Everything You Need To Know About A Water Filtration System Before Buying One

Everything You Need To Know About A Water Filtration System Before Buying One

Everyone is looking for new ways to help improve their health. Whether you’re dieting, working out, or simply trying to increase your water intake, it’s requires dedicated effort with some parts easier than others.

When it comes to the water you’re drinking, are you confident that you’re ingesting lead-free, healthy, treated water? Can you count on the water you’re getting from your home?

It’s time to start thinking about how your water is filtered, regardless of whether you’re drinking water at home, out and about, or in any other location. If you live in America, water filtration and clean water probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when you head to the sink to fill up a cup.

You’re not living in a developing country, so your water has to be clean, right? Unfortunately, toxic tap water is a real issue in several different cities throughout the United States, including (but not limited to), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Brady, Texas, and the well-publicized and infamous Flint, Michigan.

We’re going to lay out everything you need to know about the state of your water, water filtration, and the types of water filters that might be available to you, as well as the benefits of water filtration for you home and your family.

What Is a Water Filtering System?

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If you’re unsure about what a water filtering system is to begin with, here are the basic. In its simplest form, a water filter helps decontaminate water by either using a physical barrier, chemical process, or a biological process.

People use water filter systems for a variety of different reasons, and there are dozens of benefits of filtering your own water. For example, people will use water filters to remove chlorine and bacterial contaminants to provide better tasting and better smelling drinking water. They’ll also use them to remove lead from drinking water immediately before they drink it, eliminating the chance of a harmful substance entering their bodies.

Another benefit of water filter systems is that they provide you with clean water without racking up a huge bill from plastic water bottles ( environmentally-speaking, this is a much better option too).

Overall, drinking clean, filtered water can help to protect your body from diseases and lead to greater overall health. Filtered water can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disease by more than 33 percent, help children’s’ developing immune systems grow strong, act as the last line of defense against 2,100 known toxins from drinking water, and greatly reduce the risk of rectal cancer, colon cancer and bladder cancer by removing chlorine and chlorine byproducts.

And water filtration doesn’t only benefit drinking water. In fact, filtered water should be used for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, bathing, and more. Using filtered water means there’s a healthy mineral deposit and a healthy pH in the water you ingest!

Types of Water Filters

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There are several types of water filters that are typically used, each with different mechanics and functions, but all serving the same purpose: cleaning your water supply to provide healthy, safe water. Let’s focus on a few common types.

Activated Carbon

The activated carbon filter is one of the most common household water filters. This type of filter uses activated carbon granules that attract and trap chemical impurities through an absorption process.

Activated carbon granules are based on charcoal and are very porous forms of the carbon that is created by burning wood with a reduced supply of oxygen. Charcoal, somewhat like a cross between lead and a sponge, has an internal surface area that’s riddled with nooks and crannies that can help to boost that absorption process.

The Environmental Working Group does offer one important caveat to remember when using carbon filters:

Keep in mind that carbon filters vary greatly in effectiveness. Some just remove chlorine, and improve taste and odor. Others remove contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. However, activated carbon doesn’t remove common inorganic pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate and perchlorate.

Additionally, this type of filter isn’t ideal for dealing with hardness like limescale heavy metals, nitrates, fluorine, microbes, and sodium.

Here’s a helpful overview of how activated carbon works:

Reverse Osmosis

You remember osmosis from science class, right? It’s when one things absorbs another. Reverse osmosis is the forcing of contaminated water through a membrane at pressure so that the water is able to pass through, but the contaminants in the water are left behind.

Essentially, you’re making the water go against its natural inclination, to force the comaninents out of a water supply. Unfiltered water is pumped in through a plastic membrane, clean water flows through the membrane at pressure, and that semipermeable filter or membrane will catch all the contaminants in said water.

Again, the Environmental Working Group offers a helpful note regarding reverse osmosis:

Also, consumers should be aware that reverse osmosis systems waste a lot of water – they typically use three to 20 times more water than they produce. For this reason, EWG recommends that they be used for drinking and cooking water only.

Ion Exchange

Ion Exchange filters are some of the best filters for softening water. They can take hard water and make it more digestible by removing limescale. In layman’s terms, these filters are designed to split apart atoms of contaminating substances to make ions, then, then traps those ions  and releases less good ions.

These types of filters use zeolite beads that contain sodium ions. These beads, which act as filters, trap the incoming contaminants and replace them with sodium ions. Without that magnesium and calcium, your water is going to taste softer much more pleasant.

Distillation

This is one of the simplest ways to purify water. While this is less of a type of filter and more of a way to filter water on your own without the use of a fancy device, distillation is still one of the best ways to filter or purify water.

Distillation involves boiling the water, but then taking things a step further to ensure purity. First, you boil water to make steam, much as you would boil it to kill the bacteria. Then you capture the steam and cool it back into water in a separate container. Because water boils at a much lower temperature than other contaminants (like toxic heavy metals), these will stay back as the steam separates and boils off, leaving you with clean water.

