Evaluation of a silver-ion based purification system for rainwater harvesting at a small-scale community level

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Silver has been known for centuries to be a powerful disinfectant, with no known harmful effects to humans if applied in adequate doses. Although its use was partially discontinued with the advent of chlorination and modern antibiotics, the discovery of bacterial resistance and disinfection by-products has enabled its re-emergence as a viable water purification option. On the other hand, implementation in small-scale rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems has received little attention, possibly due to a general perception that it is a complex and/or expensive technology. This can be overcome by efficient designs that dose silver ions into the water at a minimal cost. The authors evaluated a dozen RWH systems equipped with silver releasing devices, which have been providing drinking water to schools and clinics in a rural area of Mexico. This paper represents a follow-up to a previously published study on an evaluation performed in the same region. A number of water quality parameters have been analysed, examining the long-term efficiency of the projects. Our observations show that the silver ion devices act as an effective disinfection mechanism, as long as adequate maintenance is provided. The combination with conventional settling tanks and filtration units seems to greatly enhance the overall performance of the system.

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