6. Water treatment

6.1 Introduction
Water can be contaminated by the following agents:
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Pathogens – disease-causing organisms that include bacteria, amoebas and viruses, as well as the eggs and larvae of parasitic worms. Harmful chemicals from human activities (industrial wastes, pesticides, fertilizers). Chemicals and minerals from the natural environment, such as arsenic, common salt and fluorides. Some non-harmful contaminants may influence the taste, smell, colour or temperature of water, and make it unacceptable to the community.

Water from surface sources is often contaminated by microbes, whereas groundwater is normally safer, but even groundwater can be contaminated by harmful chemicals from human activities or from the natural environment. Rainwater captured by a rooftop harvesting system or with small catchment dams is relatively safe, provided that the first water is allowed to flow to waste when the rainy season starts. The amount of water to be treated should also be assessed. This can be estimated by assuming that each person will need a minimum of 20–50 litres of water a day for drinking, cooking, laundry and personal hygiene. A community should be consulted when choosing a water-treatment system and should be made aware of the costs associated with the technology. In particular, community members should be made aware of the behavioural and/or cultural changes needed to make the system effective over the long-term and thus be acceptable to them. Communities may also need to be educated about protecting water sources from animal or human contamination, and mobilized. It should be emphasized that all the positive effects of a water-treatment system could be jeopardized if the water is not drawn, stored and transported carefully and hygienically. The Fact Sheets in this section deal with both community and household methods for treating water. Some household treatment methods and their effectiveness are summarized in Table 6.1, whereas the following household and community water-treatment technologies are described in greater detail: Household water-treatment systems — boiling; — household slow sand filter; — domestic chlorination. Community water-treatment systems — storage and sedimentation; — up-flow roughing filter; — slow sand filtration; — chlorination in piped water-supply systems.

or by allowing it to trickle through perforated trays containing small stones. of little effect (☺). highly effective (☺☺☺). Mn — Fluoride — Arsenic — Salts — Odour. otherwise the filter will get clogged. taste — Organic matter Turbidity ☺☺☺ ☺ ☺ — — — ☺☺☺ — — — ☺☺ ☺ — ☺ — ☺☺☺ ☺ — — — ☺ ☺ ☺☺ ☺ — ☺ ☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ — ☺ ☺ ☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺ — ☺☺ — ☺☺ ☺ ☺☺☺ a b Adapted from: Skinner & Shaw (1998). flocculation and settlement In coagulation. Water can easily be aerated by shaking it in a vessel. sand filtration to be effective. Storage/pre-settlement Storing water for only one day can eliminate some bacteria. The treatments were categorized as being: of no effect. The water is then gently stirred to allow the particles to come together and form larger particles (flocculation). A potential problem is that some households do not use this technology effectively and the water can remain contaminated. Pathogens are naturally removed in the top layer where a biological film builds up.1 HOUSEHOLD WATER-TREATMENT SYSTEMS AND THEIR EFFECTIVENESSa Effectiveness over factors that affect water quality Treatment system Straining through fine cloth Consists in pouring raw water through a piece of fine. settlement or filtration. The top water can then be used after sedimentation. or of unknown effectiveness (—). Good aeration of the water is also important for slow. The amount of coagulant needed will depend on the nature of the contaminating chemical compounds and solids. which can then be removed by sedimentation. Coagulation. . the more the suspended solids and pathogens will settle to the bottom of the container. such as aluminium sulfate. Slow sand filtration Water passes slowly downwards through a bed of fine sand at a steady rate. clean. moderately effective (☺☺). amoebas —b Guineaworm Cercaria — Fe. cotton cloth to remove some of the suspended solids. Aeration Oxidizes iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn). especially if there is not enough oxygen in the surface water.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 72 TABLE 6. but it should be stored for 48 hours to eliminate cercaria (snail larvae). The water should not be too turbid. Bacteria. is added to the water to attract suspended particles. a liquid coagulant. The longer the water is stored.

