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Biosand Water Filter

With the leadership, vision and blessing of Pujya Swamiji, the South Asia Pure Water Initiative (SAPWII), Friendly Water for the World (FWFW), Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) joined together under the Project Hope umbrella as one team with one theme: to provide clean drinking water to all, starting with the flood devastated regions of Uttarakhand.


Water: A Global Issue

clean drinking water need

  • 80% of the world’s childhood diseases can be attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
  • 1600 children a day die from poor water, sanitation and hygiene, according to UNICEF.
  • 97 million people in India do not have access to clean, improved drinking water.
  • The need for clean and safe drinking water, especially for young children, could not be greater.

Find out what GAP is doing >>

Benefits of Biosand Filter

health minister

Uttarakhand’s Hon’ble Health Minister, Shri Surender Singh Negi, Samples Bio-Sand Filtered Water

Lab Studies have shown that BioSand filter Removes:

?98% of bacteria, fecal coliform
?99% of parasites, protozoa and worms
?100% of viruses
?95% of zinc, copper, cadmium and lead
?95% of iron and manganese
?Up to 93% of arsenic with slight modification
Other Benefits of BSF Include:
?Low cost to make or purchase
?No cost to operate
?Life of up to 30 years
?Easy to maintain
?Fabricated using simple local materials
?High flow rate: up to 84 liters/day
Water tastes and looks good!

How the Biosand Filter Works

BSFBio-Sand filters use the bounty of nature to purify water. All-natural materials, such as sand and gravel trap the majority of contaminants, without the need for electricity, expensive parts or regular maintenance.

The filters will be forged by local cooperatives and craftspeople, using techniques that have been honed by field testing worldwide

Watch a Video on How It Works >>

Our Actions

Trainers and participants take the clean water pledge together

Trainers and participants take the clean water pledge together

As the first of many ongoing steps, a five day Biosand Water Filter Training was organized and held at Parmarth Niketan in January 2014, inviting national and international NGOs to learn the art and science of fabricating this simple and efficient water purification system.

To read more about the recent training>>


Q What is it in the water of India that makes people sick?

A We know that water in India and elsewhere contain pathogens, bacteria, viruses, parasites, worms, amoeba and protozoa. They come in different, shapes, sizes and forms such as typhoid, cholera, E. Coli, salmonella and shilgella. Among the viruses there is hepatitis A, jaundice and rotavirus. Especially in the hilly areas water contains cryptosporidium. All these things naturally occur in the water supply and we use a bio-sand water filter supply to remove them using nature’s own processes.

Bio-Sand Filter-Step OneQ How does this filter remove the pathogens?

A The filter is composed of different layers. Starting from the bottom two inches of half inch gravel is placed. Two inches of quarter inch gravel is then placed on top of that. 21 ½ inches of sand is then placed on top. However, this sand must come from a rock quarry or sand quarry if possible. The sand must be thoroughly cleaned and sieved to an exact size of 0.7mm or below. Two inches of dirty water is then poured on top. A diffuser plate with tiny holes is placed above it. The water from the reservoir above will pass through the diffuser plate that allows the water to penetrate evenly. The water reservoir can hold 14L of water at a time.

The process- the water goes through the plate. The ‘new’ water hits the ‘old’ water with the large bacteria (mentioned above). The large bacteria start to eat the small bacteria from the ‘new’ water. Once there are no small bacteria left, the big bacteria start to eat themselves. In this 2 inch layer of water, 80% of the bacteria load is killed. Bodies of the bacteria fall to the top layer of the sand. Here there is a layer of live and dead bacteria that is biologically active. The water then goes through the sand. This sand has sharp points and contains an electrostatic charge. When viruses such as hepatitis A go through those 2 inches they are attracted to that electrostatic charge and grab onto the sand. Because there is no air, light or food for them, 100% of the viruses die right there. As the water goes through the sand, parasites, worms and protozoa can’t get through. The gravel purely keeps the sand out of the tube. The water comes out at one half litres per minute (up to 84 litres a day). This water is up to 98% free of bacteria and viruses and 100% pure of worms, parasites, protozoa and amoeba. Manganese, cadmium, iron and lead are also removed from the water. With slight modifications arsenic can also be removed.

