Innovative water filtration cleans up water for Kibera and California

Water is not only the essence of life, but it is also the essence of Kibera Town Centre. It flows through all of our basic services: clean water, toilets, and laundry. We are so excited to have our own source of clean water and even more excited about our creative recycle/re-use system that was developed just for Kibera Town Centre’s wastewater. We are proud to pilot this system because we think it can be useful in so many areas around the world. 

This wastewater recycling system uses shredded and twisted plastic water bottles to filter water. Sewage water has naturally occurring pathogen-eating bacteria, which means given enough surface area for this bacteria to collect, sewage water can clean itself. The surface area of shredded plastic bottles provides the perfect high surface area needed for bacteria to collect. It’s a great way to recycle the massive amount of plastic bottles that litter Kenya.

In fact, the students at Brookhouse School collected 10,000 used plastic bottles at their school in just the past year. Students first made art out of the bottles they plan to donate to the Kibera Town Centre wastewaster system in order to help raise awareness. With creative thinking, even simple objects can have many lives!

The art is just one of the ways Brookhouse School is trying to spread word about the filtration system. Five Brookhouse students recently won a place at the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions (POPS) Youth Summit in California. The students gave a presentation about how they are helping the Human Needs Project recycle plastic bottles through this filtration system.

We didn't just plunk this wastewater system into Kibera and expect it to work. UC Davis scientists helped us test the plastic bottle part of it at a busy rest stop near Sacramento, Dunnigan rest stop on Highway 5, for two years before we put it in Kibera. With four years of drought pressuring water resources in the state, any way to reuse water in California makes a difference.

Of course, the Kibera wastewater management system involves more that plastic bottles. It also has a series of sand filters set in different configurations as well as chlorination at the end.  The most innovative piece of our wastewater management system is not each component, but how successful we can be recycling water by putting these components together in a new way. A filtration system that was created to address poverty abroad is also making a difference on our home turf. Let’s keep the benefits coming!