Clean drinking water may soon become an affordable commodity for the poor people. Researchers say every household can build its own unit of clean drinking water. The project, aimed at coming up with a low-cost, low-maintenance water filtration system to filter water and remove pathogens from it seems to fulfill what one wishes for.
Ivo Romauld, a research associate in the project says, “There are layers of blue metal (jalli stones), charcoal and sand. We have used a cheap plastic mesh. This can take out anything from particulate matter to dissolved substances to pathogens from the water and deliver water that is up to 98 percent pure.”
The project is funded by International Development Research Centre, through the University of Guelph in Canada, and is being run by a team of three researchers under the Environmental and Water Resources Division of the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT-Madras.
Ramprasad, another research associate says, “We first tried to do it with the kodams (traditional pots for storing water). Then, we found that their capacity was just not enough. So we moved on to buckets and on to the current barrel configuration. If the capacity isn’t enough, the poor people are not going to use it,” Though it may look simple, the project has taken over two years to be in action.
The cost of the water filter is about Rs 700 to 800 and is easy to repeat, “We have been trying the filter with slum dwellers at the Mylai Balaji Nagar near Pallikarani, who have no water and end up drinking unprocessed water from the lake. We have given residents of that locality 60 of these units at a highly subsidized rate. They can also make these if they want to, because it is very cheap and easy, and can be made anywhere in the country,” says Ramprasad.
A Rapid Water Testing Kit, which is equipped to run tests across 14 parameters for more than 50 samples, has been developed by the research team. The cost of the kit is less than Rs 4,000 a unit and has been distributed widely across Krishnagiri district.