Filtering Bharog’s Water

Post India Trip work with Water Sanitation

As the Berkeley chapter of Project RISHI begins project work in the new academic year, one issue we are particularly focusing on is water sanitation. Based on the preliminary surveys our chapter had conducted in Bharog Baneri two summers ago, we saw that the quantity and quality of water in the village were problems identified by its residents. The Berkeley chapter decided to explore this claim further on the 2014 India trip via two methods: water testing and surveying.

CBT test comes back positive for E. coli

Bharog Baneri is a panchayat comprised of five wards, each with an uncovered water tank. There are hand pumps along the roads between the distantly located wards, and many of these have ceased to function. Because coliform bacteria are a commonly used indicator of water quality, we used the Compartment Bag Test to determine the presence of Escherichia coli in ten locations. Nine of our samples were from hand pumps and tanks of all five wards, and the last sample was a control of mineral bottled water. Six out of the nine samples were proven to be highly contaminated, and data from our water surveys revealing the commonality of gastrointestinal problems reinforced our findings. Our surveys also indicated a problem in access to water–especially in the dry season.

Yellow color indicates that the water is not contaminated

As a response to the water quality problem, Berkeley Project RISHI decided to partner with ESW — Engineering for a Sustainable World. With various local projects being conducted, the club wanted to expand to target a more global platform of development. ESW’s knowledge in engineering combined with RISHI’s experience within the village have inspired discussion of a sustainable response to the water quality issue. So far, various types of filters have been observed and recommended; most are simple to create and function for years on end, as our goal is for the villagers to continue using them after we leave the village.

However, the success of the project is contingent upon the villagers’ response. Because water problems aren’t always as tangible to grasp as an impediment to health, we are planning an education-based portion of the distribution of the filters. This will be conducted through the Big Ideas project contest, which is focused on innovation for social justice. If successful, this could potentially be a large source of funding for the filters. As we decide on the most beneficial and long-term filtration system for the village, a creative method of explaining the use and cleaning of the filters as well as why they are necessary will be imperative to the project’s sustainability.

Authors: Sneha Pang, Karina Oelerich

Originally published at