Valencian Scientists Turn on the Tap Water

‘Aquapot’ is the name of a project that is the brainchild of Valencia Polytechnic Professor José Miguel Arnal; a project whose purpose is to provide safe drinking water for people in emerging countries.

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Already three such projects have been set up in Ecuador and one in Mozambique, where it is hoped that infant mortality and illness will decrease dramatically.

The orignality of Aquapot is that it involves relatively cheap, portable technology that is monitored by José Miguel and his collaborator Beatriz Garcia at the University and from their research centre set up with the collaboration of José Miguel’s home-town Town Hall of Naquera.

Ten years of hard work have gone into creating ultra-filtration as an alternative membrane technology to obtain safe drinking water from surface water:

The reasons are obvious; access to a sufficient quantity of water of adequate quality for human consumption is a global problem. Nowadays, among the 1 billion people estimated to lack access to improved water sources and sanitation worldwide, rural populations are disproportionately underserved.

Membrane technology, and specifically ‘Ultra-filtration’, (UF) represents an effective alternative for obtaining safe drinking water, due to its ability to remove microbiological contamination from surface water.

The people of Giron, Pucara and Santa Isabel (Ecuador) and Ressano Garcia (Mozambique) now know what it means to turn on a tap and drink without fear, thanks to Aquapot. Before that, the water being drunk by these people was a main cause of diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, polio, trachoma and tapeworms.

Every year inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene contribute to the deaths of 1.5 million children. Furthermore, 30 % of infant mortality has its origin in preventable water-related diseases and over 90 % of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases in the developing world today, occur in children under five years old.

1000 million people world wide live without access to drinking water and nearly 50%

of them, suffer from health problems.

Technology is part of the answer, but education of water-culture and training of technicians is of equal importance. For this reason Aquapot is collaborating with the Valencian government to train water technicians both in Valencia and in Mozambique, and, when they travel to emerging countries, they always take with them a series of games and activities for children to make them aware of the importance of correct drinking and sanitary habits.

“Giron agro-food cooperative” with 250 stakeholders achieved sanitary permission to produce dairy products thanks to the drinking water system installed.

As the Aquapot project has a humanitarian aim, capital costs are completely defrayed by public or private financing (governmental grants, public and private donations and local support) under humanitarian assistance projects. Operating costs are the main responsibility of the local partner (normally non-governmental organisations) who assumes the working of the facilities after a training programme.

The system installed in the Primary School of Ressano Garcia (Mozambique). Aquapot directly benefited 1,000 Children and indirectly 10,000 other people living in the area.

The cost of installing this technology varies from 6-12 thousand euros, apart from maintenance and security costs, making it a viable option, particularly with the help of NGOs, government agencies and private industry. With a system the size of an average desk, 1-2 thousand litres of clean, drinking water can be produced per hour with only a slight energy cost.

Aquapot are also working on a project to develop natural coagulants, readily available in many emerging countries, which could be adapted to help remove dangerous metals from water resources.

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