The deep end: Practical waterworks

In the rural area of Myanmar, the International NOG Development Enterprises helps rural families to obtain water with treadle pumps. The company has designed the pumps, produces and distributes them, using research from Stanford University. These pumps save time: it only takes half an hour to get enough water to irrigate a small plot, compared with the two hours of work it takes with a hand pump. On the other hand, they are also able to extract water from 7.5 meters below ground easily.

In the Bulacan province, in the Philippines, several local governments, private industries, environmental groups and academics have come together to save the system, providing water, food and livelihood for more than 250,000 inhabitants. The water is contaminated by toxic heavy metals from wastewater, which is dumped by various industries along the banks into the rivers with no control. One of the most pernicious is chromium, which can cause dermatitis and, at high concentrations, even cancer.

The microbes that produce hydrogen sulfide gas have been isolated. This gas precipitates and transforms the chromium into a much less toxic compound, which makes the metal more manageable and reduces the risk of isolation. In the laboratory, microbes in fact reduced the chromium by 99% in four to seven days.

 In the Konya Closed Basin a system has been developed to treat and divert wastewater to irrigate the basin crops. The cleansed water is conducted to the fields in drainage channels, so there is no need for new infrastructure. By reducing water pollution and preserve groundwater, the system solves two problems at once.

In Hydro Fresh Farms in Fort Pierce, the plants are growing in vertical compartments that provide a much higher planting density while using less water than traditional farming methods. A project to install 2,000 of the compartments using the hydroponic method of vertical growth, increased the capacity of the farm by 40,000 plants, while producing an estimated water savings of 39.95 million gallons per year more than conventional methods of irrigation.

Lake Nona, a master plan community in southeast Orlando, is using reclaimed water and irrigation control technology in their water management system to meet both high demand and low water flow. The project was carried out in partnership with the city of Orlando and produces an estimated water savings of 4.15 million gallons per year.

The Lee County School District has replaced old plumbing fixtures with high efficiency fixtures, including toilets, urinals, aerators and faucets at three high schools. The project was carried out in partnership with Florida Power & Light and produces an estimated water savings of 5.9 million gallons per year.

St. Lucie County has replaced old toilets and showers with efficient plumbing fixtures in three developments of the Housing Authority of Fort Pierce. The project produces an estimated water savings of 26 million gallons per year. The project was completed in 2007 with a total cost of $179,465, including $50,000 in funds from the South Florida Water Management District.

Port LaBelle Public Works has installed automatic flushing devices of hydrants that save water controlling the process in a more uniform way than when it is done manually. The project produces an estimated water savings of 8.4 million gallons per year.

The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department has replaced old showers, toilets and aerators with high efficiency plumbing fixtures in 1,000 homes built before 1985. This program is aimed to benefit homeowners who qualify for the Senior Housing Exemption for the elderly. The project produces an estimated water savings of 23.4 million gallons per year.

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CEP Santa Rosa Marist Brothers - Sullana (Peru) and IES Manacor - Mallorca (Spain)
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