Thursday, June 30, 2016

How does one take samples for water quality tests from lakes

At Jakkur Lake
Earlier this month, Anjana, Siddharth, Vandana and I from Biome visited the office of ATREE to learn about their work, studying and testing water quality.
Apart from the procedural practices of the sampling process we also observed that the part of the lake that's cordoned off to the public harbours noticeable vegetation. With karundas, lantanas , jatrophas, for low shrubbery to acacias, neem and gulmohar for canopies. Also, water snakes have comfortably lodged in the fisherman zone of the lake. The waders have extricated snail and mollusk shells from the floor of the lake. The accumulation was clearly due to the recent rise in temperatures.
We head out to collect samples from inlets, wetland inflows, center of the lake and at the outflows.

What are we testing?
Parameters that need to be analyzed for water quality in the lab are Nitrates, Phosphates and pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and sometimes turbidity. 
For several measurements special portable measuring devices are available.
pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and turbidity tests can be done insitu
Pictured right: Testing conductivity, temperature and pH

First Step
We take samples at the inlets, outlets and center of lake.
Collect samples at about 0.5m from the surface of water with a measured wooden stick
Label the sample containers and store it in an icebox below 4 C
The samples collected for chemical oxygen demand (COD) analysis should be preserved below pH 2 by addition of concentrated sulfuric acid. 
This procedure should also be followed for samples for ammoniac nitrogen, total oxidized nitrogen and phenol analysis.

To test the BOD of the sample, you need to fix the amount of dissolved oxygen in the sample.

Fill the sample to BOD bottle until it overflows. Put stopper on it. Open the stopper and add 1ml of Manganese Sulfate and 1 ml of Alkali-iodide reagent below the surface of liquid. Mix by inverting several times. Slowly brown/white precipitates will form. Check for air bubbles; remix after precipitate has settled to bottom. If brown precipitates appear, add 1ml of concentrated sulfuric acid above the surface of liquid and invert sample to mix, the precipitate will be dissolved. Take 201 ml of sample from the BOD bottle transfer to conical flask.
Titrate sample against standard sodium thiosulphate solution until dark yellow color changes to light yellow. Add starch indicator solution, blue color will develop. Continue the titration until sample turns from blue to colorless. Note down the final reading of burette.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Safe Water and Better Nutrition for Fluorosis Mitigation

The Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network (FKAN) in association with INREM Foundation organized a program titled “Safe Water and Fluoride Learning Workshop”. It was held on the 23rd and the 24th June 2016 at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). The event received a good response with nearly 45 participants from 8 states and 22 organizations around the country. The agenda for the workshop was to understand the current happenings on the Safe water and Fluorosis Issue and to be able to form strategies for action in respective areas of work. This was to ensure fluorosis mitigation happens with a common framework.

But the program for training started from 20th June itself for the Fluoride Fellows. I was one among the participant and the Fluoride Fellow with FKAN. The entire program ran over the week was divided into different phases for specific participants. 

The first phase involved training for the participants who have been closely working with the fluoride mitigation in their own region with FKAN and also for new recruits joining the network. This phase involved cross learning between these participants. Eight Fluoride Fellows were selected who were trained in coming sessions on the basics, issues, debates, solutions and strategies for fluorosis mitigation. These fellows would further facilitate the learning among other participants on the 23rd and 24th June.

The eight fellows selected for different regions are mentioned below

Sl no
Region of Work
Arvind Singh
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
Sachin Vani
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
Kalpana Bilwal
INREM Foundation
Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh
K Subhash
Fluorosis Vimukti Porata Samiti
Nalgonda, Telangana
Sadguru Prasad
Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network
Nalgonda, Telangana
Dharini Saikia
Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network
Nagoan, Assam
Biome Environmental Trust
Kiran Kumar Sen
Biome Environmental Trust

The fellows from the Jhabua, Nalgonda and Assam shared their work and experiences in working on Fluorosis. They were asked to come up with the basic details, issues and solutions for Fluorosis mitigation.  Later these fellows were trained using flash cards on safe water, fluorosis and its issues, debates and solutions for Fluorosis mitigation by Sunderrajan Krishnan and Rajnarayan Indu of INREM Foundation. These flash cards proved successful in improving learning among Fellows. 