Conclusion

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Regardless of where you live (home, on the road, or when you’re camping), it’s important to keep your water as clean and filtered as possible. Water filters are becoming more and more important in a world where every day health seems to be diminishing. Remember to change your water filter every 3 to 6 months, or sooner if you notice the water flow slowing down or your water color becoming darker.

You can easily pick up a water filter at your local grocery store or supply shop, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a simple $30 home filter that you put on the end of your sink faucet will significantly help,. Ultimately, it’s important that you’re putting your health first, and keeping you water clean and filtered is a big step in that direction.

Does Water Usage and Conservation Really Matter? Yes. Here’s Why

Does Water Usage and Conservation Really Matter? Yes. Here’s Why

Water is everywhere, right? You use water when you turn on the faucet to wash your hands, to use the restroom, wash your clothes, and of course, you drink it. Water seems like an abundant, never-ending supply, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not true. In fact, is pretty far from the truth. Water is a limited resource, and even though it seems like you’re surrounded by it, only about 1 percent of water on earth is available for human use.

That’s because the rest of the water is either salt water in the oceans, frozen into polar ice caps, or is inaccessible for us to practically use. This should dramatically shift the way you look at the water. Not everyone has the same access to water, which means that you and your community should understand the way water usage affects you, those around you, and even those around the globe.

In this article, we’ll take a look at water usage, help you understand how countries use water, and discuss the details of water conservation.

Water is a precious resource, but it’s difficult to understand that until you get the global picture. That’s what this article is all about.

Let’s Talk About Water Usage

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“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Water, as you’d imagine, plays a huge role in our everyday life. There are the obvious uses for water, of course, some of which we discussed above — drinking water, washing water, bathroom water — but think a bit deeper.

What about how your city uses water? Without water, there’d be no fire-fighting, no municipal parks, no swimming pools, or sewage systems. Now consider all the other uses for water, like:

  • Mining
  • Irrigation
  • Thermoelectric power
  • Industrial uses
  • Aquaculture
  • Livestock

That’s a lot of water being used every day.

Now, consider that the thousands of cities around the world using water in the same way. We’re talking billions of liters per day.

However, all that water isn’t spread around equally. Water usage changes drastically depending on the country, city, or town you’re looking at. For example, let’s first look at the United States as a big picture. In 2010, the United States used about 1,343,821 million liters of water per day or about 397,000 thousand-acre-feet per year.

These are massive numbers and it’s hard to grasp their significance until we compare them to other countries. Hang in there.

Now let’s zero in on now on the average American family. This average family uses about 1136 liters of water per day at home, with about 70 percent of this water being used indoors. About 24 percent of that water is for flushing the toilet, 20 percent is showering, 19 percent is from the faucet, 17 percent is for washing clothing, 12 percent is due to leaks in the pipe systems, and about 8 percent for other, miscellaneous uses.

To put that in perspective, it takes anywhere from 13 – 26 liters of water to flush a toilet. That’s a lot of water.

In fact, the average American uses almost 600 liters of water per day on themselves.

Now let’s step back see how much water other countries use in comparison to the United States.

In Australia, the country with the second-highest water usage rates, the average person uses about 470 liters of water every day. Following that:

  • The average person in Italy uses about 390 liters per day,
  • The average person in Japan uses 375 liters per day
  • The average in Mexico is 360 liters per day
  • The average in Spain is 325 liters per day
  • The average in Norway is 300 liters per day
  • The average in Austria is 230 liters, respectively

Contrast this to developing nations like Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Haiti, and Ethiopia, use about 2 to 15 liters of water per day, per person.

Are you starting to get the picture? Developed countries use an incredible amount of water compared to developing countries. The disparity is staggering.

Water Conservation Matters

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“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.” –  John Thorson

After seeing how much water the United States uses compared to other countries, you probably have a lot of questions, such as:

  • How do we replace that water?
  • How does my water usage affect other countries?
  • What can I do to help?

Let’s break down it down a bit more to give you better grasp on the current water situation, how we replenish our water, and how each person’s actions can determine water usage for those around them.

First, let’s talk about the watershed. A watershed is a precipitation collector. In short, it’s an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet like a bay, a reservoir, or even a stream channel. This water is collected, stored, and then put to use for drinking, mining, industries, irrigation and more.

Watersheds are one of the biggest ways that we replace and replenish our water supplies. Put simply, watersheds are all over the place. Look at the ground below your feet, you’re standing on a watershed designed to collect the falling rain and drain it to a common outlet so that it can be used later.

How does this affect you, those in your area, and those far away? Watersheds are connected. In fact, all land and water are ecologically linked with each other through a  watershed (also called a catchment or drainage basin).

Watersheds don’t have boundaries, they’re not ruled by politics, and they can encompass several national, cultural and economic spans. All this to say, each watershed affects the next and the next and the next. It’s a web of cause and effect, and the actions we take direct the people downstream from us, downstream from them, and so on.

