A religious small town known for its natural springs with no origins, Thenari, is located at Pollachi road, around 15 kilometers from Palakkad District. People in Thenari usually indulge in an agricultural occupation. But Sonia, 21, and Sindhu, 23, are Para Hydrologists/Water Technocrats who are working with Peoples Service Society Palakkad (PSSP), WaterAid India’s partner.
“The farmers here mostly sow paddy and coconut in the fields due to surplus availability of water. But this does not mean that the water is pure and not contaminated,” says Sonia. Two years ago, after their graduation, Sonia and Sindhu took part in a volunteer training programme organised by PSSP. The training involved water testing of various sources of water such as groundwater wells, piped water supply, storage tanks, etc. to keep a check on water quality. It was this time when both of them realized that there seems to be a notion that any source of water is good for consumption. Thus, they decided to create awareness through the masses by testing the quality of water and proposing needful mitigations.
“The lack of good quality of water has adverse health effects. Awareness of contaminants in water and corresponding treatment is a quintessential knowledge that everyone must possess,” shares Sindhu.
PSSP was determined to raise awareness about water contamination and therefore began imparting training to frontline health workers on water quality testing with the support of PepsiCo Foundation and technical guidance from WaterAid India. This resulted in the setup of water recharge tanks, with filters connecting the rainwater harvesting systems (RWHS). Today, there is a timely check on water quality levels by the hydrologists of PSSP.
Sonia and Sindhu are both certified technocrats/hydrologists for the ward by PSSP. Contamination of water due to bacterial factors such as E.coli and chemical factors such as nitrate and fluoride are very common in groundwater wells of the locality. Although contaminants in the piped water supply were under permissible limits, presence of fluoride was very high owing to industrial waste discharge around the village. The access to contaminant-free drinking water will mean no health issues for individuals and eventually give rise to a healthy community living standard.
“One aspect of water contamination which goes unnoticed is the proper discharge of greywater from RWHS. Usually, the greywater is an inlet to the kitchen garden and ends mixing with groundwater,” says Sindhu.
Sonia and Sindhu tested 150 sources of water in 2018 and 250 sources in 2019. “I got to know about this opportunity to test water quality levels through a friend who works in an Angwanwadi. Now, I’m able to raise awareness about water-related issues on health and provide practical solutions to the people of this community. I feel good about myself bringing about a change in whatever way I can.” concludes Sonia. Now, they aspire for the UV/Micro Filters to the metered piped water supply in the households since they are the primary source for cooking.