Skip to content

Tap water fine in Richmond, not so in Africa: Student

As Richmond schools tighten their waste reduction belts, students also turn their focus globally.

As Richmond schools tighten their waste reduction belts, students also turn their focus globally.

Steveston-London student Sandy Lun and graduate Rachel Wong recognize the benefits of reusable bottles, but also know in Richmond, people are privileged.

There are many areas globally that dont have access to clean water, said Lun, who is currently organizing a Walk for Water fundraiser. All the proceeds will be donated to Free the Children and we hope to build a well in Africa.

Though the date and location is yet to be decided, Luns fundraiser was inspired by the same fundraiser Wong organized two years ago.

Students from different schools and people from the community walked with buckets of water to raise money and awareness for water conservation and sanitation.

Water is one of the most important, basic human rights, said Wong, 19. We cant focus on other levels of society if this basic right isnt fixed.

Wong visits her former high school to help out with the fundraiser, but she also attends UBC and volunteers at a non-profit charity, The Water School.

The charity focuses on sustainable water practices and uses the phenomenon of bottled water to its advantage in places where filtered water isnt an option.

It does this through the Solar Disinfection (SODIS) technique, which changes contaminated water whether clear, clouded or even brown to safe, drinking water.

If the water is collected in a clear, plastic bottle and is left in direct sunlight on a hard surface for one full sunny day, or two full days if cloudy, the suns UV rays kill the micro-organisms in the water.

The technique is well-established and well-used in places like Haiti. About four million people use the SODIS method, according to the Engineering for Change website.

I dont use bottled water, it adds extra waste to the environment, said Wong. But after learning about the solar technique, it made me think that maybe having bottled water in other places is a good thing.

In order for SODIS to be effective, several conditions must be met:

- Adequate health and sanitation practices must be applied alongside SODIS training.

- The target area must be 35 degrees above or below the equator (the complete continent of Africa).

- A ready supply of plastic bottles, free from scratches, must be available.

- The water in the bottle should be clear enough to see spread fingers of ones hand on the other side.

(List of conditions from