Community water treatment
Increasing access to safe water at the community level
In industrialized countries, large-scale water systems with established infrastructure deliver safe water directly into homes. In developing nations, by contrast, water often comes from unsafe and inconvenient sources.
More than 880 million people worldwide get their drinking water from unimproved sources including lakes, rivers, dams, springs, and unprotected dug wells. Those who have access to safe sources often find their water recontaminated during transport, storage, and handling.
With support from the Laird Norton Family Foundation, PATH began investigating ways to increase access to safe water at the community level. Community water treatment systems are an effective and efficient way to:
- Provide safe water to the very poor at an affordable price.
- Take the burden of water treatment off the individual.
- Allow communities to take ownership of their drinking water, ensuring its safety.
- Potentially create income opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
Treating water at the community level permits the use of high-performance technologies that may be too expensive or too complex for household purchase and operation but that can effectively treat larger quantities of water at a low cost per liter. Community water solutions may also stimulate social support to improve household water storage and handling behaviors, while also enhancing water quality and safety for the entire community. Lastly, community water treatment systems enable commercial water vendors, who are an increasingly important source of water in the developing world, to bring their customers safe, treated water.
PATH’s work in community water treatment
Effectiveness against waterborne disease is a prerequisite for any water treatment technology, and one of the most effective and low-cost methods to make water safe is chemical disinfection with chlorine. With this in mind, PATH identified electrochlorination as a promising core technology for community water treatment.