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Water Filtration

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Submitted By vaniachristina
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The Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge is a way for first year engineering students to apply the skills they are learning in a “real world” scenario, while providing communities with support and solutions to problems that they face on a day to day basis.
For this year’s challenge we have selected the task of designing a solution to the village of Devikulam’s water supply and sanitation systems. Devikulam is a small village in India that comprises of 86 families and a population of approximately 358 people.
This report outlines the concerns the villagers have about the availability of clean drinking water and contaminants entering their water supply. Through our research we have found that although there are many ways to solve these issues it is imperative that we design a solution that is cost effective, sustainable and easily maintainable by the local villagers.
The villagers of Devikulam have raised the issues of saline water, lack of constant supply of water due to power shortages, poor condition of taps and bacteria in the water supply. The poor conditions of the taps and plumbing, has been rectified in July 2010 (Buzza, 2011). The concern of bacteria within the water supply, we believe, is the most pressing issue that needs to be resolved.
As a group we each collected data on different filtration options looking at ease of use and maintenance, power requirements, costs, if the process will remove the bacteria that are present in the Devikulam water supply, availability of materials and the life expectancy of each process. This data was collated into a trade-off analysis template and the criteria was weighted from most important requirements i.e. the removal of the bacteria to the least important. This template then calculated the best options for the village from the information we entered.
Due to the simplicity but effectiveness, slow sand filtration is the most viable and cost effective option. It removes 90-99% of all bacteria from the water leaving behind safe clean drinking water. After contacting EWB about the availability of sand in the area it was found that there is enough sand within the village to be able to pursue this process. The other benefit to this method is it has been tried and tested in similar situations around the world.
There are many options available for slow sand filtration from large units that can supply the entire village with clean water to stand-alone units that can be placed in each household. After looking at these options the most cost effective and simplistic option is the individual household unit. This brings the onus of maintenance etc... back to the family whose unit it is. This can stop conflict from poor maintenance practises and disputes over water availability. It is also a less complex method, as the maintenance requirements are lower due to the size.
One issue with sand filtration is the sand granules need to be within a certain specification which can average around 0.15mm to 0.35mm depending on filtration requirements. (Biosand Filter.org, 2004) For this we have decided on using sieves with specific sized mesh to manage the correct size of sand.
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Water Filtration
The final design consists of a 65 litre plastic drum for the housing of the filter media. The media consists of various layers of sand and gravel. As the unit will be operated intermittently it is essential that a layer of water is left on the surface to ensure the sand does not dry out. To combat this issue a PVC pipe will start from the bottom of the filter and be raised to approximately 5cm above the water level in the filter. This will ensure a layer of water will always remain in the filter unit.
The construction of the unit is relatively simple and the materials are available either within the village or locally. Sand filtration units have been used worldwide and have had great success in developing countries with water quality issues. As the only current issue with the water in Devikulam is bacteria levels the sand filter is the most effective option to combat this.
Implementing the sand filtration unit will eliminate the symptoms of the current village practices, allowing the community to solve the issues in due course but still having access to safe, clean drinking water.
Figure 1 Pond in Devikulam Village (Engineers Without Borders, 2011)…...

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