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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baguio and Bontoc for national election weekend

Dea and I received a two night gift certificate at The Manor at Camp John Hay in Baguio so the three day weekend (Monday was a national holiday for voting) and a filter to install up beyond Baguio in The Mountain Province capital city of Bontoc called us in that direction.
The infamous Brent Fish Pond Biosand filter had been de-commissioned and was donated to Nick, who had a strong interest in it and actually drank Biosand filtered fish pond water with me. Some of his family living in Bontoc really needed clean drinking water.

Some other things also came together that were helpful. Kurt, Brent Media Center director needed some library material sent up to Brent Baguio so the truck used to haul that was used to carry the 150 pound concrete Biosand filter and another 50 pounds or so of sand and gravel for the filter innards. One of his media center employees, Joseph, agreed to be our driver since his family lives in Baguio, and thus got free transportation home (free - but he had to work for it. He drove the 150 miles and that took 7 hours.)

We left Brentville 5:30AM Saturday morning, drove through Manila 20 miles to our north, and connected with the North Luzon Expressway. That got us to Tarlac, the city where , after changing to the SCTEX, where we were about two-thirds of the way. Then the two lane congested more agonizing part began. But it wasn't too bad except for the miriad of political parades with blaring PA systems trying last minute attempt to woo voters in this first ever automated electronic election scheduled for Monday.

We arrived at Camp John Hay about 12:30PM and got settled into our room.

Dea brought along her report cards to finish up so she would have something to do while I went off the next morning with Nick and some friends and family who hitched a ride home to Bontoc to vote Monday. So it was 9 people and a Biosand filter in a pickup truck driving/riding over 90 miles of very twisty, winding, narrow, but very scenic road through Benguet Province to Bontoc capital of The Mountain Province. The mountains and terraced farms in this region provide a large share of the vegatables for Luzon. Let me tell you, looking at the steep hill sides sliced into zillions of flat narrow terraces make farming look like a pretty tough job. But we do enjoy the results.

I left Camp John Hay 6:30AM leaving Dea behind to do her report cards and settled in for a 90 mile 7 hour ride to Bontoc. The plan (I thought anyway) was to drive up, install the filter and return to Baguio by evening. I think it could have been accomplished but for ........ Oh well, I got to spend the night in Bontoc and it was much better to be on those roads in the daylight. Parachutes could have been issued as safety equipment. A big pat on the back to Nick who did a very good job of driving it but after all it was his home territory. That left me free to look out the window and take it all in. The view actually reminded me of the Colorado mountains except for the terraces. Don't see those in Colorado.

I'll add a bit more later..... Stay tuned but in the meantime there are more pictures here. Also some of the same but more here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Drinking the Brent Fish Pond Water

I just finished talking to the third grade classes about Dr. David Manz's invention, the BioSand Filter. Toward the end of the time I drank a full glass of the water as it came out of the filter.

The filter has been in place by the fish pond for two weeks giving the 'bio layer' time to develop.

I had three glasses setting on the table up front along with a plastic bottle that looked like a purchased half liter of drinking water. The plastic bottle had been rescued from the trash and filled from the fish pond and actually looked pretty clear.

After I introduced myself (most of them knew me anyway) I exclaimed "Watch this", and I took the first glass and filled it by dipping it into the fish pond. I then asked which they would drink, from the glass they saw me fill from the pond or from the plastic drinking water bottle (which also had the same water though they didn't know). Of course they chose the plastic bottle. "Why" I asked. "Because it is cleaner" they unanimously responded. Later, just before I drank the filtered water I told them the plastic bottle was filled from the fish pond same as the first glass.

To make a more significant visual point about the filters ability, and I felt it was helpful since the fish pond water was pretty clear, before dumping the bucket of fishy water into the filter I added a handfull of dirt. So the water actually dumped into the top of the filter was muddy looking. A second glass was filled from that water so they could see that the filter would remove such sediment. The water coming out of the filter was crystal clear and had no discernable taste. I filled the third glass with filtered water and drank.

