14.4  Treatment options for water emergencies

The purpose of water treatment in emergency situations is the same as it is in any circumstance, which is to remove all types of contaminants present in the water and to improve the quality to a level safe for human consumption. The difference in emergency situations is that the normal structures and processes are not available.

In acute emergency situations where speed of providing water for people is paramount, the main options for water supply are distribution of safe water to people through the use of water tankers and/or plastic bottles. The other option is to give the water consumers the means of treating water for themselves to render it safe. You learned about the methods that could be used in Study Session 10.

  • Briefly describe the main processes of household water treatment and give examples of the methods that could be used.

  • The main processes are sedimentation or filtration, both of which remove solids, and disinfection to kill pathogens. Some examples of filtration methods are cloth filtration, sand filtration, and ceramic filtration. For disinfection methods you could have said boiling, solar disinfection, and chemical disinfection using products such as Wuha Agar, Bishan Gari, Aquatabs and P&G Purifier of Water.

    If it is not possible to filter the water, and if the water treatment chemicals mentioned above are not available, then the water should be kept in a container to settle any solids and then decanted out. The decanted water should then be boiled.

14.3  Waterborne disease outbreaks caused by emergencies

14.4.1  Water treatment and distribution