• Hans van Mameren

And first there needs to be water

Water is the first necessity for life. But we need it in a conditional way. Safe and free of pathogens and harmful chemicals. In developed countries this is accepted as a given fact. For less blessed regions all kinds of technologies are developed. But a lot of these solutions look quite pitying. Why should a village on a remote island or in a mountainous region have to do with a less advanced system than a rich and highly developed region? All communities are entitled to a first-class water system. Unless one wants to call them second class people.

In developed regions such as Europe, Singapore, Japan and others, good quality drinking water flows from the tap in your own house. To buy mineral water, flat or sparkling, is more of a trending decadency than a health issue. Tap water contains all one needs. Why should that be different in Africa or SE Asia?

The technology to build a simple system for a remote community is available and the costs are not the obstacle. More and more of these small-scale systems are being deployed. And when combined with other utility provisions such as electrical energy in micro-grid format nearly every community can save costs on essential utilities.

But the layout has to be complete and fully circular and sustainable. From the source, either river- ground or rainwater, water needs to be filtered and then sanitized through a closed piping system into an elevated storage tank. The ultrafiltration systems that are available will deliver pathogen and microplastics-free water. Simple dosing systems will chlorinate the stored water in a safe way and keeps it safe for consumption. From there through a tight piping system to the households in a community, all the way to the tap.

Not to a village square where women or children must fill a canister from one single tap. In that way water pollution is around the corner again. These people are not second class. They don’t have to use a handpump. It can be delivered at their sink.

After being consumed it becomes waste water. It then needs to be treated the same way as in every developed region. Into a safe drainage and into a treatment plant. In small scale units this can be a simple but still effective solution. Wetland filtration is effective, simple and cheap. It is a matter of building the layout of a sewage system with all households connected.

The present Covid-19 pandemic shows the importance of good sanitation. In Europe Covid-19 infections are also found in the sewage. And that comes from faces of infected people. A system is only safe when it is complete, in a closed circle and build with the right components. And all this is available and ready to be installed.

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