On managing drinking water

THE FOCUS of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) in 2003, the International Year of Drinking Water, would be on imparting improved techniques on water safety to householders.

Housewives, the scientists of the centre point out, can be trained to become excellent personnel managers as far as drinking water is concerned. After all, so many simple things are overlooked in most houses, such as using the optimum amount of water for cooking, getting leaking taps repaired in time and avoiding wastage of water in general.

At a time when hi-tech filters have become popular among the economically well off sections, experts point out that simple techniques of purifying water are lost sight of, such as keeping it aside for a time to allow suspended impurities if any to sediment at the bottom.

Again, there is the time-tested and cost-effective technique of passing water through layers of charcoal, river sand and pebbles to make it potable. Few know that drumstick and gooseberry also help in purifying drinking water. Gooseberry powder and seeds of drumstick when mixed in water, promote sedimentation of impurities.

Protection of wells in houses is another aspect to be taken care of. Parapet walls at a height of at least 75 cms and a concrete platform around the well at a width of one meter help to protect wells from contamination. Parapet walls help prevent the flow of rain water into the well.

Wells should only be covered by nets so that adequate sunlight falls in. Similarly, providing a layer of river sand at the bottom of the well or depositing small bundles of charcoal in the well are beneficial.

If iron content is high in well water, it can be treated with bleaching powder, we are told. Then, of course, stress is laid on avoiding the construction of septic tanks, compost pits and drains near the wells in houses. These should be built at a distance of at least 10 meters from the well.

By Hari Sundar G.

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