Several years ago, at an engineering conference in Las Vegas, we met Mr. Mustapha Dukureh, Water Production Manager with the National Water & Electricity Company of Gambia (NAWEC). This is the national water and electricity board of Gambia, and is the country’s main electric utility, responsible for the supply and conservation of potable water.
Mr. Dukureh told us that he is working on the problem of water purification in his home country of Gambia.
Most of Gambia’s drinking water is taken from underground aquifers. Surface water is not used, because of its high salinity due to the mixing of fresh water and salt water in the lower reaches of the River Gambia and its tributaries.
Drinking water is pumped from approximately 50 boreholes, and is disinfected with gaseous chlorine before being sent to the public water system.
They currently use chlorine as the basis for their water purification. It is ighly effective in killing water-borne pathogens, and is relatively cheap to produce and distribute, but there are problems with it. It is highly toxic, and corrosive. The chlorine tanks at the water treatment station are being weakened, and are beginning to leak chlorine into the environment.
During the conversation, it became clear to us that we could recommend a technology that would be helpful to them.
Currently, Gambia is spending about $250,000 per year on gaseous chlorine. This translates to approximately $50,000 for each of the 5 water purifications stations per year. By replacing gaseous chlorine with a cheaper and safer water purification system that uses salt rather than chlorine, Gambia could achieve a cost saving of approximately $40,000 per year per site.
Infra Innovations is currently working with Gambia to replace the current water purification system with a more robust system which would be safer to operate, easier to maintain, and less costly over the long run.
We have the following goals:
Develop a water purification system with a plan for safe water supply for 10 - 20 years into the future.
Eliminate the possibility of accidental chlorine leakage and make the system safer.
Use a system that would use a cheaper, more readily-available material, such as salt, to provide water disinfecting.