Purity of water and water for purification are concepts rooted in Indian culture (NIH, 1993). The perception of quality of water for different purposes is intuitively present in the language and minds of people. And similar are concepts of water used as a purifying agent in daily activities and rites. Along with these, different practices for treatment of water and protection of quality of water are also imbedded. Boiling of water for drinking, using herbs for cleansing of water, protection of drinking water wells from surface pollution are all examples of traditional knowledge and practices of water quality and protection of safe water.
The drinking water situation in the country is seeing major changes today. Whereas the past fifty years witnessed increasing reliance on groundwater for domestic purposes (Planning Commission, 2002). A popular technology that gained popularity in the past 2 decades has been bio filters that can be fitted to the tap. This technology guaranteed with-flow removal of biological contaminants without requiring any storage and at no extra time for treatment.
Variants of this technology are still popular in many areas that suffer only from biological contamination. But when it comes to removing chemical contaminants, the need remained. Specific filters such as de-fluoridation (Activated Alumina, Resin) have been developed, and they are effective in areas where fluoride is the only problem with water contamination. But, removal of other salts was still a question.
The one technology till now that has been able to address all these problems together has been that of Reverse Osmosis (RO). Reverse Osmosis is a process that uses semi-permeable spiral wound membranes to separate and remove Dissolved Solids, Organic, Pyrogens, Submicron colloidal matter and Bacteria from water. Inlet water is delivered under pressure through the membrane, where water permeates the minute pores of the membrane and is delivered as purified water. Impurities in the water are concentrated in the reject stream and flushed to the drain.
Reverse Osmosis is capable of removing 90-98 per cent of the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), 99 per cent of the Organics (Including pyrogens), and 99 per cent of all Bacteria.
COMMUNITY BASED RO PLANTS
For convenience, we define community RO plants as those being managed by a trust, elected body or local committees of these elected bodies or cooperatives. We chose to have a community as a unit. There are various advantages of community based system which are listed as follows:
1. Reverse osmosis filtration can remove up to 95% of dissolved impurities and make water pure. It removes bacteria, organics, pathogens, viruses, and other micro-particles and makes it suitable for drinking and other purposes.
2. Reverse Osmosis process eliminates sodium content from the water. Water softeners remove the harmful minerals with sodium ions. But the TDS remains high because of the excessive dissolved solids in water, which disturbs the taste. Purifiers help to maintain the TDS level and enhance the taste of water.
3. RO purified water is better than the bottled water. On average the bottled water is much expensive but when you’re using RO purifiers at home or office you don’t need to worry about the expenses.
4. RO purified water is better for cooking. If you’re using tap or direct supply water for cooking, it might contain an outrageous amount of chlorine. With RO purified water you’ll notice that your coffee and tea taste better.
5. It provides various health benefits. It maintains the health of hair and skin and keeps the body hydrated, fulfilling the requirements of all the important minerals in our body.
6. RO purifiers remove the excessive content of heavy metals from water and make it suitable for drinking. You’ll also notice that the ice cubes are crystal clear and your water tastes much better as a TDS is maintained.