September 2011, Vol. 23, No.9


Clay-based filtration system receives funding for development

The Kosim Water Keg project, which has been field-tested in Northern Ghana, received the Global Challenge Award at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge) IDEAS Competition. This competition encourages student teams to develop and implement projects that make a positive change in the world.

The new water filtration system, which uses ceramic pot filters, won a $10,000 award to support finalizing the system design, completing laboratory and field testing, and marketing, said Chris Schulz, CDM (Cambridge) senior vice president, in a CDM news release.

Schulz partnered with MIT graduate student Joanna Cummings and MIT senior lecturer Susan Murcott to develop the keg as a household water treatment and safe storage system for people in developing countries, the release says.

The Kosim Water Keg combines two ceramic pot filters to form a sealed keg, which is then placed in a larger clay storage vessel. Raw water, usually rainwater collected from puddles, is placed in the outer clay vessel and filters into the keg’s sealed, clean interior. A siphon or plastic hand pump extracts the filtered water for use. By being stored in clay containers, the water stays cool; and since the interior keg is sealed, the water is protected from recontamination, the release says.

Compared to other ceramic filters that use plastic buckets for the outer vessel, the keg filter has twice the filter area and additional depth for water storage. These differences allow the keg to filter at faster rates (up to 11 L/h) than the bucket filters (1 to 3 L/h) with no deterioration of treatment removal efficiency, the release says.

The name Kosim is from the Northern Ghana tribal language, Dagbani, and means “the best water.”

The good and bad about the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has both good and bad news about the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

The good news is that the dead zone did not reach the record size of 22,015 to 24,400 km2 (8500 to 9420 mi2), as predicted earlier this year. NOAA expected the zone would reach record size because of the spring flooding of the Mississippi River. The bad news is that the dead zone’s current size — 17,520 km2 (6765 mi2) — is still much larger than the 4920 km2 (1900 mi2) goal set by the Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force. The zone’s current size is close to its average size during the past 5 years.

This year’s smaller-than-predicted size was due to strong winds and waves associated with Tropical Storm Don. Tropical storms can temporarily provide oxygen to bottom waters through mixing of the water column, according to a NOAA news release.

A research cruise led by Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (Chauvin), documented the size of this year’s dead zone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research funded the study.

Brewing a beer that supports a watershed

The Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, Pa.) launched a new beer that pays homage to water both in name and action. Headwaters Pale Ale, launched in February, is named after the headwaters of Brandywine Creek, the source water used to produce the beer.

Victory Brewing also has decided to use sales of the beer as a way to fund an annual grant for groups working to protect water, according to a company news release. One penny from every bottle sold is collected throughout the year and distributed to the recipient of the Headwaters Grant.

On May 17, the company awarded the first Headwaters Grant to the Guardians of the Brandywine. The $2856 grant will assist the organization in achieving the “Exceptional Value” designation for the upper reaches of the East Branch of the Brandywine and in funding the group’s “My Creek” outreach program to educate individuals to take ownership of clean water issues.


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