UK Firm Offers Clean, Affordable, Hassle-free Drinking Water for Communities

UK Firm Offers Clean, Affordable, Hassle-free Drinking Water for Communities

Water Reach, a UK-based not-for-profit has come up with a simple and affordable drinking water solution for remote communities. It has tested it in Uganda and is now ready to introduce it in India.

Its challenges are – it’s an NGO with limited funds and needs; needs demonstration models spread across the country; needs marketing mechanism, is yet to get a grasp on right pricing, among others.

Called ClariWash Self-Washing Filtration System, a new concept in water treatment, it is meant for communities comprising 1000 or so people. The firm says its “low maintenance water treatment system is suitable for long-term use in improving water quality for communities in developing countries which lack access to skilled operatives, technical support, spare or replacement parts.”

The system is hydraulically automatic and has no control system, does not need power supply or the need for an operator intervention. It requires only the energy of the well pump to self-wash. It has no moving parts, and no need for replacement parts.

The system provides a multi-barrier approach comprising aeration, clarification, filtration and disinfection targeting micro-biological pathogens, turbidity, suspended solids, particulate iron etc. Where possible the use of treatment chemicals is minimized.

It says the relatively complex conventional drinking water treatment processes used in the developed world is impractical in remoter parts of the developing world due to a lack of skilled operatives, lack of maintenance parts for electro-mechanical and control systems, unreliable power supply and poor access to treatment chemicals.

WaterReach Ltd is on a mission to meet the UN Sustainability Goal No 6 – clean water and sanitation. It provides an engineering design service to facilitate local assembly and deployment.

WaterReach’s executive Nigel Heeler was in India recently to understand the water market. He says, “In terms of my understanding of the India water situation it was clear that there are enormous challenges with the pressures of an increasing population, decreasing ground water levels due to over abstraction and aquifer pollution particularly during monsoons. The need for water conservation, water reuse and treatment solutions were apparent.”

HOW IT WORKS

Both its clarifier and the filter are cleaned in one cycle. The system is self-activating; once the filter is clogged with suspended solids the cycle is initiated by a U tube device causing high velocity water to prime a siphon system and flush the settled solids in the clarifier to waste. Once primed, the siphon then induces reverse flow through the filter bed to clean the filter media. When the wash cycle is complete, forward flow resumes. 

It takes one to two weeks to install depending on site location and experience.

WaterReach is seeking to link up with engineers involved in WASH projects, fabrication companies, water personnel. NGO’s and the like to explore avenues for deployment of the system.

COST

To make the system affordable to build and readily available to communities, it can be constructed by mainly using available items such as plastic pipes, plumbing and tanks. The system can be pre-assembled in a workshop setting using drawings and an assembly manual. Modular parts can then be erected on site. The system does not need a complex manufacturing process allowing rapid start-up at low cost. The system is replicable and scalable.

Cost of a single filter according to UK and Ugandan prices is working out to between $2,800 and $3,500. Cost per head of a community of 1000 persons with 15 litres per head per day depending on raw water quality may work out to between $3 and $4. “With scale and voluntary support, this cost could come down,” he says.

UGANDA

Several filters are currently in use at two locations in Uganda supplying a total of approximately 900 persons. Filters have been operational for two years without need for operational input.

Spokesman Nigel Heeler says the technology is new, but beyond proof of concept stage as filters are in operational use.

Write to Nigel Heeler at nigel.heeler@waterreach.co.uk.

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