The “Improving access to safe drinking water_prospection for low-fluoride sources Groundwater“ Catalyst project has released a summary report of the main findings, presented in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in August.
This Catalyst project, led by BGS, Addis Ababa University and Meta Meta Research, has been investigating the distribution of fluoride in the groundwater of parts of the Ethiopian Rift Valley. The aim has been to understand the natural and human processes to help the design of water systems that can use this water safely, because while fluoride in small concentrations can be beneficial for teeth, in the high concentrations found in Ethiopia it can cause major health problems for teeth and bones.
This report focuses on the practical issues around defluoridation – removing or reducing the level of dissolved fluoride in the water when it is pumped up for supply. It concludes that because of the additional complexity and management burden of having a fluoride treatment process, it is most cost effective to have multi-village water supply schemes with centralised treatment. Such water systems will be challenging to maintain, but in such water-scarce areas is important that good technical design and good communication between government, NGOs and communities unlocks the groundwater potential in a safe way.