Clean water is taken for granted more often then not in Canada. We are blessed to have enough water to drink, wash, clean, and of course keep our landscapes looking green and lush. Team Nicaragua and Rockscape Design aim to make clean water available to those who see it as a luxury.
Biosand Filters are an extremely effective way to create clean drinking water. They are affordable, when you consider a donation of $350 will supply one filter to a family and it will produce clean water for 20 years. They are reasonably portable and easy to install. And they do not require the use of electricity.
Biosand filters are not a new concept, but adapted from a traditional sand water filter that have been used for 0ver 200 years. The biosand filter is smaller (about 1 m tall, 0.3 m wide on each side) and adapted so that it does not flow continuously, making it suitable for use in people’s homes. The filter container can be made of concrete or plastic. It is filled with layers of specially selected and prepared sand and gravel. The sand removes pathogens and suspended solids from contaminated drinking water. A biological community of bacteria and other micro-organisms grows in the top 2 cm of sand. This is called the biolayer. The micro-organisms in the biolayer eat many of the pathogens in the water, improving the water treatment.
The filter containers that are built from the money we raise our made of concrete, they are made by local Biosand technician, Pete Moreira and a team of Nicaraguans that he hires to work alongside him. The containers take approximately 15 mans hours to build over the course of a couple weeks as the concrete must set and go through a curing process. It’s so important that we get the funds early (our trip is from Feb 14-24, 2014).
To create a sense of ownership and feeling of accomplishment, a few strong members of each family, carry their filter to their home from town. After that, members of Nicaragua Team which include many from Rockscape Design, assemble the filter. Including the sands, and gravel.
How Does the Biosand Filter Work?
You can use any kind of water in the biosand filter – well water, borehole water, pond or river water, tap-stand water, or rainwater. This makes it very convenient for people because they can use whichever water source is closest to home, make it safe to drink. The water must not have been chlorinated though, or the chlorine will kill the biolayer. The water should also not contain any dangerous chemicals, because the biosand filter cannot remove most chemicals from water.
Contaminated water is poured into the top of the biosand filter at least once per day (but not continuously). The water poured into the top of the filter slowly drips through the holes in the diffuser, and flows down through the sand and gravel. Treated water flows out of the outlet tube. No power is required – the filter works by gravity. It should take about 1 hour to get 12-18 litres of filtered drinking water.
Pathogens and suspended solids are removed through biological and physical processes that take place in the sand. These processes include: mechanical trapping, predation, adsorption, and natural death.
We are trying to raise the funds to provide all 50 families in El Ocotal, Nicaragua with a Biosand Filter. Along with the filters a medical team is sent into the village to remove existing viruses and parasites, within three months we have a healthy, thriving village.
We are still along way from our goal of 50 filters for the town of El Ocotal, we’d ideally like to raise the money by the beginning of November. We’re aiming high, but we really hope we can do it. If you can, help us fill our cup!
For more information on how to help please see Water Wednesday: Project Nicaragua or feel free to Contact Us.
Information on Biosand Filters can be found at www.cawst.org