When safe drinking water helps save money
Until recently, access to water used to be an expensive affair for 52-year-old Srinivasrao of Kuchinnapallu village in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district. Each day he would travel three kilometres on his bike, to Ipur, to get cans of water for his shop. Apart from this tiresome travel of at least 30 minutes each day, Srinivasrao said that it was also a costly affair. “Each can of water was INR 10. This, in addition to the fuel that I had to spend every day to get the water, meant that access to water weighed heavily on my pocket,” he said. An intervention by WaterAid India and Water.Org which helped set up an RO filter plant close to Srinivasrao’s shop in his village has, however, now freed him from his dilemma.
Sometimes, one becomes so accustomed to living in a difficult situation that it almost feels surreal to even think that there could be an alternative to that scenario. It was a similar case with Srinivasrao. Until a team of volunteers, trained by WaterAid India, came to his village to test the quality of water that the community was consuming, he had no idea that their drinking water was contaminated and unfit for consumption. Found to be high in fluoride, people then understood why they would often fall victim to body aches, skin rashes, and other ailments. “The team then installed an RO filter plant and tested the water from there. Unlike the bore well water that we were earlier consuming, this water was not contaminated. We could drink this water without harming our health,” he said.
A pay-for-use service, Srinivasrao said that the community has to pay INR 5 to fill a 20-litre water can from the RO plant. “I am very happy with this initiative,” he said, “The RO plant is close to my shop so I don’t have to go far with my bike and spend extra fuel. The price (of filling cans) is lower. I have many customers from other places, travelers who buy water from my shop—I earn INR 2 for half a liter. So, overall, my earnings have become better.”
Of all the benefits that have been able to draw from the RO plant—the convenience of access, good health, better earning, and lower expenditure—Srinivasrao feels most thankful for the good quality water that he and his family now have access to. “I have come to know that the taste of water is better from the RO plant because it has a low TDS level, of 100 which is fit for consumption,” he said. TDS or Total Dissolved Solid refers to the total amount of dissolved substances in drinking water. A TDS level of 50-150 is acceptable for safe drinking water. “We are no longer ruining our health because of unsafe water,” Srinivasrao added.