Thursday, March 22, 2007

Water Water Everywhere!

But how much does it cost???

Near and dear to my heart is the subject of Clean Water and since today is "World Water Day" it seems appropriate to comment.

First, I'd like to say that there is apparently a plethora of groups and agencies that have decided to concern themselves with water quality. Some are interested in protecting existing sources. Some are interested in cleaning up already polluted bodies of water. Some are interested in getting water to where there is little or none. Some are interested in making water safe to drink.

It's the last one that has my interest more than anything because we have developed right here in Canada a few systems that use very simple and very old methods that can be combined with some new and sophisticated technologies to take just about any crap infested water and make it safe to drink.

The first is what is known as bio-filtration and it was originated by the Romans as far as I know.
In any case the principal is that there are organisms in all water that is contaminated that live off the contaminants in the water. It is so stupifyingly simple that I cannot see any reason that this approach is not used globally. You make a container and you put a drain in the bottom with a screen. You put some gravel on top of the screened drain and then put some sand on top of that! You put water in the top and wait for it to percolate through the sand. The water that comes out is nearly pure right from the start and in most cases safe to wash in if not drink. The next thing that happens is a bit of natures magic. As the system works over the next few days to weeks it becomes a prime habitat for those organisms that were mentioned previously. These little friends are presented with an over abundance of their favorite foods and besides growing in number from the steady arrival of newcomers start to multiply exponentially in their newly enriched habitat. The good organisms grow to such a mass that they will eventually plug up the tank but the water coming out gets more pure all the time! The mass which is called a schmutzdecke is easily cleaned up by scraping off the top of the tank and the flow through the system can be restored by taking some clean water that's been saved and pumping it back through the sand tank. Very little work for the benefit of sustaining clean potable water.

The true beauty of the bio-filter is that for low tech environments the whole thing can be done using manual water handling!

Now! I ask this: With the millions upon millions of dollars being spent to improve conditions in undeveloped regions of the world, WHY is this technology NOT being taught and deployed across the board?

Where are the NGOs and other supposed helpers and what are they doing?

Look up - Slow Sand water filter- or - Bio-filtration-


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Anonymous Fergy said...

If your interested, I am a sales rep for Rochester Midland now, They have a huge biologics departmen. They use bacteria to digest grease traps clean up fuel spills and especially water. They have a neat slideshow presentation on just that.

Let me know

3/22/2007 9:15 p.m.  

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