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 low and middle income 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 / activated carbon 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 was the director of the DeRISK Center (2014-2018) and 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

  • Water Conservation and Water Quality: Understanding the Impacts of New Technologies and New Operational Strategies, USEPA / Drexel University

  • Advanced Wastewater Treatment by Coagulation, Ozonation/Biofiltration and GAC Adsorption for the Control of Disinfection by Products, Brown&Caldwell/ NSF/ Water Research Foundation/ and various utilities

  • Modifications to the USEPA Water Treatment Plant Model - Microbial and Disinfectant By-Products Data Collection and Analysis, Cadmus

  • Sorption of organic micropollutants in San Juan River water by biochar and activated carbon: flow-through column prediction using rapid batch sorption tests, US Bureau of Reclamation.

  • Technical and Administrative Support for the USEPA National Drinking Water Program, Cadmus