What do you like about Moerk Water?
I like that they are working closely with Pacific countries and I share their vision and mission: provide clean water for the remote countries and island communities. I want to continue to work with Moerk to extend the vision and to bring the technology to Solomon Islands.
What is the project you are working on in the workshop, the topic of your master’s thesis?
I’m working with the RO100SW desalination plant, because it is suitable for my country. Solomon Islands is a tropical country, with plenty of sun and I am sure that this plant is most suitable for my country. That is why I chose it for my studies. I am doing analyses of the quality of the product water and the sustainability of the plant. I am covering several steps to study the optimisation of the unit: 1. Pre-treatment removal quality 2. Permeate quality 3. Membrane efficiency 4. Forward osmosis membrane cleaning
What skills have you gained while working at Moerk Water?
I gained knowledge and skills beyond my project. In working with the equipment, I am gaining knowledge about water treatment in general and learning about international projects. Like going with Moerk to Solomon Islands, participating in the conference in Vanuatu. It is important to learn about the on-the-ground work, learning about the issues and problems with water treatment and finding solutions to bring clean water to the islands.
What is your target when you go back to Solomon Islands?
I want to continue to work cooperate with Moerk so that they come to Solomon Islands. Everything in Solomon’s is politics. So, when I’m in Solomon I want to ensure that everyone in the country will have access to clean water! That is my goal! Seawater desalination for the atolls and nanofiltration or ultrafiltration for the groundwater. I want to contribute. In Solomon Islands we need to determine what type of treatment we need. I will make sure that the quality of the raw water is professionally analysed and from that we can work to customise the machines. This will also save expenses in the long run, we have to do it properly and to know what kind of plant we need for the water.
What are the issues in Solomon Islands?
There is a gap in Solomon Island, for a long time no proper water quality analyses have been made. We have big water treatment plants on the main island, but the people are missing the step of water analysis first. The raw water quality is often not specified first. They don’t realise what the function should be. The big plants make the people sceptical and when there are issues, there are no spare parts on the Islands. That is why many people don’t trust in desalination anymore. Moerk Water is very good because they are much more flexible. They adjust the machine according to the specific needs, because they do an assessment first and then customise the machines, but they also do modifications and are flexible when for example the water turns out to not be that salty, they adapt the technology and make sure to get spare and wear parts locally. Overall their higher goal is to give the people clean water.
What is the perspective of the people in Solomon Island on water?
In Solomon Islands people saw water as a blessing and as free, on the main Islands they saw it as a gift from God. Nobody really talked about water and nobody would accuse you of using too much. But that is in the past. Now, because of the population increase, the climate is changing, and a lot of water intensive agriculture is contaminating the water, people start to move to the coastal side and they see that water is important. People are looking for solutions. Mainly in rural areas, because outside of Honiara there is no proper water treatment. They drink it but it is not healthy. I want to bring solutions for treating sea water and we can solve it step by step. In the rural areas and the atolls there is no electricity and most of the people live near the coast. For them the affordable solar-powered reverse osmosis plant is ideal – desalination is very promising for these islands. For the main island, they need a water purification machine because the water is not salty – it is contaminated groundwater. So what we need on Solomon Island are seawater RO machines for the rural areas and atolls and purification units for the main islands – then we can give clean and safe water for everyone! When I’m back in Solomons I can push for a sustainable solution that will cover everyone. The problem is that the government is not collecting data about the population, they do not make proper assessments. They don’t know how many are still without water, they just assume. When I go back, I will work to make precise assessments of the actual water needs. From that we can go on and we can achieve the UN Sustainable Development SDG 6 Water for everyone.
What are your take aways from working here at Moerk Water?
Yes, what I learned here that is the foundation to achieve the target and to build skills, capacity and abilities to bring the solutions to Solomon Island. It is important to study desalination otherwise you cannot make decisions for your country about what kind of desalination you need. We need to educate people about desalination to make them trust in the technology.
How is it to work with the team at Moerk Water?
First of all, it is a blessing for me that Martin and Barbara accepted me. I cannot say more because words cannot do it justice, but thanks to God. It is great to work here and to work with experts it is a great team spirit and I love to work with them. We are working closely together, and I learn a lot by helping out. I can join them anytime. Learning by doing is the best way to learn. They teach me directly and it is beyond the topic of my thesis, I learn for life here. Especially Martin, he is an expert in everything, he encourages me to work and gives me hints. He is not giving me the answers but showing ways on finding the answers. I learn from this way of problem solving. “Not giving the fish to the person but giving the hook and the string.” In the future I would like to continue to work with Moerk Water, train locals back home to manage the desalination units.