From the source to the user, understanding a total water approach to fluoride treatment

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Katherine Ann Alfredo and Tanya O'Garra, Columbia University of New York, Palisades, NY, United States
India is a large user of groundwater resources and one of the countries most impacted by fluoride; the rural areas, where 90% of drinking water is sourced from fluoride-contaminated groundwater, are particularly vulnerable. Since fluorosis has no cure, prevention is key, and defluoridation treatment is a primary mitigation approach. Despite the successful development of defluoridation treatments and technologies worldwide, these solutions encounter a range of operational barriers (e.g. lack of economic and chemical resources, scarcity of skilled operators) and uptake is hindered by a lack of user understanding and participation in the development of community treatment options. Preliminary research highlights that plants typically fail after the first three years of installation, we are investigating why and how to overcome this barrier. Monitoring fluoride concentrations, operations, and user attitudes at several defluoridation plants in Maharashtra, we assess the overall success of these installed technologies. The research considers: (1) the fluctuations in source concentrations with respect to climate and changing water use patterns, (2) treatment with regards to performance, operation, and maintenance of implemented technologies to meet fluoride standards, and (3) user understanding, acceptability and uptake of defluoridation technology. This presentation highlights the operational and behavioral barriers to sustainable defluoridation in India.