Ask me in 8 hours or so, if in fact it was actually pathogen free, at least enough for my immune system.

An interesting time with a bunch of interested third graders.

And now they know that:

1) over one billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water
2) over 4000 people die every day because of disease caused by water born illness
3) there is an invention that is simple, elegant, accessible and affordable that can provide virtually pathogen free drinking water
4) Bill Davis drank water from the Brent fish pond

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dry Season Made Wet! etc...

Craig featured a picture of me on the most recent (March 8, 2010) Palawan Project Foundation (PPF). See it here. Check it out.

On Mar 26th Dea and I will be heading to Palawan with Craig and Margaret. It will be Dea's first trip there so looking forward to that. She will be there for the duration of her Easter break and I will stay on with Craig for about two more weeks. That will make it my longest stay. Hoping not to get an infection this time.

I am also preparing to speak to the four Brent School Manila third grade classes about the BioSand Filter Invention. For this I have installed a real live operational BSF in the school atrium adjacent to the fish pond. I have been preparing the BSF for this event in which I will drink water from the fish pond which I will pour through the filter. Since I survived the strep/staph infection in my leg I'm going to try something else. No I don't have a death wish. Rather I trust the BSF invention and will demonstrate it's effectiveness in this way.

The Deputy Headmaster has offered to have an ambulance on sight and ready to go. Instead or along with that I requested the presence of President Gloria, TV live coverage, and our neighbor - world boxing champ Manny Pacquaio to participate (just kidding on requesting all of that - but it was a thought).

Manny Pacquaio

Friday, February 19, 2010

Brooke's point Palawan and water projects

With lots of helping hands the Ram Pump installation has been improved to boost the water delivery to Baliun's needy farm from a barely useful trickle to 720 gallons per day then another adjustment Thursday jumped that up to over 3500 gallons. He was able to get his thirsty corn watered and even got baths for the kids. All kinds of progress. Thursday as we were leaving for the day he turned to me and said a very touching 'Thank You - Mission Accomplished'. That was really the icing on the cake. Something I've taken for granted all of my life is so needed and appreciated.

I'll be here for another week and I do believe it will continue to be busy. Tomorrow (Sat) we will add a line to the pump output to share some of Baliuns 3500 gallons per day with his daughters in-laws across the river. He was excited about that. We will pick up three 100 meter rolls of PVC and some fittings and valves to accomplish that.

Then Sunday morning early Craig and I will set off for the south west side of Palawan and look at the suitability of another Ram Pump installation. Now that we've done one we think we can do anything. I certainly have learned a lot. Before Christmas I don't think I could even spell Ram Pump. Now look!

Water - whether its for drinking or watering the farm to feed the family and earn a living it is life giving.

I'll try to add some pictures in the near future.

Thanks for reading this and thinking of me in this endeavor. It is appreciated.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bill at play while Dea works. Doesn't seem fair!

It's Friday morning and I awakened once again at the Duchess Pension in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Shortly Craig and I will head out for breakfast at Bruno's, pick up a couple of bio sand filters at PCC and head on down the road to Brooke's point. (OOps the power just went off so lost internet connectivity and aircon).

Guess I better get this post published now that it's up again. Maybe can add some more later.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arrived Palawan

Zest Airways flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa arrived without incident though I'll have to admit I did not read the 'How to' document provided with directions on operating the emergency exit which I was in charge of on this scantily filled flight. My bad!

And there's a rumor I did have an electronic device running during the flight that provided accurate positional information along with speed and direction information (which I find entertaining). It also alerted me to various islands that we passed over as we traversed the South China Sea.