Mn Fluoride — Arsenic — Salts — Odour. is to expose (half-blackened) clear glass/ plastic bottles of water to the sun. centred around midday. Shaking the bottle before irradiation increases the effectiveness of the treatment. compared to filters in which the water flows downwards. In tropical areas. amoebas Guineaworm Cercaria Fe. odour and colour of the water. Filters with very small pores can remove most pathogens. It is easier to remove trapped debris from upflow sand filters. Charcoal filter Granular charcoal (or granulated activated carbon) can be used in filtration and is effective in improving the taste. porous ceramic jars can also be used. An easy way to do this. it should be replaced regularly. Bacteria. unglazed ceramic cylinder and impurities are deposited on its surface. taste Organic matter Turbidity ☺ ☺☺ ☺ ☺☺ ☺ ☺ ☺☺ — ☺☺ ☺☺ ☺ — — — ☺☺☺ — ☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ — — — — ☺☺ ☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺ ☺☺ — — — — — — — . The ceramic filter method can only be used with fairly clear water.1 CONTINUED Effectiveness over factors that affect water quality Treatment system Rapid sand filtration The sand used is coarser than in slow sand filtration and the flow rate is higher. The water must be clear for this treatment to be effective. most pathogens can be killed by exposing the contaminated water to sun for five hours. WATER TREATMENT 73 TABLE 6. Open. The method is used to remove suspended solids and is effective after the water has been cleared with coagulation/flocculation. However. Ceramic filter The filter is a porous. because bacteria can breed in it. There is no build-up of biological film. hence the water will still need to be disinfected. and increasing the temperature of the water enhances the effectiveness of the radiation.6. Solar disinfection Ultraviolet radiation from the sun will destroy most pathogens.

LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 74 TABLE 6. Smith & Shaw (1995). Several chlorine compounds. chemical disinfection inactivates pathogenic organisms and the method can be used with large volumes of water.5 mg per litre of treated water) can be maintained in the water supply to provide ongoing disinfection. powders (such as bleaching powder). The method can be expensive because of the capital investment needed and because fuel/charcoal is used to heat the water. but do not always eliminate them completely. because the effectiveness of chlorination depends on the quality of the untreated water. and purpose-made tablets can be used. And although boiling and solar disinfection are effective. and many are killed at lower temperatures (e.1. If the water is excessively turbid. 70 °C). such as sodium hypochlorite and calcium hypochlorite. amoebas Guineaworm — Cercaria Fe. and free residual chlorine (0. Desalination/evaporation Desalination by distillation produces water without chemical salts and the method can be used at household level. Iodine can also be used as a chemical disinfectant. Liquids (such as bleach). Boiling Bringing the water to a rolling boil will kill most pathogens. however. but the active chlorine concentrations of such sources can be different and this should be taken into account when calculating the amount of chlorine to add to the water. taste Organic matter Turbidity — ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ — — — — ☺ ☺ — ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ ☺☺☺ 6.g. In contrast. Chlorine compounds usually destroy pathogens after 30 minutes of contact time. This approach can be expensive. The volume of water produced is also low. Mn — Fluoride — Arsenic — Salts — Odour. it should be filtered or allowed to settle before chlorinating it. 1 From Parr. Deciding on the right amount of chlorine to use can be difficult.2–0. which may vary according to the season. because fuel/charcoal is needed to boil the water.1 Should water be chlorinated?1 The water-treatment methods described above can reduce the number of pathogens in water. . can be used domestically. The amount of chlorine that will be needed to kill the pathogens will be affected by the quality of the untreated water and by the strength of the chlorine compound used. the methods are impractical with large volumes of water. Bacteria.1 CONTINUED Effectiveness over factors that affect water quality Treatment system Chemical disinfection Chlorination is the most widely used method of disinfecting drinking-water.

stains laundry and white enamel on sinks and bowls. by aerating the water and filtering it through sand and gravel. A transparent container is filled with water and exposed to full sunlight for several hours. WATER TREATMENT 75 6. This can be the result of a naturally high iron content in the soil. followed by filtration and settlement. and discolours food. the water is then left to settle at the same time it is being chlorinated. Although such levels of iron are not known to be harmful. WHO recommends that the water be brought to a vigorous boil. but again the water can be treated by aeration. the WHO guideline value).1 mg/l. most organisms that cause diarrhoea. which has been tested both in the laboratory and in the field. Arsenic concentrations greater than the WHO guideline value of 0. One easy and simple way to treat water is to use the SODIS system (SOlar DISinfection). The sand and gravel used in the filters will need to be cleaned periodically. The iron gives the water an unpleasant metallic taste and odour.3 mg/l.2 Reducing the concentration of chemicals in water Iron and manganese Water collected from boreholes can have a high concentration of iron (greater than 0. 6. the WHO guideline value). instead of safe water that has a metallic taste. the implementation should always be carefully planned and supported by the community. As soon as the water temperature reaches 50 °C. followed by settlement. water is mostly boiled in a pot on a stove.1 The technology Heating water is an effective way to kill the microorganisms in it. Low-cost treatment methods include the Nalgonda system (which uses lime to soften the water). If it is not to be stored in the same pot in which it was boiled. More information on this method can be obtained from the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG). the WHO guideline value) can damage bones and teeth. the undesirable properties can cause communities to accept contaminated water that has no taste.3 Solar disinfection1 The principle underlying solar disinfection is that microorganisms are vulnerable to light and heat. borehole casings and screens). the water 1 2 From Wegelin & Sommer (1998). but if the water is to be filtered. Most of the iron can be removed simply. the inactivation process is accelerated and usually leads to complete bacteriological disinfection. . Similar problems arise when water has excessive manganese concentrations (above 0.1.01 mg/ l are toxic. Simple treatment methods include adding lime to soften the water.1. and using alum as a coagulant. or by deposition from the atmosphere. 6. High turbidity does not affect disinfection by boiling. With either treatment.2 Boiling2 6. or the result of corrosion (from iron pipes. this must be done before boiling. It can also enter water bodies in industrial effluents. or inactivate. When arsenic (or fluoride) is to be removed at household level. This will kill. Gilman & Skillicorn (1985).2.6. Fluoride High concentrations of fluoride (above 1. or adding alum as a coagulant. For household use. Arsenic Arsenic is widely distributed throughout the Earth’s crust and enters water as dissolved minerals.5 mg/l.

