The University of East Anglia are to launch a £7.6m research project to improve the safety of European drinking water.

Water - Morgue FilePhoto: Morgue File.

The five-year project called Aquavalens, funded by the European Union’s Framework Programme 7 will look to develop and put into practice faster ways of detecting viruses, parasites and bacteria in water before they can make people ill.

Around 330,000 cases of water-related disease are reported yearly in Europe according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The research will be led by Professor Paul Hunter from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, with partners including small businesses, industries, universities and research institutes.

Professor Hunter said: “Although most European countries are fortunate to have some of the safest drinking water in the world, outbreaks of disease do still occur each year. With the technologies we currently have it can take two or more days to identify infectious risks in drinking water.

“This project will develop more rapid methods so that problems can be identified earlier. It will prevent people becoming sick by stopping them drinking contaminated water.”

The project will progress in four phases as technologies to detect microbes will be developed and then tested before then being integrated into existing practices.