So, how does water conservation work, and can your actions help conserve water for other people who need it? Short answer: Absolutely.

There are dozens of ways you can change the amount of water you’re using every day in order to conserve water for others. For example, test all of your pipes at home for leaks. As you might remember, data suggests that about 12 percent of the average American family’s water supply is depleted by leaks, so get those checked out to keep a better eye on your water supply.

Additionally, monitor your showers. Take shorter showers, don’t leave the faucet running, and consider upgrading your toilets to new models that don’t need up to 26 liters to flush.

Also, watch how often you water your lawn, wash your car, or use the washing machine. Keeping a schedule and restricting your usage can make major changes in your water usage patterns, which in turn, will deeply affect the rest of the world. Everyone can, and should, do their part to conserve water.

How We Use Our Water: Some Final Thoughts

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” – Carl Sagan

Even though water surrounds us, we’re constantly fighting the battle of depleting water sources, over-usage of our water supply, and unequal water distribution due to an area, poverty, and political issues.

It’s important to remember that water and watersheds connect us all. Our actions have a direct impact on the people near us and far from us. The way we treat and use our water can determine the outcome of the way other people and countries treat and use their water, and so and so forth.

Water usage is not always — in fact, is very rarely — equal among countries. Because we’re a web of connected watersheds, water conservation in your own home is extremely important to determining the amount of water that people in towns, cities, states, countries, and continents have.

Monitor your water usage, learn tips and tricks to cut back on the water you use daily, and remember that in some way, we’re all connected by the water around us.

The Ocean Cleanup Project: What It Is and What You Can Do

The Ocean Cleanup Project: What It Is and What You Can Do

You may have seen that the internet has been buzzing about The Ocean Cleanup Project. However, even if you’re familiar with the term, it can take a lot of research to truly understand what the Ocean Cleanup Project really is.

We’ve done that work for you and gathered all the information you need to get up to date on The Ocean Cleanup Project, discuss the garbage issues plaguing our oceans, and decide how you can help with this issue.

If you’re interested in learning about the Ocean Cleanup Project, its origins, what it does, how you can be a part of it, and in gaining a better understanding of the seriousness of the issue of trash in our oceans, read on!

What Is The Ocean Cleanup Project?

The Ocean Cleanup Project

In 2013, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation was established by an 18-year-old dutch inventor named Boyan Slat. According to the foundation’s site, it was begun with the goals of creating ways to clear the Pacific Ocean of Pollution and educating people on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The idea, Slat hypothesized, was to use the ocean’s currents to our advantage, allowing our passive drifting systems to clean up over half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in about 5 years’ time. Slat proposed that it would be nearly impossible to go after the garbage in the ocean with nets and vessels, and more than that, it would be costly and time-consuming.

With this in mind, he devised an Ocean Cleanup Passive System that would be comprised of a floater with a solid screen underneath that would concentrate debris and lead them to a collection system. Then, that system would be slowed to the point that it moved less quickly than the plastic, which would result in the plastic being trapped.

The technology behind the Ocean Cleanup Project is fairly simple, but compelling. With their solid screens underneath floating pipes, debris can be caught both on and under the surface. These systems will be drifting freely about the Pacific Ocean and will help to concentrate plastic towards a central point for collection by vessels, where it can be easily removed.

For a visual representation of how the system will work, watch this short video:

Again, according to the Ocean Cleanup Project’s site, the foundation believes that by deploying a fleet of systems, they can clean up an estimated 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years, and that the concentrated plastic can be retrieved for recycling purposes. Then, the money that’s made from recycling the plastic can be used to help fund the project’s expansion to the other four ocean systems.

The foundation has been working on testing and trials for this project for a great deal of time, launching expeditions over the ocean gyres in the last few years. The first cleanup system deployment is schedule to take place in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in May of 2018.

How Big is the Threat, Really?

To get a better understanding of the Ocean Cleanup Project, it’s important to get a firmer grasp on how big the problem of pollution in the ocean truly is. First, it’s vital to know what the term “garbage patch” refers to.

Seemingly self-explanatory, a garbage patch is a conglomeration of trash, plastic, and pollution that forms into a giant patch and litters our oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the very spot the Ocean Cleanup Project intends to reduce and hopefully eliminate, is also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex.

It’s composed of trash and litter that spans an area from the West Coast of North America all the way to Japan. It’s so large, in fact, that it even has east and west sections.

This issue is an increasingly hazardous one, as most of the trash in the garbage patch is not biodegradable, causing a massive buildup that’s dangerous for not only ocean climate, creatures, and marine life, but for the human race as well. Much of this trash is visible, but a lot of it is made up of microplastics, non-biodegradable bits of plastic that can’t be seen without a microscope. In short, they’re tiny, but they’re terribly dangerous.