Wood. hammer. sometimes with herbs added to the water. The necessary skills for O&M activities are usually available in all communities.2 Main O&M activities Disinfection of water by heating is norFigure 6. bag. and the time involved in boiling and cooling the water. The frequency with which the stove will need to be repaired or replaced will depend on stove design. Occasionally — repair the stove. sand. — clean the stove. sand. metal. Fuel costs. can. 6. steel saw. Technical skills. — boil the water. welder. fuel prices continue to rise in most parts of the world. ashes.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — collect fuel. brush. When fuel has to be collected or treated. — clean the containers.2. and earthen pots often need to be replaced. kerosene. ashes. Blacksmith. monitor boiled water supply. cattle dung. Cloth. boil water. The water is then allowed to cool down. soap. Stove. stones. the water is brought to a rolling boil in a clean pot on a stove. clean utensils. limit the usefulness of this method. pot.2. 6. Water. fuel. ☺ ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. Repair metal stove. Care must be taken not to contaminate the water after boiling. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment .2 Boiling of water mally carried out within the household. Water. brush. Cloth. Mud. 6. Also. In the kitchen. Water. so that the heat of the boiled water will kill most of the bacteria in the storage container. repair mud stove. this may take up a lot of a household’s time.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 76 should be poured into a clean storage container immediately after boiling. Pots are seldom repaired.2. the quality of materials and workmanship.3 Actors and their roles Actors Roles Skills required Household member. 1985). A study in Bangladesh estimated it would cost 7% of the average family budget to boil all the water for the village (Gilman & Skillicorn. and intensity of use. Collect fuel and water. charcoal. Pliers. Rope. everyday maintenance includes checking the stove and pots. soap. Usually.

1 m/hour (1 m3 m-2 h-1). expensive. water is passed slowly downwards through a bed of sand. At this point. the flow rate in the filter will become too low. Area of use: In places where drinking-water is unsafe and needs to be purified at household level. viruses and organic matter in the water. Instead of steel barrels.6. they must be treated with cement mortar. A floating weir (that can be made of a bowl.45 m in diameter. (or a few months.3. and gives them time to purify the water. WATER TREATMENT 77 6. 6. while microorganisms grow on top of the sand filter and feed on bacteria.2 Main O&M activities For a slow sand filter to be effective.2. After a few weeks of operation. or any safe protective paint.3 Household slow sand filter1 6. a filter tank and a clean water tank. physical and chemical processes. With good operation and maintenance.1 m/h. This provides the organisms in the filter with a stable flow of nutrients and oxygen. 6. where it is treated by a combination of biological.5 Potential problems — the water becomes recontaminated after boiling. Yield: 380 litres per day for a tank 0. Manufacturers: Local artisans can make a household slow sand filter.3 Household flows and filter flow of water to the top of the filter tank. tanks of ferrocement and other materials can also be used. a household slow sand filter produces water virtually free from disease-causing organisms. 1–2 cm of sand and 1 USAID (1982). the flow of water must be maintained at a constant 0. — fuel for boiling the water is scarce and. Initial cost: This depends on the local cost of used metal drums and other parts. — boiled water tastes flat – this may be corrected by adding herbs to the water during boiling and not drinking it for six hours after it has been boiled. All tanks should be protected with lids. The flow rate of the water is regulated by adjusting the floating weir. . where it is purified by passing downwards through a 45–60-cm bed of washed sand and a 5-cm layer of fine gravel. consequently. The raw-water storage tank must never be allowed to empty. The water flows through the sand at about 0. two small tubes and a hose) in the supply tank maintains a constant Figure 6.1 The technology With a household slow sand filter. The system consists of a raw-water supply tank.3. The filter can be made of clean 200litre steel barrels connected by hoses. Fine particles in the water are filtered out by the sand. To prevent oxidation of the steel barrels. Water drains from the bottom layer of the filter tank via a perforated tube and is led to a clean water-storage tank. depending on the quality of the rawwater).

