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Rama Cay Health Center Receives Solar-Powered Water Filtration System

By Casey Callais -- The drinking water in the tiny island of Rama Cay is dirty. Very dirty. And not in the sense that it can be cleaned by simply scooping out pollutants with a sieve. Much of what contaminates open well drinking water can not be seen by the naked eye; fecal coliforms cannot be scooped out. Neither can protozoa or the many other contaminates, which populate the 5 wells that the 1,000 residents of Rama Cay use for washing, bathing and drinking. Diarrhea is a serious problem (you can hear Maria, the nurse in Rama Cay explain why here) and the population most vulnerable to such contamination rely heavily on the well at the Rama Cay health clinic.

To tackle this problem, blueEnergy engineers devised a clever solution that weds the organization's experience with solar power and biosand water filtration to create, you guessed it, a solar-powered biosand water filter!

With funding from Renewable World, blueEnergy designed and installed a system that pumps water from the clinic's well to a holding tank that then drips into a biosand filter and from there into a holding tank. The system is controlled by a series of float valves that allow water to pass until the tank is full.

Here is an example of the system:

1. The solar panel on the roof of the health clinic powers the electric pump in the well.

2. The submersible pump is controlled by a float switch in the top tank. When the float is down and the sun is out, the pump sends well water into the top tank until the float comes up and cuts the pump off. 

3. There is enough well water in the top tank for several days of the clinic's water requirements. Gravity draws water from the top tank to the filter.

4. Water drips into into the biosand filter at a slow rate giving the good bacteria a consistent supply of bad bacteria to munch on. The water filters down through the barrel of sand and into the clean water storage tank.

5. Clean water is stored in the lower tank which is still high enough to supply water pressure to the clinic.

6. Patients in the health clinic can drink clean water and the staff can work in more sanitary conditions.

No longer is there worry at the health clinic over contaminated water and the sickness that it brings. This installation provides the solution and represents the strong bond between the indigenous community of Rama Cay, blueEnergy and Renewable World.

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