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Water purifiation for flood victims Answered

Hi, I am a flood relief volunteer based in India. During flood, many children get seriously sick due to consumption of contaminated water. The flood water is contaminated with suspended particles,rotting organic matter& pathogens( specially E-coli) . These people do not have access to electricity,sanitation & medical relief.
I am working on small, cheap & effective water filters that can be made/assembled at the site. If someone can suggest methods to make effective turbid water filters using commonly available materials, or send me the links which can help make these filters, it will be a big big help.

Chandan Singh,
GreenPower India.
Images of last yr floods 1
Images of last yr floods 2 Images of last yr floods 2



9 years ago

You can buy Water Straws - they r very cheap and are a sort of plastic tube filled with iodine particles, countering chemicals, and fine mesh. In essence, it means that you stick one end in dirty water, and clean water comes out the other.

There are 1-2 instructables on this site about a wood powered stove made from an old tin can. Basically: Remove top of can, keep bottom on. Poke 10-12 1/2 inch holes in the side near the top and bottom of the can. Add wood and start a fire. Use another can on top to boil the water for 10 minutes. Simple, low tech, and cheap. The problem would be finding dry wood after a flood.

Hi Chuck, Tnx for the linc.Unfortunately, we have a massive flood on our hands..more than 2 million ppl are trapped in this deluge for more than 18 days now.The river kosi from Nepal breached 20 km of embankment and has changed cource moving 60 KM's away. Everything inside is trapped by 10-15 feet high water flowing at very high current. We are doing all we can..but the magnitude is enormous. Tnx anyways, will try thm out once things settle a bit Chandan www.biharfloods2008.blogspot.com

Chandan, If you can give me some insight into your water demands, I'll try and help you out with one of the easiest to build low cost filter, here is a few questions How many liters per day / per filter do you require? (( keep in mind are you building say one per family are are you looking at a small camp sized filter ?? )) Do you have access to plastic buckets, 5 gallon plastic pails or larger ? Do you have access to basic hand tools, like a drill, screwdriver, hammer? Do you have access to any chemical means of sterilization like chlorine / bleach / iodine ? Do you have access to clay, even clay dug out of the ground will work in this application ? Do you have access to sand and gravel ? Pm me your Email address and I'll send you a basic filter design I have used it in Africa and it takes nothing special to build it, and most where free to build...... ((( Oh and this is for Randolf ??? I wonder if any one uses instrucables to look up water purification ?? I wonder if they might get sick or die when they are mislead and not told about the effects of mixing toxic chemicals with water ?? You know where I'm going with this ... look at his photos they are children.. young kids ... That should give you some thing to think about, is it really complete ?? )))

The answers:
1.We need to get about 5 liters of water/day/per family
2.We have access to small plastic pails( 5 liter), plastic bottles of 1,2 & 3 liter ( used cola or soda ) bottles, earthen water pots(baked clay ) of 5-8 liter capacity
4.We have Chlorine water purification 25mg tablets slated to treat 20 liters, these are highly hygroscopic n has to be used immediately after taking thm out of packets( 1 packet has 1000 tabs)

These water filters are to be used by marooned families, mainly women & children.For them,only water source is flood water, which is murky, have high silt content, & with each passing day get more contaminated with organic impurities and raw sewerage.
Even if we stock them with ORS and medicines, they get water borne infections because of lack of potable water

Thanks Big Bwana
Every single effort takes us closer to the solution.

Dear friends,
I want to thank each of you for having helped me rig up a potable water filter. Truly, your patience,help & understanding shown towards the problem has been execptional & exemplary
I wish to specially thank Big Bawana who has been guiding me and helping me overcome problems I faced in the field.
I have used water filer along with chlorination and solar pasteurization to try to get maximum degree of purification.

A lot of filters were installed after demostration to flood victims.I will try to send pictures of these after the flood subsides.