3 Actors and their roles Actors Family member. Every year. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment 6. Yearly or less — restore sand. When the filter bed becomes too thin.3. and in the O&M of the filtering system. — if the water flow is interrupted for more than a few hours. Scraper. and then placing the sand just taken out on top of the filter. change sand filter. It may also be beneficial to have a local laboratory to support and train families on water-quality issues. or if the surface of the filter runs dry. the tanks must be checked for corrosion. As a household slow sand filter is operated at family or household level. Highly qualified. regulate flow. spare tap. Technical skills. bucket. spanners. — disinfect clean water tank. — check flow rate. Construct system.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 78 organic material must be scraped off the top of the filter. Local artisan. Bowl. check water quality. sieve. 6. wash. clean recycled and new sand. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). Water. At least one person in each household should be trained in matters of hygiene. and any leaks repaired immediately.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — fill raw-water reservoir. repair taps and leaks. and a hose or tap may need to be repaired. perform small repairs. Every two years — replace hoses. the clean-water tank may need to be disinfected with chlorine. Screwdriver. Occasionally.3. Train family members. Water. 6. fill raw-water tank. dried in the sun and put aside. beneficial microorganisms in the filter may die and the effectiveness of the filter may be impaired. External support. the washed sand is restored. the organizational structure for operation already exists. adding back the washed sand from previous operations. dry and store it. . Hose. spoon. in which case a pre-filter may be needed. Occasionally — repair tap. washed. Knife. Washer. Raw water. This is done by taking some more sand from the top of the filter. Bucket. Chlorine. Skills required ☺ ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. Bucket. — excessive turbidity (>30 NTU) in the raw water can cause the filter to clog rapidly.5 Potential problems — water quality drops if the flow rate through the filter is too high. Watch. About every six weeks — scrape off sand from top of filter.3. Roles Use water.

the quality of the untreated water. In some cases.6. chlorine-producing chemicals are added directly added to the water. other materials such as burnt rice husks can be used. — in some regions. — smooth vertical surfaces in the filter tank may cause short circuits in the water flow. Dazzle. Halamid. It can be prepared at household level. which can be determined using a special test kit. Milton. a carefully measured amount of concentrated chlorine solution is added to a container with a known amount of clear water. to let the chlorine react and oxidize any organic matter in the water. the water is safe to drink. sodium tablet hypochlorite. producing badly-filtered water. The mixture is stirred and left for at least 30 minutes. but also in larger quantities and distributed among the households. 6. Area of use: Wherever drinking-water needs to be disinfected at household level. sand is expensive or difficult to get – as an alternative. Regina. After this. When water quality cannot be trusted. Zonite and many others. WATER TREATMENT 79 — when water quality is very poor. Yield: About 150–1400 m3 treated water per kg of dry chemical. Halazone. depending on the water quality and the strength of the concentrated chemical. A concentrated chlorine solution should be used within a relatively short time (defined according to the compound used) before it loses its strength.5 mg/l. The amount of chlorine needed depends mainly on the concentration of organic matter in the water and has to be determined for each situation. The concentrated chlorine solution can be made of clear water and chlorine-producing chemi.1 The technology Chlorination of water at household level can be used as an emergency measure or as part of everyday life. and can thus be expensive. Javelle.Figure 6. — household slow sand filters require a substantial investment and dedicated O&M. such as bleaching powder. and chlorine is available.4 Water chlorination at household level1 6. After 30 minutes. the residual concentration of active chlorine in the water should be between 0. or organic chlorine tablets. Some chlorine products come in combination with a flocculant to help settle suspended material in the water. without prior dilution.4. Initial cost: The costs depend on the type of chlorine compound used.2–0. 1 White (1986) . harmful and bad-tasting products like ammonia may be formed in the lower layers of the filter. Trademarks: Chlor-dechlor. etc.4 Domestic chlorination using a chlorine cals.

