Erica and I were challenged with addressing the issue of safe drinking and cooking water to prevent disease. Water treatment has been tackled in many different ways, by many different groups, but the challenge was in solving it in the context of the campamentos in Santiago, Chile. We found that existing solutions for subsistence conditions weren’t quite appropriate, as residents had access to municipal water. But high end solutions used in developed urban areas also didn’t fit due to a lack of infrastructure and running water. We had to design a water treatment product for people in the middle. People who have infrequent access to water and store it for several days at a time.
We noticed in the campamentos that the containers used to store water were difficult to keep clean and often had wide mouths that increased the risk of contamination. How did the residents treat water that may have been contaminated en route to the mediagua or during storage? Either by boiling or adding chlorine, however these treatment methods are used infrequently, if at all. Boiling takes time and energy. Measuring chlorine accurately is difficult and inconvenient. People often poured chlorine into water without measuring. The taste of treated water is unpleasant. Erica and I sought to solve all of these problems with a series of products.
A simple bucket retrofitted with a small cap for adding chlorine & water and a filter attached to a spout for dispensing water. The idea is that the bucket is easier to clean than a lot of their repurposed water containers and is small enough to store inside, preferably in the kitchen. Adding a small opening to the lid and base of the bucket and attaching a spout are easy and can be done by the individual.
An attachable cap that doubles as a measuring cup or tiny bags of premeasured amounts of chlorine. The idea here is to control the amount of chlorine added to water for increased accuracy in chlorinating water at the point-of-use. We focused on chlorine treatment, because chlorine is already apart of the residents daily cleaning routine, it’s fast, and with the attachable measuring cap that doubles as a lid or premeasured bag, accurate treatment can be easy.
And finally, a filter pack of activated carbon to insert at the base of the water spout. The idea is to remove chlorine byproducts as the chlorinated water passes through the filter and to the spout for drinking or cooking. Removing these byproducts improves the odor and taste, making the water taste good.
All of our ideas use readily available materials and are simple to assemble at home or could be purchased in a preassembled water treatment kit for a low cost.