For more than a decade, our founding team has been working to find a sustainable solution to the groundwater arsenic poisoning of the Bengal Basin, which includes Bangladesh and West Bengal of India. In order to discover and implement a sustainable solution to this life-threatening dilemma, we must first understand the root cause of the problem.
There have been efforts by some scientists to approach the matter symptomatically, and to address the issue by proposing the use of arsenic removal filters, which address the acute need for clean drinking water. Unfortunately, there appears to be little consideration for the disposal of the arsenic waste, which is subsequently disposed of indiscriminately on nearby soil surfaces. It is our position, that these scientists have misunderstood U.S. EPA regulations relative to the disposal of arsenic waste in the United States, and have wrongly applied that misunderstanding to these affected nations and their populations. In actuality, they are perpetuating the problem, if not amplifying it.
Our team members, viewing the issue through the spectacles and principles of established geological, hydrological, hydro-geological, geochemical, biological, toxicological, environmental and medical sciences, have raised the question as to the results and impacts of the practice of indiscriminate arsenic disposal upon air pollution, contamination of soil and sediment, surface and groundwater resources, fish products, poultry products, agricultural products, all of which affects the entire public health, ecosystem and environment of the affected area, and resulting in severe damage and possible destruction.
In 2007, Meer Husain, Adjunct Faculty for Cowley Community College, with the help and support of Cowley Community College, the Wichita Area Technical College and his students, developed the “Mukti” treatment system, which removes arsenic, pathogens and other organic and inorganic water contaminants from the drinking supply. In 2008, several pilot projects in urban and rural areas of Bangladesh, under the auspices of the new Academy of Healthy Water, Ecosystem and Environment (“AHWEE”), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, formed to address the arsenic and pathogen crisis in Bangladesh and other underdeveloped nations.
AHWEE, with the help of some key U.S. citizens, expanded the pilot program in 2009 by installing about three dozen systems in schools and villages in the affected area. The Mukti water treatment system, the projects and our findings were presented by AHWEE, in 2010, at 4th international conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a solution to the arsenic and pathogens water crisis in underdeveloped nations.
During this past year of 2011, AHWEE has installed four electricity-based Mukti water treatment systems, serving an additional 500 to 1000 people from each system. Currently, the AHWEE team is working to develop underground systems for the removal of arsenic and other contaminants, to promote a clean supply of agricultural irrigation water, decreasing the number of crop contaminated by arsenic-laden water.
To facilitate growth in usage and streamlining the production and installation process, Humane Water is planning to establish an international center in USA and several local and regional offices around the globe.
In many underdeveloped nations, including Bangladesh, arsenic waste disposal is very expensive. Currently, many scientists have practiced and supported indiscriminate disposal of arsenic waste in Bangladesh and other countries. Because they advertise these indiscriminate disposal methods as safe, many environmental problems have been created. In order to protect the public health, ecosystem and environment from the recontamination of indiscriminate disposal of arsenic waste, we have to reduce the generation of arsenic waste. The use of surface water water is the best solution to the arsenic disaster in Bangladesh and other similar nations. Where there is no arsenic free surface water and groundwater, people must use arsenic removal systems. We provide inexpensive and environmentally friendly systems that generate less waste and spent materials. Our waste disposal system does not recontaminate the air quality, soil and sediments, surface and groundwater resources, agricultural and poultry products, etc.
We observed in Bangladesh that a large number of people are not capable of paying the cost of any arsenic removal system installation and management. We are asking donors or charitable organizations to help pay the water costs for them. A few scientists have successfully promoted inexpensive arsenic removal systems. Few of these companies do not have any monitoring or maintenance systems. A large number of systems from other organizations have been inactive due to breakage and other technical problems. Most of the user of these filters lack the capacity to fix these problems due to poverty and bad designs of the system. On the other hand, the sellers are not taking any initiative to solve these problems.
We think this is a critical issue that needs to be solved by the sellers of the arsenic filtration system. Furthermore, some scientists and organizations advocating indiscriminate disposal of arsenic waste against the proven and established scientific laws and principles of geological, hydrological, hydrogeological, geochemical, biological, toxicological, environmental and medical science should take responsibility for collecting and disposing the waste as per sound scientific laws and principles. We already communicated with some of the scientists and organizations and provided them with sound scientific data and evidence that fully disprove the indiscriminate disposal of arsenic waste in Bangladesh and other countries.
We think that every drop of water is valuable resource. In some places both surface water and groundwater are highly contaminated and other places part of the year surface water is available, but the ground water is contaminated. In other places neither surface and ground is available at all. However, in order to save the humanity around the world, scientists, donors, partners, volunteers and others should come together to find a sustainable solution to drinking, cooking, bathing and agricultural irrigation water supply.