Once again we are spending the night in the Duchess Pension, ate dinner at Bruno's and picked up some foodstuffs for the ten day experience. Tomorrow we'll make a few stops one of which is to pick up 5 BioSand filters before heading for Brooke's Point about a 4 1/2 hour ride south.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Palawan again and other thoughts

Sorry it has been so long since I've posted but time and noteworthy events and just 'who cares anyway' type of excuses make it easy to say I'll do it later.

The most eminent noteworthy event is that I (Bill) leave for Palawan an a few hours. I leave with Craig Sutherland to help again with the Palawan Drinking Water Project. I traveled there the first time the end of Sept 2009 to help install some BioSand Filters (BSF) and that led to me traveling to Calgary for a Nov 2009 CAWST workshop (very productive) to learn more and also have the privelege to have dinner with the inventor of the filter. Dr. Manz's website provides oodles of first rate information upon which I refer to often

There is also another idea in the pipeline (pun intended) in which I hope to lend technical expertise - Hydraulic Ram Pump. Lots of info on this mature technology on the web so click on that link if you want to learn more. Basically it is a water pump that allows lifting water from its source to over 100 meters higher yet uses no source of power other than that from the source water itself. The hope at this stage is to determine the suitability of using a ram pump to move water up the mountain for farming. This would be a great boost to crop production for these mountain people. And into the future I also have a three week trip to Palawan with Craig in March and April. Dea may go with us on that trip as it is her Easter Holiday break.

I will try to post when I can from the internet cafe in Brookes Point Palawan as I get time.

Hope it will not be so long this time. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Calgary at CAWST

It is nearly 3AM Sunday morning as I write this.

I arrived here in Calgary on schedule having left Manila during the height of the recent typhoon (Sat 8:20AM). I left Brentville in the dark with the wind howling and the rain pouring down. Had to detour around several downed trees just getting out of our 'not sheltered from the storm' subdivision.

Why would I even try to catch a Jumbo Jet during a typhoon? Well a couple of reasons come to mind. First, I wanted to go as I anticipated attending an interesting workshop in Calgary Canada. Second, both the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Northwest Airlines web sites listed my scheduled flight as on time and not cancelled. Archie my driver carefully drove north along the South Luzon Expressway toward Manila. About half of the way to the airport the rain all but ceased and the wind abated. I took that as a good sign but still somewhat expected to find NW 280 had been cancelled only after making the trek.

Typhoon Mininae (also called Santi) was also visiting NAIA though it had just that morning been downgraded from a category 1 typhoon to a tropical storm. That means the sustained winds could have dropped from 74 to 73 MPH.

My flight did leave and the 747 was airborn with only a one hour delay. At the Narita Japan airport they held the connecting flight for Philippine stragglers and I virtually walked off one plane and onto the other. There are some advantages to close connections. I've never really enjoyed the layover there. It put me a half hour late into Seattle where I had to clear customs and catch a twin engine turbo-prop to Calgary. But that transition went smoothly so here I am.

I was picked up by Sanjay my gracious host who has opened his home to me for the week. Certainly a man of hospitality. He was willing to take in a stranger as a favor to Craig who he had only met once on a plane flight this past summer. And he introduced me to rugby. Not as in playing it but as in watching it on the tube. There was a sort of 'super bowl' class game being played in South Africa which we enjoyed? with some of his friends who were having a sort of tail gate party. And there were lots of good South African goodies to munch on. It brought back memories of watching my first hockey game about 25 years ago in Edmonton in which I had great difficulty following the puck.

I had taken steps to 'acclimate' myself to the time difference with the intent of minimizing jetlag and though I did sleep soundly for about four hours I was just done sleeping at 2:30AM - so here I am. I am an early riser anyway.

The workshop begins Monday at the CAWST office here in Calgary. I'll keep you posted. All I can say about it now is that for one to travel from tropical Philippines durng a typhoon to Calgary this time of year you gotta have sand - Biosand that is. I escaped the last typhoon there by going with Craig to Palawan. He 'cawst' this!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Samaritan's Purse Canada & BioSand Filter

Samaritian's Purse in Canada has done a lot with the BioSand Filter and I found they have several good videos and even one that's titled "How it Works". See it here.