But trash isn’t just clogging up the Pacific Ocean, it’s plaguing our oceans and waterways everywhere. For example, Lagos, Nigeria produces about 600,000 metric tons of plastic trash annually, and approximately 100,000 tons of that ends up in the ocean. The result is landfills brimming with plastic garbage and coastlines strewn with trash.

About 5.25 trillion pieces of trash and litter are clogging up our oceans. To put that in perspective, that’s about 14 billion pounds of garbage dumped into our oceans annually, or about 1.5 million pounds of trash dumped in the ocean every hour. Even more disturbing is the about 269 tons of that trash are floating on our oceans’ surfaces. This trash ends up on islands like Henderson Island, a remote island that has millions of pieces of garbage wash ashore every year.

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Those facts alone should be troubling, but when you take into account the harmful effects that trash can have on the oceans’ climate, marinelife, and creatures, it’s more than just troubling. With the entry of trash into our oceans comes the entry of toxins and pollution that poison marine life. Additionally, plastic debris in the ocean is said to kill fish, seabirds, and other marine mammals, impacting at least 267 species worldwide.

More than that, it affects the lives of humans as well. With toxic chemicals entering our oceans via pollution, it’s unsafe for people to consume marine life that’s been impacted by the pollution. In fact, doing so can result in dangerous health problems.

What Can You Do To Help?

So, what’s the next step you can take to help the Ocean Cleanup Project, or just to help clean up our waterways, bodies of water, and expanses of fresh and saltwater? While it may seem unlikely, small efforts by individuals can make go a long way toward decreasing the garbage in our oceans.

When speaking specifically about the Ocean Cleanup Project, there are a few specific ways to help this foundation inch their way toward success.

  • First, you can simply help fund the cleanup. The foundation needs help bridging the gap between their first-system and the full-scale development of the plans they have to clean up the Pacific Garbage Patch. The foundation states that any amount helps to further their mission, so donating is certainly a great way to get involved.
  • Second, you can volunteer your time, skills, and efforts to the cause. According to their site, there are plenty of career, as well as volunteer, opportunities to work with the foundation.

Speaking generally, though, you can help reduce the amount of garbage in the ocean and contribute to solving the trash problem by making small dedicated efforts.

  • Recycle
  • Support bans
  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics
  • Avoid microbeads in cosmetic products
  • Back organizations that work to fight pollution and encourage ocean cleanup

Conclusion

As you can see, the massive amount of garbage conglomerating in the oceans is harmful — not just for the creatures and environments under the water, but also for marine mammals, birds, fish, turtles, and even human beings.

Though there’s an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in our world’s oceans, it’s nearly impossible to determine how much debris is making up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, because the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is too large for scientists to trawl. Even worse, it’s harder to tell because not all of the trash in the area is floating on the surface, and much of it made up of tiny, microplastics you can’t see with the naked eye.

Much of this trash comes from everyday pollution or land-based activities that take place in Asia and North America, but a percentage of it also comes from boaters, cargo ships, and offshore oil rigs.

The Ocean Cleanup Project, and other organizations like it, are doing their part to help rid the world and its oceans of the rubbish that plagues it, but you can help, too. By increasing your recycling habits, reducing your single-use plastic activities, and dedicating yourself to encouraging friends and family to do the same, you too can reduce the impact of garbage that’s clogging up our oceans.

Critical Facts About Waterborne Diseases In The United States and Abroad

Critical Facts About Waterborne Diseases In The United States and Abroad

If you live in a developed country, and I assume many of you are if you’re reading this, waterborne diseases probably aren’t something you typically worry about. But did you know that poor water sanitation and a lack of safe drinking water take a greater human toll than war, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction combined?

Even in America, pumps, pipes and purification facilities could all fail, leaving you susceptible to waterborne diseases.

So what exactly are waterborne diseases? How many people are actually affected by them? How do we keep our water clean and safe? How many people are dying from these diseases, and what can we do to prevent that from happening? We’ll answer all of those questions here.

How Much Drinkable Water Is There?

First things first. Before we can understand why waterborne diseases are so prevalent, we need to have a clear understanding of how much drinkable water is actually available.

While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered in water, only 2.5 percent of it is drinkable. And of that, only 1 percent of it is easily accessible, with the rest trapped in glaciers and snowfields.

Since most of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen at the North and South poles, that leaves the rest of the fresh water in surface water and groundwater. Surface water is found in the Earth’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Groundwater is just surface water that has made its way into the soil.

You might be wondering if we will ever run out of fresh water. Our population is rapidly increasing, and most of our uses for fresh water are increasing right along with it. So, will we always have enough fresh water to go around?  We will.

The Earth is very efficient when it comes to recycling its water.  Every drop of water we use continues through the water cycle. Water on the ground and in lakes and streams is evaporated into the clouds, and then sent falling back down to the ground.  Although we may never run out of fresh water, we still need to do our part to be sure we keep it as clean as we possibly can.

