Alternative Water Filtration System for Remote Communities
In attempts to improve the quality of life of the remote communities, both the State and Federal government have through their different agencies implemented various amenities and utilities in these communities. However due to its large land sizes of the State and hostile terrains, these have been extremely difficult and exceedingly expensive.
According to a latest survey carried out by the Ministry of Health, there are in excess of 3000 villages in the State of Sarawak alone without the supply of portable or treated water and/or power supply. In spite of a study carried out almost 20 years ago, identifying some of these problems, little progresses/improvements have been made in this field.
These have, in the main, due to inaccessibility as a result of the hostile terrains and remoteness of these villages, making it difficult to provide both treated water and power. The authorities are aware of the plight of these communities and are seeking ways to assist those affected. At the initial stages, just to provide clean, filtered water where majority of the suspended particles and the organic matters, including colours and odours are being removed.
Different commercial systems available in the market have been tried with varying level of successes. There are two main reasons been identified, first, most of these systems require a high back-pressure to force the water through the filtration packs thus requiring the use of pumps to provide the required pressure. With the lack of available power supply, these systems are unsuitable for those remote communities. Secondly, the maintenance problem, most of these commercial systems are imported and are in general fairly costly, furthermore the availability of the components required needs careful planning and scheduling. Maintenance of these plants have been proven to be problematic, both due to lack of experience/technical support and availability of components. As a result many of these have not been able to provide the clean water as intended.
The proposed system utilises locally fabricated components and using filter materials that can be sourced locally. The design is unique and differs from conventional systems in that the raw water entering the filtration unit is also used as cleansing source for the filters and thus ensuring its effectiveness and at the same time prolonging their effective useful life.
At some stage, these filters would need to be cleaned/changed and system de-sluddged, special considerations have been included in the proposed design to ensure these routine maintenance can be carried out with minimum difficulties and/or interruptions to the supply of clean water.
Training of personnel from the local communities will be conducted to ensure the full awareness of the need to frequently maintain or replace these filter materials and regular desluddging of the filtration unit.