In mid-February, the Heavy Metal Removal project (a Swiss Cooperation initiative) installed granular material in the Yacango PTAP to remove arsenic from drinking water. Jaime Uchuya, advisor to the Vice-Ministry of Construction and Sanitation; Hugo Salazar, director of the National Rural Sanitation Program, local authorities and specialists from the Heavy Metals Project took part.
Heavy metals pollution is one Peru’s most serious environmental problems, especially arsenic and lead in drinking water. A rapid response is needed to prevent a public health disaster, especially for communities near mining areas, where water contamination has provoked civil unrest.
Swiss Cooperation (SDC) has been validating a technology for removing heavy metals, to improve drinking water quality in compliance with the national standards for the quality of water for human consumption, especially in rural areas. It is working in coordination with the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation (MVCS).
The MVCS and the District Municipality of Torata in Moquegua have signed an agreement to install a compact treatment plant, to solve the problem of arsenic in the water, in the town of Yacango, in order to guarantee quality drinking water. The MVCS installed the compact treatment plant and transferred the granular material from Lima, and the Torata District Municipality prepared the area for installing the plant. Swiss Cooperation supplied 800 kg of granular material for the technology, plus technical assistance.
A total of 250 households in Yacango will benefit from the improved water quality. Currently the water does not come up to standard, having 0.020 mg/l of arsenic, which is twice the maximum permissible limit of 0.01 mg/l, established in Peruvian legislation by the Health Sector law DS 031-2010.
The compact treatment plant is designed to be operated with a conventional hydraulic and electromechanical system, composed of pre-treatment units, laminar sedimentation and a multimedia filtration system. It is being optimized by using a system which does not use electricity, and can dispense with coagulants. The water treatment plant uses innovative adapted technology, validated in the multimedia filters, to make arsenic removal more efficient.
For further information:
Fact sheet Heavy Metal Removal Project, Swiss Embassy, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Web Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian Aid Programme, Lima Hub (Peru)