What Are Waterborne Diseases?

A waterborne disease is simply any disease that is contracted by drinking dirty or contaminated water. In under-developed countries the water is typically contaminated by human and animal feces or a general lack of sanitation. In more developed countries, it can be caused by faulty pipes, pumps, or purification facilities. It’s even possible to get a waterborne disease by eating food that was contaminated by dirty water.

Some of the most well known waterborne diseases are polio, malaria, cholera, and diarrhea. All of these diseases are serious health threats and could lead to death.

  • Polio attacks the nervous system and causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
  • When you think of malaria you probably think of mosquitos, but malaria is also a waterborne disease. Malaria is a life threatening illness that causes high fever, chills, vomiting, and even coma.
  • Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that, if left untreated, can be fatal.
  • Diarrhea may seem harmless enough, but believe it or not, in developing countries without access to modern medicine and clean drinking water, it kills about 2.2 million people per year, usually due to severe dehydration.

The most common waterborne disease that affects tourists in under-developed countries is likely travelers diarrhea. Also known as Delhi Belly or Tourist Trot, an estimated 10 million travelers are affected by it each year. The biggest risk factor to developing travelers diarrhea is your destination.

If you’re traveling to an area that has a high occurrence of waterborne diseases, do your due diligence to prepare so that you don’t contract anything while you’re on the road.

The Key Statistics

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 report on the progress of drinking water recently published its 2017 update. The report finds that in 2015, 29% of the global population (2.1 billion people) lacked safely managed drinking water services – meaning water at home, available, and safe.

This widespread inability to get safe drinking water is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Every year there are more than 3.4 million deaths from waterborne diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world.

What’s worse is that most of those deaths are young children, about 4,000 a day. At any given time, close to half of the population in the developing world are suffering from some type of waterborne disease. In 2013 to 2014, waterborne diseases caused 289 cases of illness, 108 hospitalizations, and 17 deaths in the United States.

Keep in mind these are deaths due to the effects of unsafe drinking water, most of which are completely preventable.

Keeping The Water Safe

They say it’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive, so the best thing to do to keep people from getting waterborne diseases is to use clean water. However, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. It’s estimated that 780 million people don’t have access to an improved water source.

As was already mentioned, most people have access to clean water in America. The water supply and sanitation in the United States is one of the cleanest and most regulated in the world. That being said, nothing is perfect, and Americans can still be exposed to unsafe drinking water.

As many as 63 million people, almost a fifth of the country, from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade.

Industrial dumping, farming pollution, and pipe deterioration are the main causes of the contaminated water. In some instances it took nearly two years for the issues causing the contaminated water to be resolved.

The good news is that there are things we can do to keep our water clean and safe.

Recycle

Recycling items, and properly disposing of items that cannot be recycled, keeps them from getting into to our rivers and oceans to contaminate the water. Even disposing of your cigarette butts properly will go a long way toward keeping our water clean.

Minimize Chemicals

The best way to keep chemicals from getting into our water is to simply not use them.  There are plenty of all natural, chemical free products we can use that will cause no environmental impact. From laundry detergent to window cleaner, always go natural.

Participate In Cleanup Efforts

Participate in or organize a cleanup effort. Clean up the beaches and river beds to keep trash from entering the water supply. Organizing a cleanup day with a local school will both keep the water clean and educate children on the importance of a clean water supply.

Reuse Water

Set up a home rainwater capture system to maximize your home water use.  A basic rainwater system channels water from gutters into a collection barrel.  Use this water to water your flowers, wash your car, or use it to make a natural cleaning detergent.

Prevention

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So, how can we prevent waterborne diseases? This may seem an obvious answer, but we need to keep our water clean. Clean water is a prerequisite for reducing the spread of waterborne diseases. People need to be provided safe and sanitary ways to dispose of feces, as well as ways to store their water to keep it from becoming contaminated.  Dirty water has to be disinfected to stop the growth of pathogenic organisms and to protect people’s health.

We can also think outside of the box. For example, the Kohler Clarity system is a simple, inexpensive water filtration system that removes 99% of all bacteria and protozoa in water. It can filter up to 40 liters of water per day, making it ideal for families who are struggling to find adequate clean water.

Other examples of thinking outside the box are River International and Water For Life. These charities work to provide clean water for those in developing countries who have little or no access to water supplies.

That one invention and that one charity can save millions of lives by giving them access to clean water whenever they need it.  We all need to do our part.

Conclusion

Waterborne diseases may not get the funding or attention it should or that other diseases get, but it is a very serious illness that kills millions of people every year.

On a large scale, this is a serious issue faced by billions in developing countries without the access to resources we have in developed countries. On a smaller scale, though, people are still dying in America from drinking contaminated water, even with these resources.

Waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death around the globe, and it’s almost inexcusable. Keeping our water safe and clean to prevent the spread of disease should be a high priority. It’s time to clean the water that has been contaminated and keep our clean water safe.

