Clean Water for India

According to UNICEF, universal access to safe drinking water is a fundamental need and human right. Climate change, population growth, rising standards of living and uneven distribution of water supplies are the main causes for competition over water resources, water scarcity, poor water quality and variability of hydrological events. Only a small fraction of the world's population enjoys a continuous water supply, and it is projected that the world is heading toward a dark period of lack of safe water. To meet the challenges, it will be necessary to develop interventions with decentralized, effective, scalable and adaptive technologies to address the enormous diversity in water-quality parameters and targets. Govt. of India’s recently announced Jal Jeevan Mission will follow a decentralised approach and will require the development of models that are at once cost effective, scalable and adaptive to the enormous hydrological and social diversity of India.

Mechanical and Electrical students from the faculty of Engineering together with law and public policy, joined Nitsan lab and Water-tech lab for a research field trip in South India, and worked in close collaboration with the elite Amrita University in Kerala. The proposed joint research will support the Jal Jeevan mission through a joint, first of its kind effort by Indian and Israeli universities that involves innovative, integrated, cross-disciplinary approach; rooted in a research partnership with a proven, year-long track record of joint research and education. The partnership between the two countries in the water context is a natural one, and is repeatedly called for by the leaders of both countries. During monsoon of 2018 and 2019, Kerala received more than its share of rain. On August 2018, most of the dams were filled up, and gates of all the dams were opened to release excess water. This gushing of water was so powerful that it swept everything in its path; humans, animals, plants, trees, rocks, buildings and created a big deluge affecting millions of people in Kerala. Homes were flooded, people were stranded. 1.5 million people were relocated to relief camps with many dead and missing. The rains not only led to opening of gates of dams but caused Landslides cutting off people’s access to nearest relief centres.

One of the main problems with floods is the contamination of all water sources thus even if there is water, it is non-drinkable. This is the setting that we collaborated with Amrita university. The Indian-Israeli team worked on a variety of projects relating to drinking water, developing: a hybrid social/empirical research methodology; developing automated water treatment technologies; and a system for the removal of heavy metals from polluted water bodies. The Israeli academic and engineering rigour was complimented by the deep socio-cultural understanding and field research know-how of their Indian partners. Much of this research and development revolved around NUF, a patented sustainable low-cost water treatment technology developed at TAU. This collaborative relationship, led in Israel by Prof Hadas Mamane and Dr Ram Fishman, represents just the start of an ongoing productive academic partnership between Amrita and TAU. By working together, the combined team is working on a number of papers, proposals, and projects, to develop and implement the very best the field of sustainable engineering has to offer.