It is well known that one can survive without food for a few weeks however without water, not more than 3 days. More than half of our body is made of water.
Kerala has the most number of wells per sq.km. It is the highest in the whole world. More than 80% of the people depend on well water for their daily use including drinking. However this is changing because of the piped water supply by Kerala Water Authority a govt organization formed in 1984 head office based in Trivandrum. Please contact them through their website for queries. Website link
But is the Water really good to Drink in today’s time?
I pretty much drink un-boiled well-water from almost any part of Kerala except towns and cities.
Issue is with some random cases of e-coli samples located in few wells and couple of other issues like.
- Burial Ground: If the well is near a burial ground where bodies are not charred then there is a chance of decomposed oily appearance above the water.
- Septic Tanks: Septic tanks should be at least 15meters away from the well.
- Dumping Ground: If there is large scale waste dumping in the vicinity, water will get contaminated.
- Industries: If there are any large industries like coir, fertilizer and other chemical units then along with rain water everything dissolves and mixes with the well water.
Some Inexpensive ways to Purifier Drinking & Well Water.
- Cultivate Fish: When I used to visit my village until couple of years back I could find fishes and frogs inside the well. Note that frogs urinate 😛 not sure about fishes. However there was a reason for fishes and frogs in the well, they would consume the insects and other mud which accumulates in the well over a period of time. Most wells would have kaichal and cheer meen.
- Amala Heart Wood (Nelli Palaka): In Kerala, most wells are built using laterite stones. In some, just the base part is bolstered using laterite and in others, it’s used all the way up. The strength of the surrounding soil is considered when making this choice. Many old wells use the Heart wood of Indian Gooseberry tree in the base area. This not just cools the water but the Gooseberry wood also has tremendous medicinal qualities. This wood never corrodes in water.
- Charred Coconut Shell: Activated charcoal commonly used nowadays for certain type of poison treatment, water purification and in many other industrial uses. Reason is simple; 1 gram of activated charcoal has more than 1500 square meter of surface area. Because of its adsorption quality, it helps in trapping impurities. Charred coconut shell would be tied in a muslin cloth or mesh cloth and dipped inside the well water for few days. This practice was prevalent in Kerala and would be done once in every few months.
- Kinar le Koova (Arrowroot of the well): This plant has almost disappeared from many villages and older generation people also don’t know about it, except a few. This is a type of aquatic arrowroot which floats in the water with stem, tuber and has fibrous roots. Roots attract most type of residue, also there was a recent study published about it that it controls and kills e-coli.
I am planning to get a plant soon. If you are looking for one you may drop me a mail.
- Moringa tree: Drumstick trees are said to draw toxins and store it in the stem. Many traditional wells have moringa tree planted close. Read more about toxin accumulation in Drumstick trees.
- Alum: Alum also helps in killing germs and it also attracts residue which otherwise would float on the water.
- Sunlight: It’s essential that well water, or any drinking water for that matter, sees sunlight. UV rays kill bacteria and I also believe it charges water which can help synthesis Vitamin D. Sunlight gives water life. Make sure to draw water manually daily and not always use a motor.
- Protect the top: Ensure that nothing falls into the well easily by constructing at least a 3 foot high wall on the well and also cover it with a net.
- Clean you water tanks: Make sure you clean your overhead water tanks once in six months. Most of the ones I have noticed in Kerala are in horrible condition.
- Copper Vessel & Boiling: Before buying an expensive water purifier, please don’t forget the basics – boil and cool! If you are lazy then purchase good quality copper vessel; it does wonders. Copper ions help in killing the germs and also charging up the water.
- Laterite stone, sand and other soil structure aids in purifying the ground water.
- Stagnation: If you don’t draw water directly from the well and always use pumps for water, there will be residual settlement above the water; which is not good. You need to pull and give life to water. Moving water is always better the stagnant.
- Bleach: Never use bleach (Chlorine) at least in your drinking water. Some might be thinking it is harmless, but I doubt it when it can kill bacteria, insects and vegetation so easily. Water is absorbed deep inside our stomach linings which are delicate. Studies have proven too much of chlorine corrodes even teeth enamel (the hardest substance in the human body). So be cautions when using bleach.
- Septic tanks: Avoid wells near septic tanks or build multi layer advanced septic tanks.
- Plastic or rubber buckets: Use a good steel bucket to draw water instead of rubber buckets.
- Rope: Plastic rope will fray and wither after couple of months. This will fall in the well water which is highly undesirable. Invest in a good quality coir rope instead.
- Wells near river: Its is found that wells near river are generally contaminated.
Cheru maram: It’s is Malabar folk knowledge that nothing beats the tree roots of cherumaram in filtering and cleansing water. It is also said to be endemic to Western Ghats of India. It is also popularly known as Black Varnish Tree and scientifically known as Holigarna arnottiana, I personally like to call it the crazy Itch tree.
This tree is so notorious that even most tree hackers are reluctant to cut it. Some people are so sensitive that they will encounter severe itching and blistering lasting anywhere from a couple of days to weeks from merely passing under it.
When you cut this tree or if you pluck a leaf it starts oozing white colored sap which is the real culprit, never touch it! It will slowly burn anything it touches be it skin, hair or other trees around.
Everything on this planet has it’s use. So all you Malayalees next time you see this tree being chopped please pass on the info.
There is hardly any data online about this tree. Also make sure when in wild if you are unsure of the tree and fruits avoid eating fruit as this tree has some attractive ripe fruits just like grapes. Below mentioned link have few good images of the tree.
Employee professionals to pump out all the well water and clean any debris once in 3 to 4 years.
How to Stop Rain Water Run-off in Kerala
This is a much debated topic in Kerala. All the rain water goes in the drain.
One has to see the kind of muddy water runoff during monsoon to really believe the scale of soil erosion. It was never like this couple of years back.
Kerala receives 3000 mm of rainfall in just 120 days.
If you observe there will be no muddy or water runoff in ever green forest, only in rare occasions are there land-slides in deep valleys.
I have observed muddy water runoff even in my land until a few years ago. Now after I started live and other dried mulching, I am surprised to see that absolutely no water comes down, every drop of water is absorbed in our land.
Trees store, accumulate and release water unlike modern ditch rain water harvesting, which is wrong in my opinion, at least in Kerala.
Kerala is very advanced in almost every aspect of life. Be it farming, medicine and house construction, even with traditional technology. One of the primary reasons is availability of clean and pure water anywhere. You dig a well and you get clean and clear water.
Hills in Kerala are known as Thannir Kudam(water pots – water keeps coming down from hills) and deep inside the valley as Thannir Thadagam(water reservoir – where all the water gets accumulated and filtered down to the underground aquifer). So when you demolish a hill and fill a paddy field you are not just destroying the landscape but also destroying drinking water sources.