It is an obvious fact: there is no life without water. Water is a major part of all our daily life, drinking a glass of water, taking a shower, cooking, washing clothes – you name it. Water is a necessity! Unfortunately, our main water sources have been affected with contamination that not only degrades our rivers and oceans but also affects our groundwater. The water on Roatan is no exception. Why does this happen? Runoff from construction sites, inadequate sewage treatment in many communities, livestock feeding areas, garbage areas; all of these cause the healthy groundwater to be contaminated by human or animal waste. The presence of fecal matter (coliforms or streptococcus) in the water can cause many problems such as diarrhea, nausea, headaches as well as skin and eye problems. In addition to these organic contaminants other minerals present in our water that affect its quality are iron, manganese, chlorides (salts) and hydrogen sulfide.
Before we talk about cleaning our water the first step is to analyze our water chemically and microbiologically to confirm the water’s quality. This will have a cost but it would give you a description of what affects your water and guide you on how to treat it. Water treatment is the process of removing undesirable chemicals (nitrates and salts), biological materials (parasites, bacteria, algae, viruses and fungi), suspended solids (sand and clay), and gases that can be harmful.
Some of the most common methods for treating water include filtration and disinfection. Filtration is used to remove particles from the water as the water passes through a filter. Sediment filters are used to remove sand, clay and impurities from the water. Carbon filters are used to reduce chemical quantities, poor taste, odors (chlorine smell) and other pollutants. Reverse osmosis is highly effective in removing several impurities from water such as dissolved solids, turbidity, chlorine and salts as well as many dissolved organics and even bacteria.
Disinfection is the process of killing germs, virus or bacteria in the water that can cause diseases. Chlorine disinfection is very effective at killing the bacteria that it contacts. The disadvantage is the smell when used too much. Ozone disinfection prevents regrowth of bacteria in water that is being stored in large quantities. Ultraviolet disinfection sterilizes microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses that may be present in the water.
Because each of the filtering and disinfection processes has a specific function, a series of technologies are often used to provide the desired end result which is purified water. Systems can be as small as a faucet-mounted model, which filters water from one source only, or whole-house systems that filter the entire water supply of your home. ACME Environmental Solutions, the leader in purification systems on Roatan, has been successfully installing integrated water purification systems that deliver 100% pure drinking water. Considering all the various elements that could be affecting your water, the best option is to analyze your water and know what are the eminent problems and then have ACME engineers design and install a treatment system that meets your exact needs.
Water is life! We have heard this all of our lives. But what is the current worldwide water situation? How can we be better managers of this vital resource in our day-to-day lives? This two part article shares water facts (some of the facts are scary) and how we can better manage our water. Let’s get started!
The world contains an estimated 1,400 million cubic km of water. Only 0.003% of this amount is “fresh water”– water that can be used for drinking, hygiene, and agriculture. Almost 70 percent of the Earth’s fresh water is used for agricultural purposes. One fifth of the world’s population, approximately 1.2 billion people, lives in areas of physical water scarcity.
Traditionally, Caribbean islands consume water quite differently than Latin American countries, as the islands rely greatly on the hospitality/tourism industry. The tourism sector has more hotels, excursion parks and other businesses that rely on water. We have seen this here on Roatán. The pressure on the water supply has grown immensely on Roatán in the last 15 years with a doubling of the population and increased tourist visits.
Most of the water on Roatán comes from groundwater wells. Over-use of the groundwater can cause major problems to human users and to the environment. The most evident problem is a lowering of the water table beyond the reach of existing wells. Wells must consequently be deepened to reach the groundwater. A lowered water table may, in turn, cause other problems such as saltwater intrusion, fouling the fresh water wells.
Another unfortunate factor affecting the management of water on Roatán is a lack of understanding regarding fresh water availability by both the public and private sectors. Water has been undervalued for many years in this country and culturally many people believe that access to drinking water is a right and should be free. The result is waste. Both sectors have to understand that this precious liquid has to have a proper price/value attached to it. Only then will users value this precious resource.
You can take help save our precious waters by taking steps to save water in your home! Fixing leaks in your faucets and toilets can save money daily. Turning off the water when not in use, for a family of 4, can save up to 32 gallons a day. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and you are already conserving water. Low flush toilets can reduce water consumption by 60%. Installing low flow shower heads can save up money as well!
Using better water conservation practices at home can surely save water. We live on an island and are surrounded by water but we have very limited fresh water. If we all work together to save our fresh water, we can make a difference!