Safe water is a fundamental human right, and the work that Community Pure Water does plays a critical role in ensuring that rural Indian communities have access to this vital resource. However, in any water purification system, whether it is industrial or residential, there is a considerable amount of water that is wasted as a byproduct of the purification process. Additionally, these purification systems consume significant amounts of electricity as they run for long hours. In such a scenario, it can be quite challenging to offset the carbon footprint of a large-scale purification system, which serves an entire village of 2000 to 3000 people with purified water day in, day out.
Determined to achieve this, we set out to transform our existing water purification center in Ambatipally village to make it more sustainable and climate friendly. We treated this as our pilot project to test the viability of our team’s ideas and make decisions for our other plants based on its success.
Here are the steps we took for this center’s environment-friendly transformation:
- Solar Power: The most radical change we made was to install solar panels above this sunny village’s purification center to power every step of the filtration process, right from pumping in untreated groundwater to the distribution of purified water. This solution proves to be especially beneficial in rural areas, which are prone to power outages and fluctuations. Solar power is a low-maintenance alternative and provides reliable access to clean, renewable energy. It minimises the need for grid electricity, reducing operational costs as well as carbon emissions.
- Rainwater harvesting: By capturing and storing rainwater, we are reducing the reliance and burden on groundwater in this purification center. Rainwater, when properly harvested, can be a valuable source of clean and potable water, and running it through our purification system ensures that the collected water meets stringent quality standards. This eco-friendly solution is not only enhancing water availability but also reducing the environmental impact of water extraction.
- Soaking pits: As another cost-effective and evnvironment-friendly initiative, we dug soaking pits to collect the plant’s wastewater. Soaking pits provide a natural treatment process for wastewater. When wastewater enters the pits, solids settle to the bottom, and the effluent percolates into the soil, where biological processes break down and filter out contaminants. This results in improved water quality. Soaking pits also serve as a means of replenishing groundwater levels. Treated wastewater slowly infiltrates into the soil, helping to recharge local aquifers and maintain the water table. They promote responsible water use and are helping us minimize our environmental footprint. In order to avoid any issues, we regularly inspect and periodically desludge the pits to maintain their effectiveness.
- Advocacy and Community Education: Through our tireless Community Engagement activities, we are constantly educating the rural residents about environmental and sustainable practices using the solar-powered water plant as a shining example. As part of this initiative, we have chosen Safe Water Ambassadors from the local high school, whose responsibility is to spread awareness among their peers and villagers. Our goal is to empower local residents by providing them with skills and knowledge related to solar energy and water management, and take them a few steps closer to sustainable, environmentally-conscious living.
The success of our pilot project in Ambatipally has inspired us to transition 10 other water purification centers to solar power by the end of 2023. And this is just the beginning of our journey towards being a carbon-neutral organization.