Fiber Reinforced Biosand Filters Bring Clean Water to the Philippines

Clean Water International is a nonprofit organization providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions to rural communities in the Philippines and is expanding globally. They are located in the United States, Canada, and the Philippines. Founded in 2011 by Executive Director, Mr. Darrell Nelson, Clean Water International bases its efforts around their mission statement:

“We believe in every child’s right to clean water.”

In June 2011, Nelson and his team began manufacturing concrete biosand water filters in Davao, Mindanao, Philippines. The first 18 months of his mission was focused on the manufacturing of the water filters and community development process. The team quickly discovered the concrete biosand filter’s 1-inch thick walls needed to be strengthened if they were to last. During the demolding process, the building team would experience breaking around the top of the filter edges and nose section. A substantial amount of time and effort was dedicated to repairing the filters. Rebar and steel mesh were explored as a reinforcement method for the filters but were abandoned after experiencing poor results.

Nelson had been in the building industry in Canada for over 16 years and remembered fibers being used to reinforce light-weight concrete used for the construction of multi-story buildings. “Could this be the solution?” Nelson thought. In 2015, he discovered FORTA®’s micro monofilament synthetic fiber, MIGHTY-MONO®, at a local builder’s show in the Philippines. MIGHTY-MONO® offers long-term durability and increased impact resistance for light-weight concrete applications.

Clean Water Int’l Philippines then made their first order of 50 bags of MIGHTY-MONO® to test as a reinforcement option for their next batch of 100 biosand water filters.

“The fiber results were amazing!” Nelson explained.

Just as he imagined, the fiber reinforcement made the concrete of their precast biosand water filters much stronger with no breaking or fracturing. This lead to almost a 100% reduction in water seeping out during leak testing.  Previous to using fiber reinforcement, the filter build team would experience 40+% concrete breaking and fracturing when demolding. With the use of MIGHTY-MONO®, this is no longer an issue! Recently, after hearing about the initiative, FORTA Corporation donated 200 pounds of MIGHTY-MONO® to Clean Water International in order to make 3,000 concrete biosand water filters.

Clean Water International works in the rural areas of the Philippines serving many indigenous communities throughout the country. Many of these communities are located far off the main roads, forcing the team to deliver the concrete biosand water filters off road only using simple 4×4 trucks.  From those small dirt roads, many heavy filters are then hauled by water buffalo, horses, or by hand up into the mountains to homes and schools. Due to these obstacles, the transit from their humble manufacturing facility to the homes of the Filipino people require that the concrete biosand water filters will withstand the harsh journeyNow that the filters are reinforced with fiber, they stay intact from their creation to their final destination, and beyond!

More About Biosand Water Filters:  The biosand water filter was invented by Dr. David Manz from the University of Calgary, Canada. It is now being used in over 110 countries around the world, and Clean Water International is the primary manufacturer and distributor of biosand filters in the Philippines. A biosand filter is a point-of-use water treatment system adapted from traditional slow sand filters. Biosand filters remove pathogens and suspended solids from water using biological and physical processes that take place in a sand column covered with a biofilm. The filters have been shown to remove heavy metals and bacteria.

Clean Water Int’l USA is a 501(c)(3) registered charity.