HOW DRINKABLE IS THE WATER THAT WE DRINK?
Although access to clean water is a basic human right, billions of people are deprived of these needs. More than a quarter of the world’s population, 2.1 billion people, haven’t had access to clean water.
Starting from the very foundations of our school and its environment, we are facing the problem of potable water in the world; but how drinkable is our school water? How can we be sure that our school water is drinkable?
“Clean Water and Sanitation”, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, questions this very point.
What is Sustainable Development?
Planning for the conscious use of natural resources without harming them is known as sustainable development. In short, we concluded that it means production without endangering the lives of other living things. We examined the role of schools in achieving the goal of “Clean Water and Sanitation”. We got help from Volkan Özen, the Administrative Supervisor of our school. He gave us information ab out the school’s plumbing system.
In our interview with Mr. Volkan, we learned that the fountain water of the school passes through iron pipes and rusts, but that the water dispenser pipes we use are PPRC pipes, that is, a type of plastic pipe made from a mixture of polypropylene and copolymers. These pipes are widely used in heating and cooling systems, as well as in plumbing and piping systems for the transport of drinking water. We learned that these pipes are preferred because they do not rust like iron pipes and are therefore healthier. According to Drilling Engineer Aslı Sezgin, iron pipes are healthier than plastic pipes. While iron pipes are made of pure iron, plastic pipes go through a lot of processes.”. Despite this, he explained the reason for choosing plastic pipes in our school as follows: “No matter how much we use a purifier to make the water in the iron pipe drinkable, if the life of the pipe ends, corrosion begins, and health problems arise.” said. In addition, while the life of iron pipes is twenty-five years, the life of PPRC plastic pipes is at least fifty years. This, aside from protecting the environment, is more economically sustainable. It is written on these pipes how many degrees and how many bars they are resistant to pressure. In this way, we can understand what we will use the pipe for. In addition to these, our Administrative Supervisor Volkan Özen said, “For safety, UV rays (Ultraviolet) are used in the drinking water tank in the cafeteria.” provided information.
How and How Often Is Water Quality Measured?
The quality of water is measured with a TDS meter. TDS meter is a device that displays the amount of harmful substances in water and the total dissolved solids of a solution. In our school, analysis is done every six months, but as cases such as diarrhea and vomiting increase, it is very important to do a test again for precautionary purposes.
“After the interview, what about the plumbing system of other schools the same as ours?” question appeared. When we asked Sevde Zehra Toker teacher at Rıza Dikmen Primary Public School, one of our friend schools in the Mucur district of Kırşehir, about this issue, she said that the students brought their own water. She said that when their water ran out, they told their teachers or staff about this, and they directed the students to the tap water. We have understood from an example so close to us that most people do not have access to clean water and students in public schools usually use tap water that comes from iron pipes.
No More Iron Pipes!
Iron pipes have been commonly used for water installations for many years, but they can pose certain risks to human health and the environment. Here are some potential harms associated with iron pipes.
Firstly, iron pipes are prone to rust and corrosion over time, which can lead to leaks and contamination of the water supply with rust particles, metals, and minerals. Secondly, iron pipes provide a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria, such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. Thirdly, iron pipes can also pose health risks if they contain lead or other harmful substances that can leach into the water supply. Lead exposure can lead to developmental problems in children, and long-term exposure to other contaminants can cause various health issues. In summary, while iron pipes have been used for many years, they can pose risks to human health and the environment.
One solution to the damages caused by iron pipes in water installations is to replace them with alternative materials such as PPRC plastic pipes. Mr. Volkan said that Plastic pipes are less prone to
Replacing iron pipes with plastic may involve some initial cost, but it can lead to significant long-term savings and benefits, both in terms of health and environmental impact. Regular maintenance of the plumbing system, including periodic cleaning and flushing, can also help to mitigate the risks associated with iron pipes.
Being a Third World Country…
Although the concept of third world countries is used with different meanings, it is mostly used as underdeveloped or developing countries. We have chosen India, which meets these criteria, and our topic is accessibility to clean water. Almost a quarter of the country’s population (330 million) suffers from drought, lack of food and water. Due to the mismanagement of water resources and poverty in India, which has been suffering from water shortages for many years, 77 million people do not have access to clean water.
Renovating plumbing is expensive and long-term solutions. Easy-to-install water treatment systems, which are usually found in private schools, should be provided in all schools. Water purification and sanitation is the right of every child. Children do not have to buy water to access drinking water or drink water from iron pipes.
VOLKAN ÖZEN – Administrative Supervisor
ASLI SEZGİN – Drilling Engineer
SEVDE ZEHRA TOKER – Rıza Dikmen Primary Public-School Class Teacher
METU DF ANKARA SCHOOLS YOUNG REPORTERS TEAM
The United Nations World Development Report (2009), Water in a Changing World, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
The United Nations World Development Report (2012), Water for People, Water for Life, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
TMMOB (2008), 2007 Su Raporu, http://www.yapi.com.tr/ HaberDosyalari/Detay_suyun-metalasmasi-suya-erisimhakki-ve-sosyaladalet_828.html? HaberID=63424, (21.09.2010).
UNESCO (2011), Water Ethics and Water resorces Management, Ethics and Climate Changes in Asia and The Pacific Project, Bangkok.