chlorine-producing chemicals lose their strength quickly – even when stored under the best conditions. spoon.5 Potential problems — if the water quality varies over time. clear water. there will be logistical and administrative problems.2 Main O&M activities In some cases. Highly qualified. train water users. Concentrated chlorine solution.4. scale. — if they are not stored properly.4. Clean water. Weekly — prepare concentrated chlorine solution. 6. Prepare concentrated chlorine solution. the required dose of chlorine has to be recalculated. Basic skills.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 80 6. clean the containers and utensils. If the concentrated chlorine solution or chlorine-producing chemicals are provided by an external organization. stirring rod.3 Actors and their roles Actors Roles Skills required Household member. and care should be taken not to get any of the chemicals in the eyes or on clothes. Determine doses. test media. measuring cup. Chlorine-producing chemicals should be stored in a cool. Hypochlorite. — clean containers and utensils.g. and training to deal with.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — treat the water with chlorine. 6. Occasionally — recalculate the proper chlorine dose. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). Test kit. chlorinated lime. . soap. Disinfection with chlorine can easily be learned and needs to be done regularly. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment 6. Sometimes communities organize the buying of chemicals themselves..4. dry place. Local health worker. Brush or cloth. Local shopkeeper. — chlorine-producing chemicals and test media are often not readily available. or provide the chlorine chemical itself. External support. clear water. Water sample. the water will need to be pre-treated (e. etc. no maintenance is needed. to remove particulate matter. Apart from cleaning and occasional replacement of containers and utensils. by filtering). Disinfect the water. but even then some training at household level will be useful.4. bleaching powder loses half of its strength in about a year. Water container. ☺ ☺ ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. Sell chlorine chemical. Bottle.

0 m. While one is in use.5. Initial cost: Depends on the type of construction. but when the water quality becomes too poor and there is sufficient water stored in the reservoir. the longer the water needs to be retained in Figure 6. and a bottom outlet to flush the deposited material. suspended particles slowly settle to the bottom of a storage tank.1 The technology The quality of raw water can be improved considerably by storage. 0. or where the quality or quantity of the water at the source varies considerably. The reservoir can be constructed in several ways: — below ground level. clay or concrete. — with a lining of loam. the water intake may be stopped temporarily. 1 Water Research Centre and WHO Regional Office for Europe (1989).6. will die after storage for at least 48 hours. the other can be cleaned. non-colloidal. If the suspended matter precipitates very slowly. .5 Storage and sedimentation the reservoir. In contrast. with a lining of plastic sheeting to separate the stored water from the ground.2 Main O&M activities Usually. Reservoirs for sedimentation usually have two separate sections. a large storage reservoir can also provide an alternative temporary source of water. Area of use: Wherever raw water contains high concentrations of suspended solids. During storage. Occasionally. The smaller the suspended particles. All valves in the system must be opened and closed at least once every two months to keep them from becoming stuck. — entirely from brick or concrete. Range of depth: Usually. Treatment time: A few hours to several days.7–2. an outlet on the opposite side just beneath the water level. colloidal particles remain in suspension. for example. and leaks in the reservoir will have to be fixed. WATER TREATMENT 81 6. The reservoir will have to be flushed regularly to remove the deposited silt – the frequency for this will depend on the silt content of the water and the reservoir depth. chemicals can be added to induce coagulation and flocculation.5 Storage and sedimentation1 6. the valves may need to be repaired or replaced. They have an intake on one side of the reservoir (or at the bottom). Apart from some help from the water users to clean the reservoir after it has been flushed. the system requires little support from an established organization to maintain it.5. water will be let in to the storage reservoir every day or continuously. Schistosoma larvae. and solar radiation will kill some of the harmful organisms in the water. When the water quantity or quality at the source is temporarily low. 6.

LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 82 6.5. Basic skills. which should be repaired immediately. Galvis et al. spare valve. sand. as well as the amount of iron and manganese. Spanners.5 m deep. Washers. An upflow filter box can be made of bricks. bucket. Plastic. usually a perfo1 Wolters & Visscher (1989). — repair leaks. — if the solids in the water do not settle quickly enough. 6. Broom. cement. nuts and bolts. Assist in cleaning the reservoir.3 Actors and their roles Actors Caretaker. It can have a round or rectangular shape. Water committee. hammer. Occasionally — repair the valves.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — regulate the inlet. (1993). upflow and horizontal flow filters). Regularly — flush deposited silt. Upflow roughing filters are relatively cheap and easier to clean than downflow or horizontal flow filters. clay. coconut husk fibre). and with different types of filter medium (e. concrete or ferrocement. . Roughing filters can also considerably reduce the number of pathogens in the water. Technical skills. Spade. gravel. etc.6 Upflow roughing filter1 6. ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. chisel. etc.5. There are many types of roughing filters with different flow directions (downflow. and it is usually about 1. Water user. Repair the valve. spade. perform small repairs. hoe. etc. coagulation and flocculation may be needed. Local or area mechanic. Supervise the caretaker. trowel. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity).g. pipe threader.1 The technology Roughing filters are often used to pretreat water by removing suspended solids from the water that could rapidly clog a slow sand filter. sand. wrench. bucket. Repair leaks in the brickwork or concrete. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment 6.5. screwdriver. Roles Regulate the water flow. with vertical or partially inclined walls.5 Potential problems — leaks. Skills required ☺ Local or area mason. Every two months — open and close the valves. flush the reservoir. 6.6. Water flows in through an underdrain system on the bottom.

