35 – 50% of potable water projects in rural Africa fail in 5 years!

A study undertaken by the University of Oregon shows between 35 – 50% of potable water projects in rural African communities fail within the first 2 – 5 years. Fortunately, the solution to one of the most common reasons for this tragic failure rate is just a call away – as demonstrated at a water treatment plant in the small town of Alice in the Eastern Cape.

Successful rural water projects transform the lives of the local people. In light of this, the research finding that up to 50% of these potable water projects in rural Africa fail within five years is tragic and unforgivable, especially when the solution to one of the most common causes of this failure rate is as easy and simple as accessing specialist and experienced African expertise – preferably during the design and planning phase.

1. Common – and needless – cause of failure

The reasons why so many potable water solutions fail within five years of installation are numerous, but recent independent research among design engineers in the SADC provide some insights. This research shows that fully 75% of surveyed design engineers said that they had encountered filters during their careers that “partly or fully failed to deliver against expectations”.

2. The main causes identified for this significant ratio of partial or full failures were:

  • The wrong type of filter was installed
  • Insufficient or incorrect information about the process was supplied
  • The solution was too expensive/complex to operate
  • The filter required too much human intervention
  • It was too expensive/difficult to maintain

The partial or full failure of filters is a needless and unnecessary problem that can be resolved by simply accessing the right specialist expertise to ensure the right filter is specified for the specific situation, as was the case in Alice.

    3. The rural town of Alice shows the way

    The potable water treatment plant in Alice in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, commissioned by the Amathole District Municipality, demonstrates how the right filter can make all the difference in water-starved rural communities.

    The Superior Filtration AGF Autonomous Gravity Sand filters at the Alice potable water treatment plant were installed 20 years ago. For the past two decades, they have functioned autonomously with no human control, the bare minimum of maintenance and without any repair or replacement of any parts!

    The success of the filtration system in Alice lies in the fact that it was correctly specified by specialists in the field to fulfil all the necessary requirements demanded by the unique African rural environment where municipalities have low budgets and limited resources.

    In addition, the inherent simplicity of AGF filters makes a diagnostic support service, that can initially be offered via telephone or WhatApp, feasible. It is the ideal solution for addressing filtration system problems in difficult-to-access rural areas.

    4. Filter features that are the ideal fit for the African rural context 

    • Easy installation
      • Minimum civil works on site
      • Fabrication under tightly controlled factory conditions
    • High efficiency
      • AGF filters cycle autonomously between filtration and backwash cycles resulting in regular, thorough cleaning of the filter bed
    • High reliability
      • No moving, rotating or close tolerance components
      • No peripheral components
    • Low maintenance costs
      • No peripheral equipment (backwash pumps, controllers, blowers)
      • Manpower limited to periodic oversight functions
    • Easy Maintenance
      • Maintaining the integrity of the mechanical structure and periodic replacement of nozzles and sand
    • Zero electrical energy consumption
      • Gravity flow through the filter
      • Completely autonomous function
    • Zero operational costs
    • Virtually no downtime
    • Diagnostic and support service via telephone or WhatApp

    “The rural Alice water treatment plant provides evidence that the key to lasting optimal filtration performance is an accurate diagnosis of the needs at the specific plant. At Alice, the typical challenges that most rural local authorities are confronted with existed. These included financial constraints, operational and logistical difficulties, and varying raw water quality. The inherent simplicity of AGF filters and the key features listed above made it the ideal, lasting solution for Alice,” says Albert Bam, director at Superior Filtration, a South African-based industrial filtration specialist that supplies filtration solutions in 32 countries.

    “We are enthusiastic about the part we can play in addressing the evolving water crisis in South Africa and around the world.”

    5. Quick, easy access to filtration expertise 

    The Superior Filtration diagnostic team invites both design engineers and end users of filtration systems to make use of our no obligation diagnostic service.

    “Consulting a diagnostic specialist before specifying the filters to be used in any process is the simple solution to successful, long-lasting filtration systems,” says Bam. “Our team, with more than 30 years’ experience, is well-positioned to provide crucial advice and consultation to end-user municipalities, as well as to engineers, consultants, contractors and project managers designing water filtration systems.

    “Our specialists will not only assist you in addressing current filtration system problems, but also help you to ensure that sub-optimal performance and failures can be prevented at design stage – ensuring filtration solutions that work for decades, requiring minimal management and maintenance, and ultimately reducing risk, downtime and costs.”

    6. Stay in touch

    Follow us on LinkedIn or join any of our social media platforms.