Water, water all around, but scarcely a drop to drink. One of the biggest predicaments any victim caught in a natural calamity, especially floods, faces is accessing potable drinking water.
True, air-dropped water sachets have been a solution religiously adhered to for many years, but then not all of them reach the marooned, and quite often many are lost beyond their reach.
Coming to their rescue are truck-mounted mobile water treatment plants conceptualised and developed by city-based Smaat Aqua Technologies that also house a reverse osmosis water treatment system to remove contaminants from untreated water.
The system can filter substances like bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, iron, sulphur and other man-made chemical pollutants like cadmium, chromium, arsenic, magnesium, calcium, nitrates, fluoride and chloride.
Its purification technology can treat any type of contaminated water from septic tank discharge, brackish water and groundwater mixed with sewerage and black water to sea ingress, industrial site waste and drainage (silt, sand, alkali, oil, chemical) and bio-degradable and non-biodegradable organic wastes, according to Karunakara M Reddy, managing director, Smaat Aqua.
The company demonstrated the effectiveness of the system at a contaminated pond at Karmanghat on the outskirts. Even as turbid water entered the system through a braided chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipe into the raw water tank, 11 stages later it came out sparkling clear – fit for human consumption. Churning out 2,000 litres of water an hour, the system can package 4,000 half-litre water sachets on the spot.
Powered by a 15 KW diesel generator, the portable treatment plant's ultra filtration unit, reverse osmosis unit, ozone generator and oxygen concentrator (fine polishes the water removing any last traces of bacteria or virus) before the packaging systems do their job.
Seventy per cent of the input water comes out fit for drinking in the process. The residual water 30 per cent could be used for other purposes like cleaning, washing, etc. “This is very effective as it not only desalinates the water but also prevents the spread of post flood epidemics,” Mr. Reddy avers.
Seeing the efficacy of the system, the West Bengal government's Directorate of Public Health Engineering has entered into a contract for 11 mobile water treatment plants. Smaat Aqua (www.smaataqua.com) will maintain each of the units at a cost of Rs.1.17 crore for a three-year period. Floods play havoc with Orissa, West Bengal and Assam every year.