Small island developing states, such as the Maldives, have a small groundwater lens that supplies most of the domestic or irrigational need for water. Due to several reasons, this groundwater lens can become polluted: for example by overextraction, storm surge events, over-use of fertilizers, or by leaking septic tanks.
To measure groundwater quality, a field lab is required. With the isolation of the Maldivian islands, this meant that our suitcases were filled with equipment for a wide range of field parameters, such as: nitrate, E. Coli (for an indication of pathogens), electroconductivity, pH and dissolved oxygen sensors, alkalinity, ammonium and a suitcase solely for the silt density index. After measuring, groundwater would also be filtered and cooled to bring back to the Netherlands for further analysis in the Waterlab.
For the places where there was no well, auger holes were drilled to reach to groundwater levels. In the first days it became clear that E. Coli was present in some of the wells, meaning that domestic wastewater was likely finding its way into the ground.