Fiji: Ecological Water Purification Systems in Fijian Villages

A marquee was erected outside of the Government Centre in the centre of Suva, containing information from various government departments, organisations and companies with displays of current and future projects. 

It was great to learn some extra in-depth knowledge about how Fiji manages itself, as well as the Government’s future vision. For example, I learned more about weather patterns on Viti Levu and areas of flood risk, to how commercial trade waste is managed and potentially reduced.

However, The Water Authority of Fiji’s table interested me most, with the piloting of an ecological water purification system (EWPS/EPS) in Kalokolevu village in Lami back in July 2013, which has proved successful and has garnered both local and government support to continue implementing EPS’s in rural villages all over Fiji where the infrastructure of water networks does not fully reach them.
As described by the Department of Water and Sewerage, “The EPS is a modification of the slow sand water filter which operates through an ecological process of biological activity in the sand layer, removing contamination and odour”.

The science behind this process is simple and effective. Firstly, ‘rough water’ (muddied) is filtered in to the ‘roughening stone system’ (stones and rocks), which is then filtered into the final filtering stage of a ‘sand layer’, to finally produce purified clean water. If algae grows on top of the sand in the sand layer, this would produce purer water. By Government standards, however, the water is still tested at the final stage to ensure safety and quality.

As 45% of the Fijian population live in rural and maritime areas, of which over 70% of those consume directly from natural water sources such as creeks, the necessity for clean water consumption is key in the Government roadmap to sustainable development. Back in 2013, the Department of Water and Sewerage and The Water Authority of Fiji teamed up with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to pilot the ‘first of its kind’ EPS to be installed in a rural area. EPS’s have proven successful, offering an economical and sustainable system for villagers to have both access to and take ownership of. Critically also, this system further reduces any chemical impact upon the water system by reducing the need for chemical treatments.

This is a fantastic example of how we are stronger when we work together with nature and its amazing ecological systems.

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