Q How do I know that this is an effective technology?

A The technology is approved by the World Health Organisation. It is being used in 66 countries and being constantly tested. There are many scientific papers that prove the effectiveness of a bio-sand filter. However, the best way to know is through your stomach! After consuming bio-sand filtered water for 3 weeks, you will have no dysentery, diarrhoea or stomach aches.

Q Are there any ongoing maintenance costs?

A lab tests show that the filter will be able to operate for 30 years virtually without any maintenance costs.

Q Does the filter get clogged preventing the water from flowing out?

A It will not get clogged, however after some time the bio-layer would have eaten so much bacteria that the layer on the top of the sand becomes rather thick. You will realise this as the water will come out of the filter slower than usual. You must then remove the diffuser plate and clean it. Disturb the top layer of the sand gently and put the diffuser plate back in. The filter can then be used as normal again.

Q Can I refrigerate the filtered water?

A Yes. However, the bio-sand filter already produces cool water due to its concrete structure and perspiration.

Q How many people in a household can the 84L serve typically?

Answer- For all household purposes the water would provide for 10-12 people. In a school or orphanage, one filter would provide for up to 70 children a day.

Q. What are the maintenance procedures?

A Every few days one can simply use a soft cloth to wipe the output tube. If you have a lot of sediment in your water you can pour it through a cloth first or wait for the sediment to settle at the bottom of your container. Maringa seeds also help in settling out sediment water.

Q Can bio-sand filters themselves prevent all water borne illnesses?

Bio-sand filters deal with the water you are consuming. We encourage community sanitation1780862_376300435846249_1210795444_n and hygiene programmes to be implemented along with the installation of the filter. Simple tasks such as hand washing correctly and talking care of trash further reduce the chances of water borne illnesses. Testing in Kenya showed that wide spread use of the bio-sand filters reduced hospitalisation from water borne illnesses by 45%. However combined with a community hygiene and sanitation programme a reduction of 80% in hospitalisation can be achieved.

Q Can the bio-sand filter handle wastewater?

A You should use the best source of water available to you. It is not designed to take care of wastewater directly. However water from ponds and streams is fine. The filter does not deal with chemical pollution.

Q Can one add bleach powder or activated charcoal into the filter?

A No. This will kill the working bacteria in the bio-layer.

Q Can the filter remove arsenic?

A Yes there is a method for this. Take rusty nails and wrap them in a cloth. Place 2 inches worth and place it on the diffuser plate. When you pour water with arsenic in it, the iron oxide (the rust part of the nails) becomes arsenic oxide. The iron will pass through the filter but the arsenic will stay with the nails. After around two years the nails will have decomposed. Take out the bag, dispose of it carefully and prepare a new bag.

Q Can the filter remove fluoride?

A Not at this time.

Q In terms of material, can the filter be made out of plastic?

A There have been many experiments in this field. Plastic filters are being made, however they degrade quickly in the sun and the plastic can leach into water due to the use of non food-grade plastic. Plastic filters cost twice as much and last less than half as long then one made of cement. Cement filters also have more scientific backing.

The Biosand Filter Initiative is an integral part of the Ganga Action Parivar’s 6T’s (Toilets, Trees, Taps, Trash, Tigers, Tracks) program, which provides a strong foundation for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable Ganga and environment.

To learn more about the 6T’s Programme>>

Click here to download our 6T’s brochure!

***Banner Image: Uttarakhand’s Hon’ble Hon’ble State Minister of Education and Drinking Water, Shri Mantri Prasad Naithani, GAP Founder, GIWA Co-Founder, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Divine Shakti Foundation President, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of SAPWII (America), Dr. Micheal Lipman, Country Coordinator-SAPWII (America), Ms. Shivani Kumar as well as Dr. David Albert, Director of FWFW (America), Mr. Richard Kyambadde, Country Representative –FWFW (Uganda) at the Bio-Sand Water Filter MoU signing