Published on May 11th, 2010 | by Derek Markham6
Clay + Coffee Grounds + Cow Dung = Open Source Water Filters
Imagine taking a hunk of clay, some coffee grounds, and some cow dung, and turning it into an effective water filter, ensuring clean drinking water for people across the globe. That’s the idea behind Abundant Water, and they’re teaching Lao villagers to make and use these water filters for their health and economic well being.
The clay pot filter concept is the brain child of Australian scientist (and potter) Tony Flynn, and it’s so low tech as to be an almost unbelievably simple solution for those populations without ready access to clean drinking water. All it takes is some clay, some organic matter, and a fire made from cow dung. How’s that for simple?
“They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere. They don’t require any western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, a compliant cow and a match. Everyone has a right to clean water, these filters have the potential to enable anyone in the world to drink water safely.” – Tony Flynn
Abundant Water is an organization “committed to developing a system using clay pot filters to provide clean drinking water to ethnic Lao villagers”. Not only are they making the filters, but they are also conducting an education campaign to encourage local ownership of the filter production and distribution process.
According to Abundant Water, the tradition of clay pottery in Lao villages is in danger of dying out due to the popularity of plastic and metal containers, and producing these simple, effective water filters can be a way for the local potters to stay in business. The traditional Lao pots are also fired without a kiln, at temperatures similar to those of Tony Flynn’s pots.
Abundant Water is a volunteer run organization, with its initial seed funding coming from Rotary International. This effort needs your help, so any donations are welcome, and feel free to contact them for more volunteer opportunities. You can also follow along with their Twitter feed, or become a Fan of Abundant Water on Facebook.
Download a PDF of Tony Flynn’s clay pot filter instructions.