A white paper outlining possible solutions for increasing access to safe drinking water in the rural areas of the world was issued by the Global Innovation Imperatives (Gii) program, administered by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of International Activities. Although focused on the community of Chocontá, in Colombia, the suggested solutions have broader application.
Chocontá residents rely on rural aqueducts for their water, but supplies are vulnerable to pollution from nearby agriculture and largely go untreated. City officials asked ACS, the world's largest scientific society, to help solve the problem, noting that the solutions likely would apply to other areas of the country and possibly the world.
"The recommendations in this report should solve local problems but could be easily replicated elsewhere," said Francisco Gomez, assistant director of the ACS Office of International Activities. "If other areas in the region have this same problem, there is a good probability that the recommendations will offer solutions."
Gii's mission is to solve global challenges such as increasing access to safe drinking water and ensuring food security, Gomez explained. The approach involves bringing together experts within ACS, as well as other scientific societies and nongovernmental organizations, to share knowledge and expertise and propose innovative solutions — essentially building a community around a problem.
To produce the Chocontá report, ACS partnered with the Colombian Society of Chemical Sciences (SOCOLQUIM), the Brazilian Chemical Society and the Latin American Federation of Chemical Associations, along with experts from the U.S. Geological Survey and Conservación Internacional. The team conducted field visits to work toward the goal of providing clean water for all residents of the community.
The recommendations in the new report came out of discussions at the International Forum on Sustainable Conservation of Water Sources & Basins & Operation of Sidewalk Aqueducts of Chocontá, which was held in Bogotá, Colombia, in October 2012.
This is the second report issued by Gii. Its first white paper outlined recommendations for sustainable and cost-effective solutions to water quality challenges in India.
Gii's next forum, scheduled to take place later this year, will address water scarcity in a community in the south of Brazil. A white paper with recommendations will follow.