Professor Summers’ traditional research focus has been on drinking water quality, treatment and modeling, with special interest in natural organic matter, disinfection by-products, trace organic contaminants and taste & odor as related to activated carbon adsorption, biological treatment, coagulation, filtration, membrane processes, disinfectant behavior and distribution systems. For the last 10 years he has researched water treatment technologies for developing communities including ceramic water filters, slow sand filters and biochar. Most recently he has been evaluating the treatment of alternative water sources (stormwater, greywater, wastewater effluent and combined sewer overflow) with the use of coagulation, biofiltration and biochar adsorption.

In the last five years he has had collaborative research projects and publications with a wide range of CU colleagues including Professors Cook, Rosario-Ortiz, Rajagopalan, Corwin, Seidel, Linden, Bielefeldt, Kasprzyk and Livneh and external colleagues including professors Detlef Knappe (NC State) and Aaron Dotson (Univ. Alaska). He has served as the research advisor for eight postdoctoral researchers.


He is the director of the DeRISK Center (2014-present) and was director of the Center for Drinking Water Optimization (1998-2004) both funded by the USEPA and both with a focus on small drinking water systems. He has been the principal investigator (PI) or coPI of over 30 research projects (>$15M) sponsored by a wide range of agencies including EPA-ORD, EPA-OGWDW, Water Research Foundation, NSF, Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and over 30 water utilities, state agencies and consulting firms (OH, CO, CA, AZ, KY, NY, IN, ND, NM, AL, RI, FL).

Current projects

  • National Center for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems -Design of Risk reducing, Innovative Small system Knowledge (DeRISK) Center,  USEPA           
  • Simultaneous Removal of Multiple Chemical Contaminants using Biofiltration, Water Research Foundation / Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Wildfire Impacts on Drinking Water Treatment Process Performance: Development of Evaluation Protocols and Management Practices, Water Research Foundation
  • GAC Control of Regulated and Emerging DBPs of Health Concern, Water Research Foundation / Hazen and Sawyer
  • Water Conservation and Water Quality: Understanding the Impacts of New Technologies and New Operational Strategies, USEPA / Drexel University
  • An integrated modeling and decision framework to evaluate adaptation strategies for sustainable drinking water utility management under drought and climate change, USEPA / Water Research Foundation
  • Advanced Wastewater Treatment by Coagulation, Ozonation/Biofiltration and GAC for the Control of Disinfection by Products, Arcadis/ Water Research Foundation/ NSF
  • DeRISK Center