10 months ago


Water treatment

community based

community based organisations and local institutions in small municipalities have been learning how to deal with their WS&S systems without having continuous and opportune support from well prepared and stable water related institutions. The national regulating agency has given priority to medium and large water companies, with rather little attention to the small WS&S systems. In this changing and learning environment the author, as Director of the Cinara institute of Universidad del Valle, participated in the gradual development and implementation of full-scale MSF technology in Colombia. 4.2 Antecedents to Full-scale MSF Plants Monitored during the Present Study During the last two decades, several international agencies had collaborative research and development (R&D) programmes with Andean countries to contribute to improve drinking water quality in the region. Some of these agencies supported activities in Colombia, including CEPIS/PAHO, based in Peru; IRC, based in The Netherlands; IRCWD/EAWAG (later SANDEC/EAWAG) based in Switzerland; and University of Surrey, based in UK. The author and his colleagues at Cinara, with the support of the national government and these programmes, worked together with local water institutions and community based organisations to develop and introduce MSF technology in Colombia. In 1978, Colombia, through its National Health Institute (INS), entered into the second phase of an international research and demonstration project on slow sand filtration (SSF) lead by IRC, International Water Supply and Sanitation Centre based in The Netherlands. Two demonstration systems were built in Colombia under the umbrella of this project, Puerto Asis and Alto de los Idolos (Visscher and Galvis, 1987). Invited by the leaders of this project, the author participated in technical visits to existing SSF plants in Colombia (photo 4.1). Photo 4.1 Failing SSF water treatment plant in Boyacá, Colombia, because of design deficiencies and technology transfer limitations to the local level. 135

The SSF plants built in Colombia up to the beginning of the 1980s consisted basically of a small settling tank working in series with outlet controlled SSF units. Most of these plants had similar problems to those previously reported in other Latin American countries (Hespanol; 1969; Canepa, 1982; Loyd et al, 1988; Pardón, 1989). These problems were related to the water quality limitations of SSF technology, mainly turbidity levels, as well as design and construction deficiencies, lack of training activities at operational, technical, and professional levels, and absence of appropriate support to local organisations running the systems. Having identified these problems, it has been a gradual learning process for the author and his co-workers to identify, adapt or develop innovations to improve design and transfer methodologies of MSF technology in the Andean context of Colombia. During the first half of 1980s two SSF plants were designed and built in the hilly areas around Cali. The first design experience was Chorro de Plata (photo 2.1, included in Section 2.8.3), a treatment plant for a suburban neighbourhood of Cali, which pays tariffs that cover both capital and running costs of the system. The second was La Sirena (photos 4.3 and 4.4), a treatment plant for a low-income settlement, which pays a tariff to cover running costs and minor improvements to the system. Both experiences consisted of DyGF units working in series with SSF units. Chorro de Plata, processing low mean turbidity levels (20 NTU during several consecutive days. It took around ten years before the community-based organisation of La Sirena, with some support from Cinara, obtained financial resources to optimise the system. Now La Sirena is a MSF plant, consisting of DyGF (dynamic gravel filtration), UGFL (upflow gravel filtration in layers), and SSF, as illustrated in photo 4.5. During the period 1982 to 1985, the author became involved, as short-term consultant with PAHO/WHO, in a Latin American programme orientated to improving drinking water quality in the region by training technical and professional staff. As part of the activities of this programme, the author learned about the Brazilian (Hespanhol, 1969) and Peruvian (Canepa, 1982) experiences with SSF; Argentinean (Arboleda, 1972) experiences with dynamic SSF, and the experimental set up with gravel filters in Peru (Perez et al, 1985; Pardon, 1989) funded by the British government. By the year 1985, the Cinara institute became formally involved in an international project aiming to improve the application of SSF technology in Colombia (Visscher and Galvis, 1987; Galvis et al, 1989), including exploratory research activities on vertical flow CGF (coarse gravel filtration) alternatives. Three experimental systems with bench scale pilot units were built, similar to the one installed in Puerto Mallarino (figure 3.3, Section 3.1.2). One was installed in El Retiro, in the south-west part of Cali; and two in representative settlements of coffee growers communities (photo 4.2) located in the northern part of Cauca Valley Department. These places were selected taking into consideration the reasons presented in the following two paragraphs. By the 1980s and part of the 1990s, The Cauca Valley branch of CGO (Coffee Growers Organisation), based on agreements with the Public Health Secretariat of the Cauca Valley department, was involved in constructing and supporting activities in around 400 small WS 136

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