Integrated Bamboo Catchment and Filtration System

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Integrated Bamboo Catchment and Filtration System
A Conceptual Design solution for the Tonle Sap Region, Cambodia

Needra Wickramaratna Debbie To Christopher Barratt Paul Gresser Samuel King October 2009

14064824 14280566 14266139 12038323 14277267

Executive Summary
The Integrated Bamboo Catchment and Filtration System is an economical and sustainable solution to the problem of water purification for the people of Tonle Sap. The people of the Tonle Sap region in Cambodia, many of whom live on and around the Tonle Sap lake itself, are in a state of poverty. Their access to drinkable water is extremely limited and water borne diseases are rife. The problem is exacerbated by the tendency of the locals to discard all organic and non-organic waste directly into the lake, the primary source of water for drinking, washing and recreation needs.

The Integrated Bamboo Catchment and Filtration System is designed to utilise Tonle Sap’s frequently heavy rainfall by capturing rainwater and filtering out the impurities and bacteria contained within it, making the rainwater can be safe to drink. This system is suitable for filtering out the impurities and pathogens present in the lake water so that it can be safe to drink. The most outstanding feature of the system is its low cost. An entire unit can be produced for as little as USD$3.40. This is significant for the people of Tonle Sap, as many survive on less than USD$2 per day. The unit is easily constructed from locally available materials, many of which are freely available. It is straightforward to construct and maintain and the cost of maintenance is also entirely affordable. The total cost of the system, including maintenance, is no more than USD$6.13 for the first year, and no more than USD$4.53 for the years to follow.

The Integrated Bamboo Catchment and Filtration System consists of several easily constructed components. The core functionality of the system is provided by the filtration units. These units are housed in thin, hollowed bamboo pipes. Each filtration unit will have one end filled with filtration material which will filter the water passing through it in incremental stages, allowing drinkable water to pass through the end. The rest of the filtration unit will have half of the bamboo exterior cut away, creating a natural trough which will serve to catch and direct water towards the filtration material.

The filtration material consists of many individual components each with a specific purpose at each stage of the filtration process. A small piece of mosquito netting will be placed above the other filtration material in the unit, the primary purpose of which is to prevent larger waster materials such as leaves from settling in the unit, as well as preventing smaller animals such as mosquitoes from breeding in the unit.


Under the mosquito netting will be a length of sand of varying coarseness. Its purpose is to capture the larger contaminants and prevent them from passing further down the unit. This will capture sediment such as sand and silt, as well as adhering to micro-organisms which are larger than 100 microns in size. Sand suitable for this purpose is freely available from the local soil.

Following the sand will be a length of charcoal and ash which will be effective in removing even smaller impurities from the contaminated water, including materials that affect the aesthetic properties of the water. The charcoal and ash can be easily obtained by burning organic material. Once a system has been built the bamboo cases of retired filtration units can be burnt to provide the ash and charcoal for use with the replacement unit. This is a strong example of the ecological and economical sustainable nature of the design, one of the features which makes this solution far superior to the current solutions utilised in Tonle Sap.

The final stage in the filtration process is provided by a ceramic filter ‘plug’ which will serve to both keep the...
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