Waste to Health- turning pollution into resources
Cleaning Ganga
Lead Article
Lead Poster


Conversion of Sea-water
What is 'Clean'?
Sanitation in Human Habitation
Salt Remediation Honoured

Another View of Sanitation & Health


Use of Saline and Brackish Water for Food Production

1. Introduction:

The terms saline and brackish water refer to the total dissolved salt (TDS) content of water. Fresh water has TDS less than 1,000 ppm. Brackish water refers to salt content within1,000-5,000 ppm. Saline water has salt content within 15,000-30,000 ppm. and sea water has salt content within 30,000-40,000 ppm. 98 percent of surface water on the earth is in the form of sea water and this adds salinity to the groundwater near the coast, a process known as groundwater intrusion. There is increasing salinity in inland groundwater due to wrong agricultural practices using agrochemicals. In many tracts of Maharashtra, the groundwater is is now, unfit for human use and for agriculture. This problem is of global magnitude and people are trying out various costly techniques of making such water usable because of acute shortage of sweet water. This paper presents a novel eco-friendly method of converting saline water into sweet water, without any recurring charges, using a catalyst called BioSanitizer.

2. Understanding the Root Cause:

To solve a problem, one has to understand the root cause of the problem. One has to ask several "why" questions. Why is the sea salty? Why is the “Dead Sea” near Israel several times saltier(we can float on it without getting drowned)? Why do we use salt in our diet? Why extra salt makes food unpalatable? Why groundwater salinity and soil salinity is a modern phenomenon in areas where excessive use of chemical fertilizers killed the soil life? Why the coconut water is so much relishing though the coconut plant grows near the sea? Why a dose of salts is recommended if coconut is to be grown in good quality soil in the inland areas? Why the thorny prosopis trees abound in the salt-affected areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and elsewhere? Why certain crops are salt tolerant? Why some are more tolerant than others?

After doing such thinking for about forty years, Dr Uday Bhawalkar discovered a natural way to turn saline and brackish water into sweet water, using BioSanitizer. The actual chemistry cannot be described here, but it has been around us for about 600 million years and hence without any side-effects. Right now we can start using the technique to solve the water scarcity problem and also to convert salt into an asset, in a more convenient and faster way.

Without this eco-friendly way to solve the ecological problems, modern man has been developing only the separation technologies such as distillation, ion exchange, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, etc. These involve heavy capital investment as well as recurring charges and also produce a concentrated stream that poses higher disposal problems. If it is disposed on the soil or in the rivers/lakes, it spoils water resources. The treatment costs are in the range of 10-200 Rs/m3 (depending upon the initial salt level) for 1 MLD plant. The economics get spoiled for the small plants and getting the funds becomes a problem for the large plants. We need a technology that is viable and attractive at both small as well as large scale.

Treatment of saline soils, too, is often attempted without the "root-cause" approach. Focus is laid on leaching of the salts from the soil, only to spoil the groundwater. The BioSanitizer converts the salts into a form that converts them into plant nutrients and human food(like the coconut water), making saline water a potential resource for man, as food, fertilizer or fuel. The logic of this research is described in detail at the website http://www.biosanitizer.com/.

Obviously, some plants know how to use the salts for their nutrition. While thorny plants like prosopis(gand babul, as known in Gujarat) and palm trees can use salts readily, food crops can utilize the salts only if available in dilute form. An example in everyday practice is similar and can be used to understand the phenomenon. While a 1,000 Rs note is acceptable in big shops, you are respected in a local bus only if you have money in 10 or 20 Rs notes form. If somebody in the bus opts to give us a change, without charging a heavy commission, there is no problem. BioSanitizer action is similar. It converts the high salt level into multiple bundles of small salt levels and now every plant can use this "bundled or quantumized" saline water. One can now grow even the food crops and improve the soil while doing this, without using chemical fertilizers. 

Right now, BioSanitizer can be used up to about 5,000 ppm salinity and further development is on to make it work at higher levels, up to the sea water’s salinity. It can also potentially be used to solve the fluoride, arsenic(or other heavy metals) contamination in the groundwater or even to tackle the radioactive contamination in groundwater or in the soils and crops.

3. Success Achieved:

BioSanitizer has been successfully used to treat brackish groundwater and salt-affected soils in several tracts of Maharashtra. The method involves putting a single charge of BioSanitizer catalyst, about 1 gram per well/bore well. Within a day, he can notice the sweet water with his tongue. Tongue and other human senses are more sensitive than man-made instruments and the problem has been perceived by man with the help of tongue and eyes(salt layer on the soil). Thus a farmer can judge the BioSanitizer action without sophisticated instruments. Moreover, we do not yet understand the salt chemistry to be able to do the measurements and judge. Coconut water has about 3,000 ppm salt content, yet is palatable to the tongue and useful to the body. BioSanitizer action cannot be judged by drop in the TDS or in the electrical conductivity of water. The drop may not be significant in some cases.

When BioSanitizer-treated water is used for irrigation, the soil improves its quality automatically. The crops grow healthy without any doses of chemical or organic fertilizers. 

4. Conclusion:

Conventional approach of treating the saline soils and saline water cannot solve the problem in totality. We need a root-cause approach. BioSanitizer is an eco-friendly product that is a result of about forty years of eco-friendly research. This methodology has been found to be effective for solving the water quality problems. It can also potentially be used to solve several other natural problems such as droughts, floods, cyclones and earthquakes.

Mr. Uday Bhawalka









Bhawalkar Ecological Research Institute (BERI).
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