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Preliminary Report on HSBC Bank Middle East Limited Funded

Waterbag Filtration Project For Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda

Background information

Waterbag Filtration Project

According to a recent multi-country review by the World Health Organization from 54 low- and middle-income countries, 38 percent of health care facilities lack access to even rudimentary levels of water, 19 percent lack sanitation and 35 percent do not have water and soap for hand washing. The situation significantly worsens when looking for a higher standard of WASH coverage. Rural health care facilities are much worse off compared to districts and referral hospitals.

Specifically access to clean water is a challenge in many parts of Rwanda, and children are the ones who suffer most.

To reduce child mortality and to improve child well-being, Operation Give and Grow (OGG) partnered with DayOne Response and HSBC Bank Middle East Limited to provide Waterbags and purification packets that turns undrinkable/dirty water into safe drinking water. OGG prepositioned and deployed 252 DayOne WaterBags into communities for use in WASH initiatives and specifically to provide clean drinking water. This deployment was carried to improve existing practices in WASH as well as be integrated into additional OGG emergency deployments and areas with WASH challenges in the region.

Description of Assessment and Project

A needs assessment was carried out by OGG in specific areas of Rwanda and it became apparent that many disadvantaged families and children’s homes had challenges in getting safe drinking water because most water sources (especially shallow wells) and rivers had contaminated water. In October 2017, OGG entered into a partnership with DayOne Response to participate in a deployment of DayOne WaterBags funded by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited. OGG identified Urukundo and Suburbs of Kigali Rwanda were the areas most in need of WASH interventions.

Map of Rwanda

Rwanda Map shows Kigali in yellow

Equipment – DayOne Waterbag

The DayOne Waterbag, using the Procter & Gamble (P&G) Purifier of Water treatment packets, is an innovation designed to provide safe drinking water immediately following a disaster. The DayOne Waterbag delivers all four elements of a municipal water system: collection, transport, treatment, and protected storage. It is a 10-liter water backpack designed for use with P&G packets that are already distributed worldwide. The DayOne Watebags come with universal pictographic instructions that enable untrained individuals to convert muddy water into safe drinking water. As a backpack, it greatly decreases fatigue in hauling water long distances, and, inside the sealed bag, treated water is protected from recontamination. The DayOne Waterbag is primarily intended to bridge the gap between a disaster and the resurgence of traditional purification methods. It is intended for emergency use, such as after a flood or hurricane event.

Through the HSBC’s sponsorship, DayOne Response provided the 252 DayOne Waterbags to OGG and each product included:

DayOne Waterbag and attached filter, an initial 60 P&G Purifier of Water sachets (to treat a minimum of 600-liters of water), pictograph instructions to support training and packet cutter to open the P&G packets An additional 240 P&G Purifier of Water sachets are being supplied throughout the year to extend of use of the product. This enables families to have access to clean drinking water throughout the entire year via the DayOne Waterbag and sachet resupply.

Photo of the DayOne Waterbag

Program

In October 2017 OGG carried out an orientation and basic training on the use of the DayOne Waterbag as part of the HSBC funding at the “children of God” children’s Home and Urukundo foundation Children’s home the orientation was provided to the Municipal representatives, Officials and community volunteers. The focus of the training was to ensure that the teams could demonstrate the use of the DayOne Waterbags to the wider community in emergencies but more so in areas challenged by lack of clean drinking water. As part of action points from the training, each home prepared a deployment plan for the DayOne Waterbags.

WaterDay Bag

Photo of school children learning

Volunteers were selected from each home to participate in an evaluation for the use of the DayOne Waterbag. The volunteers were expected to provide feedback regarding the usability of the DayOne Waterbags at household level. 252 DayOne Waterbags were distributed to the Children’s homes which accommodated over 1,000 individuals including local families, children and parents/guardians to those children at the homes. The new community volunteers were tasked with using the DayOne Waterbags in their households for day to day purposes.

OGG Approach

Described below is the distribution plan OGG utilized in the WASH program.

  1.  OGG identified four distribution centers all of which are children’s homes, three in Kigali and one in Urukundo namely The Urukundo Foundation.
  2. The deserving families within the locality assembled at the Children’s homes for
    training and distribution.
  3. A record of all beneficiaries was kept for the purpose of follow-up and for
    quarterly distribution of the P&G Sachets as indicated in no.4 below.
  4. The P&G sachets will continue to be distributed quarterly to enable prudent usage by each family or institution.
  5. OGG representatives in Rwanda are managing the quarterly distribution of the P&G
    Sachets on the ground and will continue to provide periodic reports on how the beneficiaries are utilizing the Waterbags.

Main Observations

The two areas where OGG distributed the Waterbags, the Kigali suburbs and the Urukundo foundation had the following feedback.

