September 14, 2018

How communities in Carolinas could find safe water if Hurricane Florence knocks out facilities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The methods for implementing safe water supplies in developing countries might also apply to the Carolinas during Hurricane Florence, says a Purdue University water supply and sanitation expert.

Wind, rain and flooding from the hurricane could damage water treatment facilities and prevent them from being used to provide safe water.

Ernest Blatchley III, a Purdue professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering, has led teams in the Dominican Republic that have installed water treatment systems within a day or two by investigating a few key characteristics of the community.

"The same rules apply to a natural disaster response," Blatchley says. "We work with community members to identify their source of water, the constraints and requirements for treatment, who will operate the treatment system, how many people need access and what the community could afford until utilities are back up and running.  From there, we are able to identify treatment processes that can be combined to provide safe water and implement them." 

In most cases, these systems can be developed with off-the-shelf hardware to provide safe water.

Blatchley can speak generally on the strategies communities such as those in the Carolinas could undertake in quickly finding temporary sources of safe water, along with the potential impacts of poor water sanitation. 

Writer: Kayla Wiles, 765-494-2432, wiles5@purdue.edu

Source: Ernest Blatchley, 765-494-0316, blatch@purdue.edu

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