the filter should be cleaned about once a month. on top of which lie several layers of finer gravel and coarse sand. After a year or more (depending on the turbidity of the raw water). to avoid exposing the outflow directly to sunlight. 6. and backwashing and refilling are done twice. this helps to prevent algal growth. The outflow is stored in an outlet structure. while leading the effluent to outlet.6. the outflow of one roughing filter is fed to another roughing filter with finer material for further cleaning. Every two months. The underdrains are covered with a layer of coarse gravel. The filter layers are covered with a 0.2 Main O&M activities The filters should preferably be operated on a continuous basis. all valves should be completely opened and closed. Better results are obtained with two or three filters in series. Figure 6. WATER TREATMENT 83 rated PVC pipe. For backwashing. In some cases. If the turbidity gets too high. and if a steel weir is used this may need to be painted or replaced.6 m/h. Occasionally. the filter may become clogged. which requires several people. which also permits rapid abstraction during cleaning when the flow direction is reversed (backwashing).6. and the different filter layers have to be removed and cleaned. a special drainage valve is installed which can be opened quickly.g. No special assistance from users is required to clean the filters. Use: As a pre-treatment stage prior to slow sand filtering or other purification processes. turbidity and maintenance data are written in a logbook. New caretakers can be trained by experienced technicians. Wolters & Visscher. for a structure designed to be in operation for 24 hours a day (data from Colombia.6 Upflow roughing filter Initial cost: Reported construction costs are US$ 20–40 per m3 of water per day. The inlet and outlet boxes are then cleaned. The filter should be cleaned before the turbidity of the raw water reaches a maximum (e. the valves need to be repaired or replaced. Performance: If raw water with a turbidity below 50 NTU is used as the source for a roughing sand filter. .1 m-deep layer of boulders. Operation consists of regulating the water flow and checking the turbidity of the effluent. Approximately 84–98% of suspended solids are removed. before the rainy season starts). 1989). the outflow has a turbidity below 12 NTU. hydraulic cleaning alone is no longer adequate. In such cases. Flow. 1986. to keep them from becoming stuck. Filtration rate: Approximately 0. The monthly cleaning is performed by the caretaker and takes about half a day.

paintbrush. 6. Weekly — hydraulically clean the filters. Monthly — stir the top layer of the filter.6. — paint the steel parts. spare valve. Supervise the caretaker. Skills required ☺ ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — regulate the water flow. Basic skills. pipe threader.3 Actors and their roles Actors Caretaker. lids. Annually — grease the valves.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 84 6. Rake. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment 6. nuts. pen. bucket. Local or area mechanic or plumber. Grease. Every two years — manually clean and refill the filter. Technical skills. Washers. washbasin. . Raw water. sieves.5 Potential problems — high loads of organic and other suspended material in the raw water clog the filter and reduce the hydraulic cleaning capacity.. Occasionally — repair or replace the valve. wheelbarrow. bolts.6. wrench. — make entries into a logbook. screwdriver. keep a logbook of repairs etc.6. organize manual cleaning. Raw water. Repair or replace valves. etc. hoe. Grease pot. Spade. Spanners. and additional treatment is needed. Water user or paid worker. Anticorrosive paint. clean the filters hydraulically. Every two months — open and close all valves. — roughing filters only remove some of the solids and pathogens in the water. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). Water committee. Assist in manual cleaning. Raw water. Steel brush. organize manual cleaning. Roles Regulate the water flow. cloth. Logbook.