  1. Within the suburb of Kigali the villagers who attended the demo and were interviewed described the lack of safe drinking water. For many of the villagers the only key source of the drinking water was a highly contaminated river where they drew their demo sample from. Indeed, many of the school children and their parents shared that they had developed stomach problems due to the challenges of the water and some contaminated wells.
  2. OGG personally interviewed one of the educators in a children’s home and they communicated that this Waterbag project was very timely and a God send for them to be able to obtain clean domestic water from the river (which is actually next to the Children’s home) since it is one of the greatest needs at the school. Besides this they have had to put up with taking water from a well within the compound, in which the water is very saline.
  3. When OGG collected the water from the river and conducted the Waterbag purification process those who tasted the water immediately commented that the water was much sweeter and softer. This was a most remarkable transformation before their very eyes. The village coordinator and Educator took time to immediately plan how they could effectively spread the word to many area dwellers who have settled on consuming the water from the river without purifying and filtering it now that they now had an alternative. They felt that the DayOne Waterbag was an eye opener and a true blessing.

    Louisa an Educator in charge of a children’s home which houses over 150 children and also one of the recipients of the Watebags had this to say about the project:

    “Thank you for the Waterbags that you have donated to us and the community. We are sure that your deeds are a good example even to our benefactors. By helping you not only give prosperity but also joy and hope. Your help is a priceless contribution to charity and undoubtedly appreciable support to the disadvantaged and the needy. Thank you for your care, compassion and mercy, and for the contribution you have made to transform our society. God Bless You.”

  4. At Urukundo, the Village coordinator and the children’s home received the DayOne Waterbags with much appreciation and great expectation. The demonstration amazed many of those present as the initial untreated water was highly discolored prior to start of the treatment and the end result was pure, clean and safe drinking water.

Hygiene and Behavior Change

OGG utilized behavior change framework tools to move people from knowledge to practice. These tools helped identify critical barriers and enabling factors to behavior change and helped develop a practical plan to move a priority group toward sustained practice of a desired WASH-related behavior such as repeated use of the DayOne Waterbag. In Rwanda the primary target was children’s homes which educated the children on the importance of hygiene and behavior change. Following the OGG and DayOne Response program the children have become passionate advocates of the need for clean drinking water and a strong influence on their parents too.

Social Inclusion

Under the WASH program, social inclusion empowered people to take advantage of the Waterbags. OGG particularly focused the program on children including those with disability and gender inclusion.

Many of the families affected by challenges of clean drinking water were largely drawn from economically disadvantaged homes or households hence the need for OGG to place special focus on them during the program.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education

OGG program in children’s homes and primary schools included training community resource people from schools and local institutions who spearheaded school sanitation and hygiene programs. This work helped to improve access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in schools and help reduced diarrhea and respiratory diseases among schoolchildren. These students also helped as agents of change to reinforce good hygiene and sanitation behaviors at home. Through key local educators OGG’s program empowered both teachers and students to promote important hygiene behaviors.

Summary

On behalf of the communities of Urukundo and Kigali in Rwanda OGG would like to thank HSBC for supporting to Fund this program.

From the feedback received on the ground in Rwanda after the distribution of the 252 watebags we have only touched far less than 1% of the families that require this intervention in the country. Hence, there is a great need to fund similar projects particularly in Eastern Rwanda and beyond to effectively reach out to deserving families across the country.

At OGG, our target is to reach at least 200,000 people cumulatively within the East African Region. We therefore require a minimum of 50,000 Waterbags and a one year supply of P&G Purifier of Water packets. This will help support at least 50,000 families across the East African Region. Rwanda, Kenya , Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi are among the areas of focus. Through our collaboration with DayOne Response Inc. and through funding support from HSBC we can reach the above target and ultimately make a significant and memorable impact on health and well-being of thousands of children and families.

Photos

Photos of the Waterbag distribution and use in Urukundo and Kigali.

Waterbag Filtration Project

Children wait curiously on the opposite side for the 30 minutes administering and shaking the P&G sachet into the contaminated water.

Opening the P&G Purification of Water Packet.

Emptying the P&G Purification Packet into the Waterbag.

Demonstration of the Waterbag to school children.

The school children were very curious to learn.

WaterDay Bag Filtration

Distribution of the Waterbags

Hanging the Waterbag with the hooks.

The school children were very curious to learn.

Demonstrating how to clean the Waterbag.

The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

The Water Crisis In India: Everything You Need To Know

When contemplating our world’s most precious resources, past conversations often centered around fossil fuels and the consequences once those become scarce.

However, recent times have given us an abundance of alternative energy options and new technologies either in use or on the horizon. These innovations have turned the conversation to a resource that, on a basic level, is readily abundant and covers two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

Water.

More specifically, freshwater.

Though 70% of the earth is covered in water, only 2% of it is fresh. Further complicating the issue is that 1.6% of that freshwater is contained in glaciers and polar ice caps.

Many third world and developing countries struggle with ensuring this basic tenant of our existence is both available and safe. Nowhere is this more apparent than India.