Please note: My recent trip to Palawan was in no way connected with Samaritan's Purse. Rather they have been doing this for sometime and have produced some videos etc that do an excellent job of explaining it. I went to help Craig and the Palawan Project . The filter is one and the same but was manufactured by the PCC in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan using their form.
The Samaritan Purse "The BioSand Filter: In Depth" page says this:

BioSand Water Filters

In Depth

The BioSand Water Filter is an adaptation of slow-sand filtration that is designed for use by families at the household level. This award-winning water filtration technology was developed by Dr. David Manz, a former University of Calgary professor.

The filters are a proven, effective, and inexpensive technology. From start to finish the filters can be constructed in roughly 10 days, at an average cost of $100, which covers the raw materials, construction, transportation, supervision, training for the family in filter maintenance and personal hygiene, as well as monitoring and evaluation.

The filter removes organisms responsible for diseases spread by water, such as cholera, typhoid fever, and amoebic dysentery. The filter also strains out particles causing cloudiness, and much of the organic matter responsible for taste, colour, and odour.

One of the UN Millennium Development Goals is to reduce, by half, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation by the year 2015. Samaritan’s Purse is helping make this possible. Already more than 104,000 BioSand Water Filters have been installed, bringing safe water to an estimated 832,000 individuals worldwide.
The Filtration Process

The filter is very durable, constructed from concrete, sand, gravel, and PVC piping. These materials can be found in almost every country and enable community members to help construct the filters on location.

Water is poured into the top of the filter and flows down through sand. Water that requires filtration usually contains various types of organic matter, sediment, and living organisms. The water first passes through the diffuser plate, which reduces the disruptive force of the input water and large debris, and protects a delicate biological layer. The filter sand functions as a physical barrier that traps particles and larger organisms, causing them to accumulate in the uppermost layers of the filter. Organic material and organisms caught in the sand eventually develop into a dense population referred to as the biological layer, or schmutzdecke.

As the water passes through the biological layer, microbial contaminants such as parasites, bacteria, viruses, and organic contaminants are consumed by the organisms. The filter is designed to hold water above the top of the sand to sustain the biological layer while the filter water is not in use. This provides the constant aquatic environment that is necessary for the organisms present in the biological layer to survive.

The fine sand acts as a microscopic sedimentation bed as the water passes through the filter, helping remove cloudiness, odour, taste, and harmful micro-organisms from the water. The size and shape of the sand grains are critical to the formation of the biological layer and therefore the effectiveness of the filter. Sand is specifically selected and prepared to achieve proper filtration. By the time the water reaches the layers of coarse sand and gravel at the bottom of the filter, 95 to 99.0 per cent of microbial contaminants have been eliminated by the BioSand Water Filter.1

The filtered water flows out of the spout and is collected in a safe storage container to prevent post-treatment contamination. The average flow rate of the filter is one litre per minute, which allows for 60 litres to be filtered per hour, enough to provide a family of eight with sufficient water for their daily drinking, cooking, cleaning, and hygiene needs. An individual requires a minimum of 7.5 – 15 litres of water per day for basic needs2, which is well within the capabilities of the BioSand Water Filter.


As the filter is used, the biological layer matures and thickens, causing the flow of water through the filter to slow. Recipients of filters are trained to watch for decreased flow and can renew the filter simply by skimming off any debris from the top of the sand, and by gently stirring the sand to break-up the biological layer. The quality of source water will determine how often this process is necessary.

1.Elliot et al., 2006. Intermittently operated slow sand filtration for point of use water treatment. Safe Drinking Water Symposium, University of North Carolina.

