DARE YOU to drink muddy water. You wouldn’t, would you? No, because your body is a temple, and you care what goes inside it. The threat of water-borne diseases, filth, and muck makes you break out in a clammy sweat, which, by the way, is causing you to lose more water, which you need, because a human needs water to survive, and you’ll probably die in three days or so without it. So drink up. But what to do with dirty water?
An invention from the Netherlands, the Tulip Water Filter by Basic Water Needs, is now being distributed in the country. While a neighborhood supplier has a newfangled ultraviolet water filtration system, ideally, one will need one for the home that’s affordable. The Tulip Water Filter costs about P2,500, and can be easily set up by a child. One just needs to connect two plastic basins together, insert the filter (called a candle), and watch about 70,000 liters of water flow through over the next few years. This is based on the model of the Berkefeld filter, which was invented in Germany in the 1890s.
To test the product, the Philippine distributors of the filter, Southlight Technology and Distribution, Inc., used water from the Pasig River. Wilbert Cua, managing director of Southlight, recalled during a press conference in Quezon City on March 22 (which happened to be World Water Day) how representatives from the Department of Health’s National Reference Laboratory asked them if they were sure about what they were doing. Scooping out water from the Pasig River by Guadalupe in Makati City, they found the water from what was once a grand waterway to have color and odor well below the permissible limits of clean drinking water. After being the run through the filter, the water passed permissible limits, including those for sediments and even for fecal coliform bacteria.
When asked if Mr. Cua himself drinks water from the filter, he said: “Yes!” Even his children do, since he has two of the filters in his own home.
The filter is made from diatomaceous earth, active carbon, and nanosilver, and takes inspiration from ancient water filters, and the aforementioned Berkefeld filters, which once used clay and ceramics.
Annemarieke Maltha, Business Development manager from Basic Water Needs, said that it works by having very small holes which bacteria and other contaminants are too big to penetrate. Of course, this doesn’t filter out tiny atoms like those from elements, so Ms. Maltha said that its limitations include not being able to filter out heavy metals like arsenic. “There are of course, more expensive technologies which can filter out more… but for the basic safety — it’s more than effective,” she said of the product.
The water filters are distributed in about 35 countries, from Nepal to Ecuador, in mostly undeveloped areas. The filter was first seen in the Philippines as a result of foreign aid which arrived after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit, where they were distributed to survivors of the massive story. In 2016 that Mr. Cua came upon the filter through a friend, who once worked with typhoon Yolanda survivors.
Mr. Cua drank muddy water which went through the water filter during the press conference, perhaps to prove a point. Later, when all the cameras were gone, and normally filtered water was passed around to guests who lingered during the event, Mr. Cua’s wife took a glass herself, and without batting an eyelash, drank the filtered muddy water. To your health. — Joseph L. Garcia