Validation of large-volume batch solar reactors for the treatment of rainwater in field trials in sub-Saharan Africa.


Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa. Electronic address: [Email]


The efficiency of two large-volume batch solar reactors [Prototype I (140 L) and II (88 L)] in treating rainwater on-site in a local informal settlement and farming community was assessed. Untreated [Tank 1 and Tank 2-(First-flush)] and treated (Prototype I and II) tank water samples were routinely collected from each site and all the measured physico-chemical parameters (e.g. pH and turbidity, amongst others), anions (e.g. sulphate and chloride, amongst others) and cations (e.g. iron and lead, amongst others) were within national and international drinking water guidelines limits. Culture-based analysis indicated that Escherichia coli, total and faecal coliforms, enterococci and heterotrophic bacteria counts exceeded drinking water guideline limits in 61%, 100%, 45%, 24% and 100% of the untreated tank water samples collected from both sites. However, an 8 hour solar exposure treatment for both solar reactors was sufficient to reduce these indicator organisms to within national and international drinking water standards, with the exception of the heterotrophic bacteria which exceeded the drinking water standard limit in 43% of the samples treated with the Prototype I reactor (1 log reduction). Molecular viability analysis subsequently indicated that mean overall reductions of 75% and 74% were obtained for the analysed indicator organisms (E. coli and enterococci spp.) and opportunistic pathogens (Klebsiella spp., Legionella spp., Pseudomonas spp., Salmonella spp. and Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts) in the Prototype I and II solar reactors, respectively. The large-volume batch solar reactor prototypes could thus effectively provide four (88 L Prototype II) to seven (144 L Prototype I) people on a daily basis with the basic water requirement for human activities (20 L). Additionally, a generic Water Safety Plan was developed to aid practitioners in identifying risks and implement remedial actions in this type of installation in order to ensure the safety of the treated water.


EMA-qPCR,Large-volume SODIS reactors,Rainwater harvesting,Rainwater quality,Water scarcity,

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