A Major Lack of Resources

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With the planets second largest population at 1.3 billion, and expectant growth to 1.7 billion by 2050, India finds itself unable to serve the vast majority of that populace with safe, clean water.

Supporting 16% of the world’s inhabitants is daunting enough, but it is even more so when recognizing that population is crammed into an area one-third the size of the United States. Then consider that India only possesses 4% of the world’s fresh water and the crisis can be more fully realized.

India may not be the only nation in this predicament, but theirs is at a stage more critical than most. Severe lack of regulation, over privatization, general neglect and rampant government corruption have led to multiple generations thirsting for more than just a few drops of hazard free water.

The situation has grown to the point that regional disputes have risen over access to rivers in the country’s interior. Those disputes take on a global scale in conflicts with Pakistan over the River Indus and River Sutley in the west and north and with China to the east with the River Brahmaputra.

Surface water isn’t the only source reaching a breaking point.

Tracing back several generations, the critical situation in India can be linked to a myriad of causes. In modern times though, the concern has moved from the surface to the ground. And it’s there where India’s freshwater is under the greatest stress.

Causes: Groundwater and A History of Indifference

Over the past 50 years, policies have allowed what amounts to a free-for-all in groundwater development and as the crisis has grown it has been met with continued neglect, mismanagement and overall indifference.

Estimates put India’s groundwater use at roughly one-quarter of the global usage with total usage surpassing that of China and the United States combined. With farmers provided electricity subsidies to help power the groundwater pumping, the water table has seen a drop of up to 4 meters in some parts of the country. This unfettered draining of groundwater sources has accelerated over the past two decades.

With the aggressive pumping, particularly in rural areas, where agriculture provides the livelihood for upwards of 600 million Indians, Mother Nature is often the difference in a good year and a devastating one. Relying on monsoon rains without proper irrigation or water management techniques has been a recipe for disaster.

Mismanagement and corruption often draw the largest headlines, but many of India’s leaders have also been slow or unwilling to adapt to newer technologies or cohesive plans to address the issues.

The response can at best be described as irresponsible. Consider China, a country with roughly 50 million more people, uses a quarter less freshwater.

Growing Demand, Declining Health

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Not only is India the world’s second most populated country, but it has a fast growing middle class that is raising the demands on clean, safe water. Then consider close to half of the country practises open defecation and you have a dichotomy of two very different populations desperately pulling at the same limited resource.

One group wanting to grow and flourish and the other wanting to survive.

A few numbers from the World Bank highlight the plight the country is facing:

  • 163 Million Indians lack access to safe drinking water
  • 210 Million Indians lack access to improved sanitation
  • 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water
  • 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhea each day in India

More than half of the rivers in India are highly polluted with numerous others at levels considered unsafe by modern standards. The waters of the Yamuna, Ganga and Sabarmati flow the dirtiest with a deadly mix of pollutants both hazardous and organic.

Aside from commonplace industrial pollution and waste, India’s rivers are open use across much of the country. From dumping human waste as previously noted to bathing to washing clothes, the human element contributes to the epidemic of health related concerns.

Adding to the human toll is the reliance on seasonal rains, which are often sporadic in some years and over abundant in others. Rain totals can vary greatly and do not always arrive in the places they are needed most. The drought and flooding that results from this inconsistent cycle often leads to crop failures and farmer suicides.

Much of the above affects rural citizens where poverty is rampant, but even more developed urban areas face their own challenges.

Even with a robustly growing middle class, when combining rural and urban populations, over half of India still lives at or below the poverty level. Furthermore, no city in India can provide clean, consumable tap water full-time.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the scarcity of water will have a negative impact on the industrial health of the country.

Recent drops in manufacturing jobs can be tied to companies being unable to access clean water. Along with the inability to properly cultivate agriculture areas and the water crisis quickly becomes an economic one.

Look to the Future

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It may seem a foregone conclusion that the water will soon enough dry up and along with it India as a whole. That need not be the case.

There are even bright spots in the current environment. The Rivers Narmada and Chamabal run clean with water fit for consumption. Several projects are currently underway that aim to move water to areas that need it the most.

But it will take a long-term commitment of the Indian government not previously shown and the heavy assistance of outside resources.

Common sense practices and training will also aid in reducing the damage done to groundwater sources. Teaching farmers updated irrigation techniques, such as drip irrigation, and utilizing more rainwater harvesting are small, effective steps in stemming the loss of freshwater sources.

Much of India will also need modern sanitation policies that both conserve and wisely utilize water sources. Recognizing physical and economic growth directly ties to the amount of safe, usable water is another step in right direction.

Conclusion

Yes, all of these changes take the long view, but a crisis of this magnitude will not be solved with lip service and short sided solutions.

However daunting, the goals are not unattainable. India is still a developing society, and there is time to reverse the crisis that has been decades in the making.

Given the right commitment and dedication, India can soon enough have safe, clean water.