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Removal of waterborne bacteria from surface water and groundwater by cost-effective household water treatment systems (HWTS): A sustainable solution for improving water quality in rural communities of Africa

JK Mwabi, BB Mamba, MMB Momba


In this study 5 household water-treatment devices/systems (HWTS) were constructed using inexpensive local materials (sand, gravel, zeolites and clays). They included the silver-impregnated porous pot filter (SIPP), the ceramic candle filter (CCF), the conventional biosand filter (BSF-S), a modified biosand filter with zeolites (BSF-Z), and a bucket filter (BF).
Their ability to remove turbidity and pathogenic bacteria (Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhimurium and Shigella dysenteriae) from synthetic sterile water, groundwater and surface-water sources was evaluated. The flow rates ranged from 0.05 ℓ·h-1 to 2.49 ℓ·h-1 for SIPP; 1 ℓ·h-1 to 4 ℓ·h-1 for CCF; 0.81 ℓ·h-1 to 6.84 ℓ·h-1 for BSF-S; 1.74 ℓ·h-1 to 19.2 ℓ·h-1 for BSF-Z; and from 106.5 ℓ·h-1 to 160.5 ℓ·h-1 for BF. The highest (64% to 98% (0.74 to 1.08 NTU)) and lowest (14% to 76% (2.91 to 7.19 NTU)) average percentage turbidity removals were noted for SIPP and BF, respectively. The SIPP was the only device that consistently removed 100% of all target pathogens throughout the study. Its performance was found to be significantly superior (p<0.05) compared to that of the other four devices. Sixty (60%) to 100% bacterial removals were observed for BSF-S; 90% to 100% for BSF-Z; 90% to 100% for CCF; and 40% to 99.9% for BF. Based on the findings of this study the SIPP can be recommended for use by rural communities as it consistently produced high-quality water that complied with the SANS 241 turbidity and microbiological limits for drinking water.

Keywords: safe drinking water, household water treatment, waterborne pathogens
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