3 Household slow sand filter. and in the sand and on top of the filter bed a population of microorganisms develops that feed on bacteria. dried in the sun. together with new sand. With good O&M. chemical and physical processes when the water slowly passes downwards through a bed of sand. Manufacturers: Slow sand filters can be built by experienced contractors. washed. When the quality of the raw water is poor. WATER TREATMENT 85 6. The filter reservoirs have drains on the bottom covered with gravel and sand. to make up for losses during washing. Area of use: All over the world.7.7 Slow sand filter slowly enters the filter through an inlet. bricks.3 m per hour. see section 6. In Colombia. the sand filter is covered with a water layer of 0. The caretaker of a slow sand filter should keep a logbook with flow rates and O&M activities. and stored. provided the caretakers are trained well. and any leaks in the system must be repaired immediately. all the valves must be opened and closed to keep them from becoming stuck. a slow sand filter produces water virtually free of harmful organisms. the water is chlorinated after filtration to prevent recontamination. it must be operated and maintained properly.2 Main O&M activities For a slow sand filter to be effective. During operation. The flow of water must be maintained at a rate between 0. . The flow rate of the water into the sand filter may then have to be adjusted. Raw water Figure 6. Sometimes.1–0. ferrocement. This provides a stable flow of nutrients and oxygen to the microorganisms in the filter and gives them time to treat the water. filter reservoirs can be made of concrete. etc. For the small-scale application of this method. After several scrapings.7 Slow sand filtration1 6.1 The technology The treatment of water by slow sand filtration combines biological. upflow roughing filter). It takes a caretaker less than one hour a day to check whether the filter is functioning properly and to adjust flow rates. For the filter to work well. Several people can clean a filter unit 1 Visscher et al. the cleaned and dried sand is added back to the filter. For community use. viruses and organic matter in the water. the cost was US$ 105–215 per m2 in 1987. or by communities with external technical assistance. water must flow continuously at a rate of 0. Fine particles are filtered out. (1987).3 m3 m-2 hour-1. Every two months. the population of microorganisms may get too dense and start to clog the filter. Slow sand filters can be operated and even monitored by communities. and an outlet leads the clean water from the drains to the clean-water mains.1–0.3 m/hour. Initial cost: Data from rural India in 1983 indicate an initial cost of US$ 60–130 per m2 of filter area. IRC (1993).0 m.1–0. it is recommended that pretreatment steps be added (e.3–1. After several weeks to a few months. the filter must be drained and the top layer of the sand scraped off.7. 6.g. or the layer of water above the filter will build up and become too high.6. Yield: 0. At least two filters are needed if clean water is to be provided continuously. although cleaning the site and other activities may take more time. If flow rates get too low.

Test kits to monitor water quality are available and they require only basic training to use. spare valve. Occasionally — repair the valve. wrench Steel saw. test media. hoe. With proper external assistance. broom. Water committee. A local caretaker will have to be trained. some chlorine and test materials. wash. water. bucket. ladder.3 Actors and their roles Actors Local caretaker. Water user or paid worker. If the filter is well-designed and constructed. 6. Washers. hardly any repairs of the filter tanks and drainage system will be needed. planks. Spanners. rake. collect fees. monitor water quality. Supervise the caretaker. rope. About every 18 months — re-sand the filter. Broom. planks. Test kit. wrench. sand. although the valves and metal tubing may need occasional attention. — regulate the flow. boots for feet. Highly qualified. and others may need to be trained to test the water quality and to be able to stand in for the caretaker. lead scraping and re-sanding. spade. — replace the metal tubing. dry and store. chisel. pipe threader. Water sample. Technical skills.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 86 in only one day. Logbook. hammer. A slow sand filter for community use requires considerable organization to be able to provide enough people for scraping and resanding the filter units.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Daily — check the inflow. External support. monitor water quality. Roles Regulate flow. bucket. Local plumber. Nipples and accessories. screwdriver. wash basin. water organizations can manage their water treatment independently. Repair valves and piping. organize scraping and re-sanding. rake. About every six weeks — scrape off the sand. bucket. Assist in scraping and re-sanding of filter units. Train the caretaker. trowel. but it is important that hygienic measures are observed every time someone enters the filter unit for maintenance or inspection work. Water. Basic skills. Chlorine. — clean the site. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). ladder. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment . Bucket. very few external inputs are needed. boots for feet.7. Skills required ☺ / ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. — keep a logbook. plumbing sealant or Teflon. Recycled and new sand. Sieve.7. pen. — disinfect the filter outlets. spade. 6. wheelbarrow. Wheelbarrow. Apart from extra sand. cement. disinfectant for tools. hoe. disinfectant for tools. keep site clean. brush. Regularly — analyse the water quality. rope.

