Monday, January 3, 2011

Cornell University engineers bring clean water to thousands of Hondurans

By Amanda Wheat
What began as a research project by a group of Cornell engineers now provides potable drinking water to thousands of people in Honduras. (Photocredit: Amanda Wheat)
2 January 2, 2011 [MediaGlobal] In 1804, Robert Thom perfected the first water treatment facility in Scotland using slow sand filtration. 200 years later, a simplified version of this process, designed to be both sustainable and affordable, is making its way to the developing world. In 2005, AguaClara, a student-based research team within the Cornell Environmental Engineering Program, partnered with Honduran non-profit Agua Para el Pueblo (AAP), and made clean water a reality in Honduras.
Developing countries have long struggled with water sanitation issues. Throughout the world one in eight people lacks access to safe drinking supplies and more than 3.5 million people die each year due to water-born pathogens. Honduras is no exception. While water treatment facilities did exist before AguaClara, they were scattered, inefficient, and required multiple electrical transformers, foreign labor, imported parts, and exorbitant monthly dues that were unaffordable for most Honduras.
Daniel Smith, Project Coordinator for AguaClara, told MediaGlobal, “You can see those original treatment plants now, scattered throughout Central America. Foreign entities convinced the Honduran government that since these types of facilities worked in other countries they would work in Honduras. Most of them sit like ghost towns now, they just weren’t sustainable.”

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