Public Awareness Program on Nanofiltration
One of the main objectives of establishing the China Sri Lanka Research Grant Project (CSRGP) is to develop groundwater treatment facilities for the dry zone, Sri Lanka, to mitigate the CKDu. Accordingly, CSRGP has developed a proposal for a Nanofiltration system and gained attention from the Ministry of Water Supply (MoW). Instalment of five water treatment plants in selected Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in CKDu-affected areas facilitated by the MoW. Suitable CBOs were selected by the Department of National Community Water Supply (DNCWS). DNCWS handled the financial component and the installation of Nanofiltration facilities was done under the supervision of CSRGP.
Typically, a Nanofiltration (NF) membrane contains pores ranging from 1 – 10 nm and possesses the potential to eliminate almost all dissolved organic contaminants and viruses. Significantly it can remove a range of dissolved salts, especially divalent salts, hence highly beneficial in treating water with high hardness. The NF technology is conceptually similar to the RO technology, where the separation is due to transmembrane pressure, and the pore diameters define the membrane type directly related to the separation rate.
A pilot scale nanofiltration units were installed in August 2020 in five CBOs in Wilgamuwa and Hasalaka CKDu affected areas.
A CBO is a villagers-based government organization in Sri Lanka to ensure safe drinking water for the community, which operates under the DNCWS. These filtration units were funded through the MoW via the CSLRGP while building constructions were financed by the DNCWS.
Being the technical team of the respective project, we visited to observe the water quality of five plants. According to our observation, one of the plants was non-functioning and two inadequately functioned, distributing only 20-30 L of filtered water per day. The other two plants were properly operating, supplying about 300- 600 L of water per day, which is also below the expectations.
Further, we noticed that the villagers were unaware of the importance of consuming purified water or the relation between water quality and health. They are also unacquainted with the seriousness of CKDu, which leads to the poor function of the filtration plants.
Therefore, in association with DNCWS, an awareness program covering all five CBOs was organized. The program was held on the 28th and 29th of July 2022. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) and the National Renal Disease Prevention Unit, Ministry of Health (MoH), were invited for the same.
Following members participated in the program re-presenting JRDC, DNCWS, NWSDB and MoH.
|Dr. SK Weragoda (Director)|
|Dr. M Makehelwela (Senior Chemist)|
|Dr. TN Premachandra (Chemist)|
|Mr. Chamila Rathnayake (Engineer)|
|Mr. Ashen Randika (Research Assistant)|
|Mr. Lahiru Kulasekara (Trainee)|
|Mr. Mihidu Rajapaksha (Trainee)|
|Dr. Pubudu De Silva (Consultant, Community Medicine)|
|Mr. Mangala Rajapaksha (Senior Geologist)|
|Mr. Chinthaka Wickramarachchi (Officer In-Charge)|
|Mr. Indika Sampath|
During the post-program observations done three weeks later, the number of NF water-consuming families increased by 200 with daily increments counting future. Further, closed and poorly functioning plants are now operating effectively, where villagers tend to solve small obstacles facing themselves, understanding the importance of consuming safe drinking water, showing the successfulness of the program.