Lahanda village in Odisha leads the way in the use of clean water technology

Photo Essay

By Subhani Katugampala | Photos by Subhani Katumgampala

Lahanda is the site of Gram Vikas’ and AguaClara Reach’s first of a series of Hydrodoser projects to be instituted as part of the Water Quality Management Programme. The Hydrodoser, developed by AguaClara Reach, serves disinfected water to the village of Lahanda without the use of electricity.

About 280 km away from the capital city of Bhubaneswar lies a small village in an industrialized pocket of Keonjhar with around 200 people named Lahanda. Lahanda is the site of Gram Vikas’ and AguaClara Reach’s first of a series of Hydrodoser projects to be instituted as part of the Water Quality Management Programme.

The Hydrodoser is a modular chlorinator that has been designed by AguaClara Reach to run without the use of electricity and maintain the same performance as mechanised chlorinators. This is a smart-tech system designed to work specifically in rural and natural disaster-ridden areas as an easy and efficient way to disinfect water sources of disease-causing pathogens and viruses. Since it is a nonelectric system, the Hydrodoser makes use of the power of running water and elevation differences to drive chlorine through the system before entering the storage tank.

The Hydrodoser is able to avoid the common overdosing problem of chlorinators by automatically adjusting the chlorine flow rate based on the water flow rate i.e., if the flow rate of water increases, the flow rate of chlorine through the Hydrodoser will increase by an equal amount. This way, people can rest assured that their water is properly disinfected.

The fully installed Hydrodoser in a room atop the water tank in Lahanda. Photograph by Subhani Katugampala.

Community trains in Hydrodoser operation

Training is a critical part of the project. AguaClara Reach first trains Gram Vikas, who then goes on to train the local village. This two-phase training ensures (1) a certain degree of technical knowledge is retained by Gram Vikas for on-the-ground troubleshooting purposes, and (2) daily operational practices are fully understood by the village so they can independently own and operate their complete water supply system.

For the Lahanda project, since this was the first site of the Hydrodoser, initially training sessions were mostly PowerPoint presentations explaining the technical concepts and displaying the operational practices. If any small issues arise during Hydrodoser operation, the operators can contact the Gram Vikas field staff, who can then alert the central Gram Vikas Hydrodoser technical support team and AguaClara Reach, if needed.  

Once the unit was fabricated and transferred to the village, the training became more hands-on and allowed for a greater degree of comprehension, as it was easy to see the concepts come to life with a 3D unit as opposed to 2D drawings. The concepts that they were introduced to previously became more apparent as they could see them in action.

Once installed on top of the water tank and with water running through the Hydrodoser, it became even more apparent to observe how chlorine flows through the system to disinfect the water before entering the storage tank.

Each training session always ends with a role reversal, in which the student becomes the teacher. This allows the opportunity to informally test the quality of the training. If the training was well designed, then the operators should be able to thoroughly explain the material – such as dose setting, turbidity measurements, chlorine solution preparation, etc. – without too much assistance.

The last day of training is the time for the operators to display how well they have understood the training material. In Lahanda, after several training sessions, the operators were able to demonstrate their ability to operate the Hydrodoser independently.

Before training the village operators, Gram Vikas and AguaClara Reach trained the Gram Vikas field staff in Bileipada to ensure Hydrodoser technical knowledge remains as close to the village as possible. Photograph by Subhani Katugampala.

A woman operates the Hydrodoser in Lahanda

After a series of thorough training sessions have been conducted and the operators have noticeably grasped the information necessary to operate the Hydrodoser, the monitoring phase of the project begins. In this phase, the operators start daily operation with assistance from a Hydrodoser technical support team member. Daily, an operator spends less than an hour to complete operational tasks such as preparing chlorine solution, monitoring turbidity of the water source, and maintaining a detailed record of data.

Perhaps the most underrated yet critical part to ensure smooth Hydrodoser operation is consistent data recording. Most of the time, since it’s difficult to see the immediate benefits of routine data collection, it is often regularly maintained. Later on, if a small issue in the system emerges, it might be difficult to identify the root of the issue without any detailed account of daily system performance.

In Lahanda, Binodini Patra, one of the Hydrodoser operators, quickly understood the need to maintain the logbook and has made daily entries since starting up her responsibilities as Hydrodoser operator. If a small issue arises, the Hydrodoser technical support team will review the logbook to determine the cause and recommend troubleshooting procedures.

Hydrodoser redesign for integration into existing water supply systems

The next couple of Hydrodoser projects have been slated to start in Ganjam and Gajapati, in villages that are enrolled in Gram Vikas’ Water Quality Management Programme and have evidence of bacterial contamination in their piped water supply system. For these projects, AguaClara Reach will redesign how the Hydrodoser gets integrated into the existing water supply systems to reduce excessive costs or reconfigurations. Even with this change, the overall process to institute a Hydrodoser project will be mostly the same as it was in Lahanda.

Lahanda set a precedent in that it showed that the Hydrodoser technology is viable in rural villages of Odisha. In the years to come, through this partnership between Gram Vikas and AguaClara Reach, the Hydrodoser will spread to villages affected by bacterial contaminated water sources in an effort to go beyond water supply and deliver safe drinking water on tap.

 

Binodini Patra enthusiastically shows how to make logbook entries as her fellow operators look on. Photograph by Subhani Katugampala

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Binodini Patra, Ashutosh Bhat, Divya Chirayath, the GV Bileipada project office, who have all been inspiring to work alongside for this pilot project.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Subhani Katugampala is Gram Vikas' partner representative from AguaClara Reach.

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