Ecological Engineering Solves Unsafe Water Problems in Bolivia

Surrounded by mining, the mountainous region of Potosi, Bolivia is plagued by extensive environmental contamination from past and current mining operations.

One mountain alone annually discharges an estimated 161 tons of zinc, 157 tons of iron and more than two tons of arsenic in addition to dozens of other toxic minerals, including cadmium and lead, through its water.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma have discovered a technique to remove pollutants from water that requires minimal labor costs and is powered by nature itself. After 15 years of testing, research has shown this passive water treatment method to be successful in as diverse geography as the flatlands of Oklahoma and the mountains of Bolivia.

The passive water treatment system is created by engineering an ecosystem consisting of a series of filtering ponds. As the water moves through each specifically designed pond, a natural chemical or biological process removes certain contaminants as it slowly moves from one cell into the other before being re-released into natural waterways.

The ecological filtering system requires less fossil fuel input and produces less pollution than traditional energy intensive water filtration technologies.

Source | Science Daily

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