Water Treatment Design and Implementation for Rural Regions of Developing Nations
For seven weeks last summer I lived with a homestay family in rural Rwanda. I learned to live as they do, sleeping in their
mud-brick house, waking up at dawn, eating their food and using the same water. They exposed me to the realities of rural
poverty, particularly regarding the inaccessibility of clean water. They talked about struggling to grow enough crops when a
waterborne illness would have them bedridden for a week. They talked about children getting dehydrated because of not
wanting to drink bad tasting water.
I wanted to help solve this problem, so I went out and performed field research in my community of Bwana, in the Eastern
Province, as well as in neighboring communities, to gather information. I asked questions, made observations, and recorded
insights that I hoped one day would help these people live a life without the troubles of unclean water.
Upon returning to USC, Viv and I partnered up so that we could take the field research and turn it into a solution for
Bwana, and for other rural communities like it in the developing world. We designed a water treatment system tailored to
such communities, with the intent that our instructions would be easily understood by government agencies and NGO's in
The research includes a database of the most common and dangerous waterborne pathogens of the developing world, and
detailed instructions for water treatment design systems. Treatment systems include the Horizontal Roughing Filter, which
can effectively remove turbidity from source-water, and the Bio-sand Filter, which uses a biolayer called the Smutzdecke to
biologically treat unsafe source-water. We hope to take these designs to Rwanda and partner with our contact
organizations in an effort to implement the designs in rural communities.
Through our research we have gained greater understanding of what we learn in the Environmental Engineering classes of
the University curriculum, and this includes the concepts relating to the interactions and impact of treatment technologies
with the environment, and the necessity for using local and foreign agencies, foundations and NGOs to secure funding for
the design and implementation of the treatment processes on a global scale in developing countries. During the travel to
Rwanda, Jay Todd Max acquired the skills for pursuing field research, specifically to make insightful observations and
address critical questions. In creating the visual aids pertaining to the two water treatment systems described, Viv Pitter
acquired the knowledge for implementing computer automated design programs such as SketchUp.
Student Contribution: http://cee.usc.edu/assets/024/85077.pdf
This post was written by Admin1