Rotary District 7810 (New Brunswick, Canada and Maine, USA) and Rotary Clubs within the District have approved a program to install the new KOHLER Clarity water filter in the Dominican Republic, funded by a Global Grant. The grant funds an initial installation of 1560 Clarity filters, support of a local Water Filter team and water testing laboratory – both located at the Good Samaritan Hospital, La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Rotary International has been deeply involved in humanitarian efforts in the eastern Dominican Republic for many years, including WASH projects and biosand filter installations. Though the region has become a primary tourist destination (Punta Cana), most of the eastern DR (La Romana) is still used for the production of sugar, with immigrant Haitian workers. The villages of the sugar plantations, “bateys”, are communities of great poverty and need. The sugar cane cutters and their families need clean potable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, schools, and basic health care. This grant focuses on the availability and sustainability of clean potable water for this population.
The Kohler Company (Wisconsin, USA) has developed a new filter design, Kohler Clarity (www.clarity.kohler.com), for use in areas of the world with water that is contaminated by microbiological agents, primarily bacteria and parasites. The KOHLER Clarity design uses a silver impregnated micro-pore ceramic and removes a very high percentage of these agents. KOHLER Clarity was designed to meet WHO (World Health Organization) water quality standards. KOHLER Clarity filters up to 2 liters/hour, up to 40 liters/day, and has a total capacity of 23 liters (11 liters dirty with 12 liters clean with safe storage. Efficacy of the filter has been tested extensively in the laboratory (Tufts University) and in the field (India, Africa). This program will be first widespread use of KOHLER Clarity in the Dominican Republic.
Kohler engineer Tim White accompanied Rotarian Bob Chagrasulis to the Dominican Republic in November 2014 to visit bateys and to show initial designs of KOHLER Clarity to women there who would be potential recipients of the final filter. The women were asked their opinion on the design shape of KOHLER Clarity and whether they would use this filter in their home.
The Water Filter Team is well established at the Good Samaritan Hospital, with >6000 biosand filters installed to date. The cost of these filters is not paid by the recipient, but by visiting volunteer teams – US church, university or medical school, hospitals, Peace Corps, other NGOs, and visiting Rotary Clubs and District teams. The cost includes the price of the filter at the US source, shipping to the DR, education/training in use of the filter by the recipient family, and installation expenses (Water Filter Team); batey health and water promoter salaries and laboratory water testing are partially covered by the filter cost. The installation of KOHLER Clarity filters would use this model of expenses covered by the initial filter cost, in order to provide sustainability. The KOHLER Clarity filters are substantially less costly than the plastic biosand filters with improved quality of water purification.
Water and sanitation conditions change on the bateys; water sources are varied in the countryside – some are direct from wells and others are piped in from neighboring communities. One very significant factor in the Dominican water supply, instituted since the cholera outbreak in Haiti several years ago, has been the intermittent chlorination of water at its source on the bateys. This chlorination can have an overwhelming and detrimental effect on the bacteria of the functioning biosand filters. The efficacy of KOHLER Clarity in removing microbiologic agents is unaffected by chlorination.
Laboratory water testing as a part of an ongoing quality assurance program is imperative. Evaluation of the success of new filter installations can be assessed by water source testing (pre-filter) and filter water (post-filter) laboratory examination for microbiologic contamination.
WASH programs, largely funded by Rotary (biosand filters, latrines, handwashing facilities, hand washing education) have been successfully undertaken by the Good Samaritan Hospital Water Filter Team. The hospital outreach is closely aligned with the health concerns of people living in the sugar cane villages (~120 bateys surrounding la Romana; ~400 bateys in the eastern DR). Health and Water Promoters are batey residents who monitor the health of citizens and continued functioning of the water filters installed there.
Kohler Company engineers and Rotarians will travel to La Romana, Dominican Republic in the early spring of 2017 to work with the Good Samaritan Water Filter team in the initial installation of the KOHLER Clarity filters on the bateys there.
Bob Chagrasaulis, M.D.
Rotary Club of Farmington Maine USA
Rotary Districty 7790