DOST seeks to promote locally-developed water filter technology

The inconvenient truth about water is out.

In a report five years ago, the Nobel-prize winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that by 2080 nearly half the world’s population will be without clean water.

The New York-based United Nations Development Program (UNDP) echoes the same concern.

“The necessary sense of urgency is lacking,” UNDP said in a recent statement.

“The facts have been staring us in the face for years.

While demand increases, the annual available fresh water supply per inhabitant is regularly decreasing and is expected to fall to an average 4,800 cubic meters by the year 2025 against 7,300 cubic meters in 1995.”

In the Philippines, current statistics show that 20% of the population have no access to potable water and 432 municipalities have less than 50% service coverage.

About 6,000 premature deaths a year are caused by water-borne diseases.

In the 1950s, the Philippines had as much as 9,600 cubic meters of clean water per person, according to Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero, former head of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development.

Four decades later, Filipinos must make do with little more than a third for that volume – 3,300 cubic meters per capita.

Pinoys' water needs

Although the government is trying its best to provide Filipinos potable water, its efforts are outwitted by rapid population growth.

From 1995 to 2005, the government has successfully provided water for an additional 23.04 million people. However, the population increased by 24.5 million over the same period.

Experts claim that with an annual population rate of 2 percent to 2.3 percent, the Philippines would be facing a water shortage by 2025. “The rapid urbanization of the Philippines, with more than 2 million being added to the urban population annually, is having a major impact on water resources,” a report from the Asian Development Bank pointed out.

Maude Barlow, in her book The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for Right to Water, points out that “access to clean water is a human right.”

She exhorted the international community “to see beyond the borders to the moral courage necessary to conserve and share this precious resource, as well as working on a treaty like the one we hope to see regarding the climate crisis that sets goals for conservation, sharing of resources, providing technology necessary to developing countries that helps them with conserving through agriculture, infrastructure, and basic education.”

In response to the urgent need for potable water in most parts of the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is promoting the use of ceramic water filter, which the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) developed.

SEE: DOST rolls out locally-developed water filter technology

“The ceramic-based water filter can remove contaminants in drinking water, making them perfect for home use,” reports Violy Balaoing Conoza, of the S&T Media Service.

So far, three models have already been developed.

The first two pot-type ceramic filters can carry 6.5 and 1.5 liters of water, respectively.

The latest edition, the candle type water filter, has 1.5-liter capacity.

The ceramic filter is lodged in a plastic container with a faucet at the bottom for collection of the filtered water.

“The filter is made from red clay and we added nano (very, very small or minutest) antimicrobial agent that can eliminate water-borne organisms,” explained Josefina Celorico, supervising research specialist and lead researcher.

According to Conoza, all three models can purify tap water, deep well water, and raw water (from ponds and spring).

“Through the filters, safe, potable drinking water is readily available and accessible even in remote areas,” she said.

The ITDI researchers said the filtered water from ceramic filter have passed the Philippine National Standard for drinking water in both tests/counts for coliform and Escherichia coli, the most common form of water-borne disease-causing microorganisms.

The ceramic filters are easy to install and maintain – aside from they are reasonably priced.

Celorico said production cost per piece for the candle type filter is only P80 while the pot-types amount to around P190.
Nationwide rollout

DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo has recently instructed all DOST regional offices and the ITDI to join hands and roll out nationwide the locally-developed water filter technology.

As of the third quarter of 2013, about 10,000 pieces of candle type ceramic water filters have already been produced.

“We sought the cooperation of the local government units, non-government organizations, and pottery owners who are now our partners in implementing this project,” said ITDI Director Nuna Almanzor.

The produced ceramic filters were already forwarded to communities with less access to potable water.

“The project aims to significantly contribute in attaining the Philippine Medium Development Goal of increasing the country’s accessibility rate to potable water of 82.9% in 2007 to 86.6% in 2016,” Conoza said.

“Water is the most precious asset on Earth,” points out Sandra Postel, director of the Massachusetts-based Global Water Policy Project.

“It is the basis of life.”

Next to air, water is the element most necessary for survival.

A normal adult is 60- to 70-percent water. A person can live without food for almost two months, but without water only for a few days.

A household of five needs at least 120 liters per day to meet basic needs – for drinking, food preparation, cooking and cleaning up, washing and personal hygiene, laundry, house cleaning, according to the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental group. — TJD, GMA News

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