cold calls from people [who say], ‘I love what you’re doing, what can we do to help?’”