22 July 2013

Honduras, India, and Katerva

AguaClara received the Katerva Award for urban design earlier this year. Check out the video...

AguaClara has water treatment plant projects under construction in Honduras and in India. We seem to be going down the alphabet and so perhaps Indonesia is next. I traveled to India in June and catalyzed a conversation to switch to solar powered pumps instead of diesel and that led to a whole redesign of the village water treatment scheme. The water will be pumped from a large hand dug lowland well to water treatment facility that is on top of an elevated storage tank.

Water supply system for villages in India using a traditional hand dug well as the water source, solar power to pump the water, and an AguaClara treatment plant located on top of the elevated storage tank. 

Construction is underway for two village level schemes in Jharkhand, India. These plants are the first water treatment plants that use direct filtration with stacked rapid sand filters. They may also be the first water treatment plants to be built on top of an overhead tank!

At the end of my travels in India I visited the state of Punjab to give a presentation on AguaClara to engineers working for the Punjab Department of Water Supply and Sanitation.

They are considering switching from heavy metal contaminated groundwater to surface waters. They have experience with over 700 slow sand filters and are interested in learning about and potentially implementing the AguaClara water treatment option. The Punjab has 6168 villages that rely on tube wells and 1535 villages that rely on hand pumps and thus a switch to surface water sources will be a major investment.

The addition of the stacked rapid sand filter and floc blankets to the AguaClara suite of technologies means that the AguaClara technologies outperform conventional mechanized water treatment plants. Not only do we use less energy, cost less to build, cost less to operate, but we also produce the highest quality water. AguaClara will need to grow. That growth is already underway with AguaClara working on two continents.

There is only one stacked rapid sand filter on planet earth (at Tamara, Honduras) that is producing drinking water (there are several stacked rapid sand filters in our labs at Cornell). Now we have a competition between India and Honduras to see where on the planet the 2nd stacked rapid sand filter will be inaugurated. A fabricator in Ranchi, India is working hard to build six 0.8 L/s filters and in Honduras they are building two 16 L/s stacked rapid sand filters in San Nicolas, Santa Barbara.

The plant at San Nicolas will be the first water treatment plant to be designed with a stacked rapid sand filter. This will be the second stacked rapid sand filter to be constructed in Honduras. The San Nicolas plant is also the first water treatment plant to have an off center delivery of flocculated water into the sedimentation tank to improve the stability of the floc blankets. Floc blankets significantly improve the performance of water treatment plants and reduce the amount of coagulant that is needed. A 3rd innovation at San Nicolas will be a dual chemical dose controller that combines the controls for chlorination and coagulation.

Stay tuned for more updates on these projects to bring safe drinking water to more communities!