(This photo was submitted by Forrest Walker, in honor to Joe Bass of operationsafedrinkingwater.org with caption; Hey Joe Bass! These signs are all over Chennai, India. Homes or buildings that harvest rainwater proudly proclaim so with a sign on their wall.)
It is the authors hope that someday, we will come to our senses and divert our impending Fresh Water Crisis. However, those that profit from the Monopoly Games “Water Works” syndrome, will insist its socialism.
In a few cases, users are not thoroughly trained in Hygiene (includes many Americans), and some scream there is the potential of Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) contributing to infections and illnesses.
Rain Water Harvesting in its self is only the beginning of the initial life giving support mechanism.
First for the most part, the rain is the collected before it is reaches the ground, where it then becomes contaminated; natural bacteria from waste (Manure) and decay of wildlife and other animals, Agricultural pesticides, industrial chemicals, pharmaceutical waste, residential waste run-offs, municipal infrastructure materials, and of course natural earth borne elements (hard water).
All over the Caribbean people survive very well utilizing Rain Water as their primary source of water. Many of the Indigenous in the Bocas del Toro, Panama region now at least learning to collect rainwater as their primary source. Before, they relied on small streams trickling down through the rainforest. They also bathed in these streams, did their laundry, and even washed their anal areas after a bowel movement in the same stream.
As a Project Manager for a development I was required by the Panamanian governments’ agency ANAM to collect water samples annually to be tested by:
UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE CHIRIQUI
FACUL TAD DE CIENCIAS NATURALES Y EXACTAS _
LABORA TORIO DE AGUAS Y SERVICIOS FISICOQUIMICOS
Their Report follows:
Enclosed I am delivering the report of the Analysis results of the 20 samples of water of the Project. Giving as a result that;
9 of the samples analyzed are out of permissible limit for superficial water, as for coliformes fecal.
16 of the samples are below the permissible limit; as for the dissolved oxygen.
4 of the samples are above the maximum permissible for superficial water concerning the BOD5 (Biochemical Oxygen Demand).
As for the solids in suspension, they are normal.
It can be reckoned that before the rain entered the indigenously inhabited forest area; it had none of the above attributes!
The Rain Catchment systems installed only at the schools by Joe Bass’s team http://www.operationsafedrinkingwater.org, is only the FIRST step in healthcare education. Now every day individual indigenous households are learning to collect rainwater with their own “Safe Water” tanks, and therefore at least start with safer water in their homes. Many go to government clinics, which instruct them in further sanitation preventative methods, like washing their hands, etc. At least they now have a great start to a healthier life. It is now up to the schools, teachers and parents, and community elders to promote additional healthcare information. As well, there are many USA Peace Corps volunteers in these regions that promote better healthcare. Some may say installation of these “safe water” tanks is basically useless in preventing water-borne diseases, so where would they start?
As a side note:
Just after I arrived in Bocas del Toro, November 2004 to start my 4 year position as Project Manager I had some of the local Indian children bring me fresh hot Johnny Cakes, small pocket sized breads shaped like a bun. (I understand the original name was Journey Cake long ago, uses as a source of sustenance during their travels). Anyhow, I bought 4 of the hot fresh out of the oven Johnny Cakes, ate one and put the other 3 in the refrigerator. Two days later I took one out and found it with green, blue, and pink moldy fingerprints on it. That was it for me! I thereafter welcomed volunteer organizations to at least start the education process.
As for another note;
As part of a Rain Water Harvesting infrastructure; proper pre wash (roof wash-off), should be implemented, and debris diverters should be used at the Point of Entry (POE) to help prevent solids from entering the tank. Thereafter, filtration and or UV sanitizer could also be used at the Point of Use (POU) for cleaner soft water.