Drinking Water in Vilankulos

Abel Heinsbroek, Vilankulos, Mozambique

Vilankulos is a small coastal town in the Vilanculos district of the Inhambane province of Mozambique with an estimated population of 24 thousand inhabitants. It’s situated 750 kilometers north-east of the Mozambican capitol, Maputo. The water supply for the city centre of Vilankulos is done by a piped distribution network fed by several groundwater wells located several kilometers outside the city.

EMA, the drinking water company of Vilankulos, is facing many problems in their water distribution systems and treatment plant. Bad management of resources, irregular maintenance and a lack of knowledge and manpower affect the water supply, resulting in an intermittent water supply to the town centre of questionable quality.

With the help of students from the local university I set out to investigate the quality of the delivered water and to investigate an alternative, low-tech, treatment system to replace the current, broken-down, installation. I discovered that the produced water contained high amounts of iron and almost no calcium, resulting in aggressive, brown coloured and foul-smelling water to be delivered to the customers. As a low-tech alternative for the current treatment system I investigated roughing filters and built a small pilot plant using local materials. The pilot plant managed to remove over 75 percent of the iron in the water, bringing the iron content to well below Mozambican standards and indicating that roughing filters may be a suitable and relatively simple technique to implement in Vilankulos.

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