Fellows under training session using flash cards, 20-21st June 2016

In the second phase, these flash cards learning methodology were put to test with participants closely working on the issues of water and environment from Anand. These participants were facilitated in learning by the Fellows. These participants gave their feedback on the use of these flash cards. Most of them praised for this simple, yet effective methodology. 

Training Session with participants from Anand, 22nd June 2016

In the last phase i.e. on the 23rd and 24th June, the workshop started formally with arrival of participants who worked with diverse issues related to Children, Women, Self Help Groups, Microfinance, Education, Health, Media, Environment, Water etc. These participants were briefed on the overall Safe water and fluorosis Issue together. 

Common Session on Overall Safe water fluoride Issue, IRMA, Anand, 23rd June 2016

The session on demonstration and short films cleared many doubts among the participants regarding fluoride removal techniques, water quality tests for fluoride identification in the field. They were shown demonstration with chemicals and Caddisfly, testing for fluoride with mobile app.

Demonstration Session in Progress for Fluoride Testing, 23rd June 2016

Later, the participants were divided into 3 groups named on rivers i.e. Godavari, Narmada and Kaveri. Each group had around 10-12 members with 3 fellows to facilitate learning with the flash cards. There were healthy discussions and debates on the safe water, Fluorosis with its issues, solutions, strategies etc. This methodology enabled learning among the participants. They raised many queries which were answered with discussion among the group.

Flash Cards Session among the Participants, 23rd June 2016

The key takeaways from the workshop

I understood that Fluorosis condition is actually reversible with early identification among children. This is done by providing safe water through appropriate measures (Surface water, Rainwater harvesting, Activated Alumina Filters, RO Water etc.) 

Along with it, the use of Amla, Tamarind, Cassia Tora, Drumstick and many more locally available plants to provide nutritious food rich in Vitamin C, Calcium and magnesium, which helps in fluoride detoxification.

The cases of Fluorosis reversal in children are well documented and seen in cases among children from Jhabua in Madhyda Pradesh and Nagoan in Assam.

Different technology for fluoride removal, its comparison and their acceptance on ground.

Kiran Kumar Sen
Biome Environmental Trust

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

BIOME Trust in the News

An article in the India Today on zenrainman

An article in the Economic Times about a "Citizen Science program/Open Data dashboard for Lake monitoring" facilitated by ATREE, YUKTIX and BIOME

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Haralur Road Park: Planning/Planting a pond and food forest (5th June Sunday : 7:30am to 9:00am)

There is a park on Haralur Road, opposite Raindrops on a land parcel of about less than 1 acre. This park is currently maintained by MAPSAS. Some of the people living around the park wanted to set this park up as a sustainable food forest. There is also a small pond at the far end of the park. There were thoughts to revive this pond too

To take this thought towards action, a small event was planned on Sunday morning 5th June (also World Environment Day) to plant some saplings in the park as well as participatorily design the "food forest". Some questions about "what is a food forest ? ","what will be planted" and "how will these plants be maintained" etc got discussed. Here is a presentation that displays a possible Proposal that was discussed.  Thanks to Himanshu for putting together the drawings

12 banana saplings + 2 mango + 1 akash mallige were planted both inside and outside the park. There were imaginations of how the schools kids who wait for the school bus near the park would have access to mangoes in a few years time. Thanks to Meera and Vidhya for arranging for the saplings.

Participants : Vidhya, Kumudha, Bharath, Amol, Smita, Rajeev, Hema, Kanthi, Meera, Himanshu and Shubha

Need to keep this momentum going

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A session on RWH with the Bangalore East Eerulies on 28th May 2016

Looking into the filter
The group
28th May 2016 Saturday was well spent. A good session on Rainwater Harvesting - with a cool/green bunch. The Bangalore East Eerulies. A group of avid gardeners.  The site visit included seeing an active open well, full of water that is still used as a source of domestic water. A rainway filter. A ferrocement filter - well integrated into the home design. All this in a mud-brick home designed by Biome Environmental Solutions Pvt Ltd. Thanks Anjana, Rama, Sharath Nayak, Vani Bhaskar for helping put together this event

It was interesting to hear of homes that already had open wells in Domlur
Recharge Well
Rama points out the recharge Well
A makeshift board

The group

Rainway Filter

The well has water