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Water treatment options

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pH - a measure of the acidity of the water. Most fresh water sources have a pH of 6-8. The ocean's pH is ~8.3. A pH above 7 is considered preferable because enteric pathogens prefer a pH below 7.

Enteric Pathogen - diseases which attack the digestive system such as Typhoid and Cholera

Sedimentation - passing the water through a very calm, pond like structure so that the solids will settle out.

Coagulation - using chemicals such as allum to accelerate sedimentation.

Turbidity - the cloudiness of the water

Intake Design

One of the most often neglected elements in the water treatment system is the intake. The intake must be diesigned to limit the amount of dirt and debris taken into the system to reduce problems downstream.

  • Intake channels which do not face upstream are preferable.
  • Fast flowing water will carry more dirt and debris, so seek natural sedimentation basins within the stream.
  • When designing the intake, keep in mind that it must be accessed for maintenance.
  • Custom made perforated pipes and drums can help preserve water quality.
  • Placing the intake .5m below the water surface can avoid algae growth.
  • Avoid suctioning sediments from the lake/river bottom.

Suspended Solids Removal

Suspended Solids Removal is typically the most difficult element of the water treatment process. There are 2 primary methods of suspended solids removal, sedimentation and coagulation and flocculation.


The easiest way to remove suspended solids is through sedimentation.If it is possible to let the water sit for a period of time, or pass slowly through a tank, heavier particles can settle out. (See Sedimentation (water treatment)DEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD..) If the water is relatively clear, this step may not be important. Or if the water is turbid (cloudy) but the solids do not settle out easily, this step may be of little use.

Coagulation and Flocculation

Frequently, the suspended solids will not settle out in a reasonable period of time and sedimentation alone will not work. If this is the case, a two step process of coagulation and flocculation is employed.


This is sometimes skipped if the water is very clear. This is important as pathogens and other contaminants are mostly attached to particles in the water.

  • ceramic water filtersDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD.


Disinfetion is the backbone of water treatment and required to inactivate pathogens such as viri and bacteria. Filtration is typically employed so that the disinfection phase is more effective.

  • Boil the water for 10 minutes.
  • Solar water disinfectionDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD.
  • Chlorine or iodine.

Removing arsenic

In cases of arsenic contamination the Sono arsenic filterDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. should be considered. As it contains sand and charcoal, the filter should also be effective against other impurities. Arsenic containing water is typically groundwater and thus should not usually contain significant pathogens. Iron and manganese oxides can offer a cheap method of removing low levels of arsenic from water. The oxides are able to adsorb arsenic ions and remove them from solution.