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Solar-powered potable water system for CDO, Iligan

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 08:35 PM January 25, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Where water just recently brought death and destruction, water is now restoring life.

Displaced families in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, cities hardest hit by killer floods spawned by Tropical Storm “Sendong,” were among the recipients of a new locally developed green technology that could derive clean drinking water from rainwater and other non-potable sources.


The Ateneo de Manila University’s Innovation Center has brought its solar-powered clean water system to storm-ravaged areas in Northern Mindanao, serving as a critical source of potable water for affected families.

Earlier tested in communities in Palawan, Batangas and Bulacan, the water-sourcing technology’s launch in Northern Mindanao marks the first time it was used in disaster response efforts.


“If you put a value of one peso per liter on having access to clean water after a disaster, the solar cleaning station pays for itself in that short a time.

So this approach to solar off-grid applications that provides clean water is very cost effective,” said AIC Director Gregory Tangonan.

Designed by Ateneo engineers Paul Cabacungan and Jun Granada, the solar-fed water cleaning system operates on a solar panel, car batter, water pump, ceramic filter and an ultraviolet lamp.

The highly portable design costs roughly P25,000, designers said in a statement.

Explaining how the system filters clean water, Cabacungan said: “From the water pump, the water passes through the ceramic filter which removes sediments and then it will pass through the UV lamp which disinfects the water by killing pathogens, viruses and bacteria.”

Tangonan, also Executive Director of the Congressional Committee on Science, Technology and Education, said the system “has been tested in the biological and chemistry testing labs to ensure that the water is very clean.”

In the aftermath of Sendong, AIC’s green technology design arm Solarain, Jesuit organization Simbahang Lingkod Bayan and entrepreneur group Solar Solutions decided to bring the technology to affected areas.


The group sent experts and engineers to install the system in worst-hit communities, where water and sanitation systems were destroyed by flash floods triggered by Sendong a month ago.

The team also trained Xavier University students and professors on how to install and use the system, Ateneo said.

The team “installed a stationary system and mobile system placed on an elf truck with a water tank,” two clean water sources now serving Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, Ateneo said. The system has also providing additional lighting to storm-hit areas, Tangonan said.

AIC hopes its solar-powered clean water system could be used in disaster preparedness measures as it notes the importance of having a reliable source of potable water in areas hit by natural calamities.

“In post-disaster scenarios, getting water to the victims becomes extremely hard…so having prepositioned several thousand liters in affected areas with twenty or so families, we will build in resilience into communities,” Tangonan said.

“We’re using the very rain that caused the flooding … to those areas prepared with rain catchers and solar cleaning,” he added.

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TAGS: ” killer floods, Ateneo de Manila University’s Innovation Center, Cagayan de Oro City, iligan city, potable water system, Solar power, Tropical Storm “Sendong
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