Unfortunately, there has been a serious breach on embankment bordering India and Nepal near Forbesganj, and there has been heavy loss of human life, perhaps in thousands.

All the water that was contained by embankment is flowing in at an unprecedented rate. ..Everything that was in the way is totally washed away. The poor souls who were residing in that area dint stand a chance. Most of them are dead

Satellite images from NASA show that the “Kosi’ river has in fact changed course and is now flowing into highly populated areas. There is no way this can be stopped.

I’ll be leaving for Forbesgan shortly, and am not sure whether or when I will return, hence before leaving; I wanted to thank you all for all the help you provided.

God bless you all.
Chandan Singh
Greenpower India.

ps -

These are some links of last year and the current flood situation.

Flood @ Forbesgunj 2008




Flood 2007


9 years ago

It probably doesn't qualify as cheap, but is there any chance that Dean Kamen's new (or near-future) [http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/03/colbert-and-kam.html} Project Slingshot] will be a viable option? Or is it unsuitable due to size / transportation issues? Not to mention that it's not yet available...

I sincerely hope that many of these will make their way into the world via donations (and offset the projected $2000 price tag.)

Hi gmoon, Project slingshot is almost the perfect water purifier, except that its too costly.Yes, lets hope that they are made available through donation /funding. Last year, GE did try to install high capacity solar powered reverse osmosis water filters in select flood prone locations worldwide . Thanks for the link..some really good suggestions there.

With a total lack of electricity, sanitation, and medical relief, This instructable instructable seems to be basic enough to fit the bill. Solar distillation at its simplest. Of course the fancy mixing bowl and saran wrap are not readily available, but there are items that can be easily used in lieu of that.

The main concept is, put the contaminated water in a sealed container in the sun. Put a collector inside the container that the evaporating water condenses into. Simple, simple.

Now... Does that separate the harmful germs from the water? Anyone know for sure? I would think so, but I haven't researched it a ton.

Distillation does separate the germs, & we use this method to make emergency ORS (oral rehydration solution). The problem with distillation is that its very slow & not practical for large scale relief. Thanks for the instructable V-man

In the treatment center do you have power there ?? AC ir DC and about 15 to 20 watts available ?? (( I don't know where you are exactly and if your on the power grid or solar or generator ?? ))

In an emergancy you can use regular bleach to sanitize drinking water.

Sorry it won't kill Cryptosporidium, but once you filter it, bleach is a great idea to kill off what ever remains....

"Activated" charcoal probably fits the bill. "Normal" charcoal probably does, too. I'm not sure if it would actually eliminate E.Coli, so I'd boil it anyway.

Thanks Rishnai ..charcoal is used to reduce odor & improve taste of water, but as u pointed out, boiling or pasteurization is the key. Problem is, its really difficult to light a fire as everything around is inundated with water. No fuel n no place to light a fire. Thanks again.

Point taken. This sounds like a job for... Pyroman! Perhaps make a "parabolic" (even an imperfect shape)reflector out of mettalic detrius? Point that at a bottle of water, and it would speed up Kiteman's UV sterilization approach. Point the reflector at "one-hour fuels"-- things with a high surface area like pine needles (or the local equivalent?), grass and small twigs, which are all said to get dry enough to burn within one hour of a heavy rainfall. Spend a couple hours with a reflector pointed at them and you'll have the fixin's for a fire, even in a flood.

Filtering with easily-available materials (sand, fabrics) won't remove the bacteria and virus that cause the diseases.

Try looking into solar UV sterilisation - it just needs plastic bottles and sunlight.

However, that won't remove dissolved contaminants like salt.

If you have the materials and time, the best solution would be a still of some variety, probably solar.

I'm going out now, but if you want some design ideas, let me know.

Solar UV sterilisation is a good option. Salinity is not so high as flood water comes from Himalayan rivers. This is very helpful Kiteman, really appreciate your inputs. If possible, do share some more design ideas. Thanks :)