— smooth vertical surfaces in the filter can cause short circuits in the water flow and result in poor-quality water. and turbulence guarantees good mixing. enables precise dosage. Sometimes a special electric pump is used for this purpose. a concentrated chlorine solution is added to the water in a reservoir. such as the floating bowl chlorinator. When the reservoir is empty. 6.5 Potential problems — if the flow rates through the filter are too high. — it takes a few days for a filter to “ripen” after re-sanding and in this period the water quality is lower. A special device. WATER TREATMENT 87 6. and dedicated O&M. with both inlets and outlets closed. Electrical devices that convert a solution of kitchen salt to active chlorine can be purchased for on-site chlorine production. the outlets can be opened. — excessive turbidity (>30 NTU) in the raw water can cause the filter to clog rapidly. Flow chlorinators continuously feed small quantities of a weak chlorine solution to a flow of fresh water. For batch chlorination. Small test kits are also available for monitoring and for adjusting chlorine doses to the water quality and quantity.8. — it may take some time for people to believe that a green and slimy filter can produce safe water. . water quality drops. The most frequently used low-cost technology methods are batch chlorination and flow chlorination. Usually.7. — slow sand filters require a substantial initial investment. After that. harmful and bad-tasting products such as ammonia may be formed in the filter. It is normally applied at the last stage of a drinking-water treatment process. — if the water flow is interrupted for more than a few hours. The water is stirred and the chlorine is left to react for at least 30 minutes.8 Floating bowl chlorinator and the reservoir is refilled with a new batch of water to be disinfected. the outlets are closed Figure 6. — when the water quality is very poor.6. The chlorine inactivates pathogens in the water and provides a barrier against recontamination. often at the inlet of a clear-water reservoir. — in some regions. Initial cost: A chlorinator and hoses can cost as little as US$ 15.1 The technology Chlorination is a chemical method for disinfecting water. but there will be addi1 Water Research Centre & WHO Regional Office for Europe (1989). a small reservoir containing the chlorine solution is placed on top of the water reservoir and the solution is administered close to the point where fresh water comes in.8 Chlorination in piped systems1 6. sand is expensive or difficult to get. in which case a pre-filtration step may be needed. beneficial microorganisms in the filter may die and the filter action will become impaired. Chlorine-producing compounds must always be stored and prepared with care.

it must be painted and checked for corrosion every year. Hose. are recorded in a logbook. In some cases. will provide training for caretakers and perform monitoring. Test media. Basic skills. 6.3 Actors and their roles Actors Caretaker. Skills required ☺ ☺ Simple (often requires gender-specific awareness-raising. Latex paint. Occasionally — replace the hoses and chlorinator. and training activities to change behaviour and build capacity). Spoon. If a steel chlorine tank is used. bowl. plug. the water committee appoints a caretaker who is trained for such work. the amount of chlorine added to the water. Provide or sell chlorine compounds. Test kit. 6. Knife. perform small repairs. and for the construction costs of a protective shelter. glass. collect fees. Supervise the caretaker. Usually. External support. An external organization. Regularly — adjust and clean the chlorinator. and an adequate supply of chlorine compound must be kept in stock. paint brush. and the chlorine tank must be refilled with a freshly-prepared solution once or twice a week. Materials and spare parts Tools and equipment . The gloves and utensils will need to be replaced occasionally. small tubes (plastic. for the concentrated chlorine solution.).8. Chlorine compound. water samples. Annually — paint the steel tank. Steel brush. Check residual chlorine in water and adjust doses. Yield: Generally. Chlorinators must be adjusted and cleaned of chlorine salts regularly. together with residual chlorine levels. 350–1400 m3 of treated water per kg of a 70% chlorine compound. and when the hoses become corroded by chlorine they must be replaced. Water. clean and adjust the chlorinator. Measuring cup. etc. bucket. and the shelter for the chlorine tank needs to be maintained. 6. Operators must be careful to avoid contact with chlorine compounds or solutions. Roles Refill the chlorine tank and prepare the chlorine solution. stirring rod. water. Local health worker.LINKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICE WITH OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE 88 tional costs for the tank. Highly qualified. shopkeeper or merchant. Area of use: Wherever drinking-water needs to be disinfected and chlorine is available. and use protective gloves and utensils to prepare the chlorine solutions.8. nail. Water committee.8. train the caretaker. — check and adjust chlorine doses. scale. such as a government health or water department. The chlorine compound itself must be obtained from a merchant or the health department.2 Main O&M activities The flow rate of the raw water must be checked and adjusted if necessary.4 O&M technical requirements Activity and frequency Once or twice a week — refill the chlorine tank. stopwatch.

5 Potential problems — chlorination is less effective in alkaline water (pH above 8. disinfecting drinking-water by chlorination is one of the most effective and least-expensive technologies available and should be encouraged. — on the other hand. — chlorination affects the taste of water and for this reason the water may be rejected by consumers who have not been informed. users may believe a chlorine taste indicates that the water has been disinfected.8.0). — when the water contains excessive organic matter or suspended material. . WATER TREATMENT 89 6. it will need to be pretreated. but water can still taste of chlorine even when not enough has been added to purify it. — the cost and availability of chlorine compounds can be serious limitations. Despite these limitations.6.

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