2.The Sphere Project, 2004, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hey! Tell me more about this BioSand Filter

I thought you'd never ask. And even if you didn't I'm going to tell you anyway!
A concrete box about 12" square and 1 Meter high with 3 layers of sand and gravel, a difusion plate and a lid. Designed so it can be easily made virtually any place in the world.
And look what it is touted to do.
I drank from one for the duration of my stay in Brooke's Point.
Click on the pictures to enlarge.
For more information see: Dr. Manz - Inventor, CAWST
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Installation of BSF #2 & #3

This little guy should be drinking safe clean water by now.

And these as well. Both filters were installed on Monday Sept 26, 2009

Check out BSF #2 & BSF #3

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Water Filters in Palawan

It's been over four months since I've added an update to my blog. So I'm finally getting to it.

I just returned from a ten day trip to Palawan

where I had the opportunity to help Craig Sutherland install seven BioSand Water Filters
for several tribal villages living in the foothills of southern Palawan. There I am helping Wilson wash sand.

The filters were made in Puerto Princesa, Palawan by the Palawan Conservation Corp. Here's a couple of the guys showing me the form they use to make them.

I have also put up several pictures on a web album that you can see at

Friday, May 15, 2009

The finished speakers

I completed the speakers and delivered them to Michael today. Here's a couple of shots of the finished product.
Front (Well duh)

Good view showing the dovetail joints.

Wow! The back even looks OK.

Here they are at Michael's place. You can't tell it from the picture but we were listening to them and they sound pretty good.

And Michael showing proper affection for his Narra speakers.

A fun woodworking project and my first using Narra.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Narra Speaker enclosures by Bill

Thought I'd show a bit of what has been occupying me (Bill) of late. No, not mountain biking again - though that is still in there but a bit reduced due to another pull at my time. Woodworking!

I am building a pair of speaker enclosures for a teacher here at Brent. They are made from the treasured national tree of the Philippines - Narra. Click on the links if you want to know more than you wanted to know about the species Pterocarpus indicus.

Here is a couple of pictures taken after the first coat of lacquer was sprayed just last Friday. I'm not sure why I am always so surprised when I get to experience how the finish makes the grain pop to life, but it surely does.

Here is a shot taken before the finish was applied.

Since Narra is a protected species due to over harvesting I purchased some reclaimed wood which, I believe is quite old, and was rescued siding from an old building. It started out pretty ugly!

And so it took a bit of work to see its striking beauty show through. First - Sandpaper.... It helped but a ways to go yet.

Then hammer, chisel and pliers to remove these....

(Old reclaimed wood remember.)

Glad I didn't try running it through my thickness planer before checking. Even with the above metal being removed there is still several pieces left in the finished cabinets - I hope without any future bad news to be reported (but let me know Mike as it features my full, unqualified, 'Tail-Light Guarantee*).

After a bit of layout work and some careful cutting etc.,

I ended up with this pile of boards.

I used my Akeda rig to machine dovetail joints.

Then glue and clamps.

Did I design these enclosures? Nope. Though I dabbled in that in bygone days (Heath Co 1967-1973), I cannot take any credit for this design. Rather it is a copy of Mike's current speaker cabinets. Here's a picture of them side-by-side. (Hint - the particle board one is on the left and the Narra on the right.)

What do you bet he switches back to the original cabinet when he gets to his next post?

* -Tail-Light Guarantee - When my tail lights are out of sight the warantee has expired!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Corregidor Island

Dea and I with Keith & Ginny Edwards posing before a mural of the Filipino-American War

Keith Edwards was here in PI from California doing some teaching and we were fortunate that he and Ginny took some time off from adjusting to the time change and teaching to take a trip with us to the historic Corregidor Island. It sits at the mouth of Manila Bay and Saturday morning we took the 1hr 15 minute ferry ride out there. You are welcome to look through my web album displaying many of the sites. click on:

Dea pointing the ways to Tokyo and Sydney.

Dea, Bill & Ginny after the Malinta Tunnel Sound and Light Show.

Dea and I with Douglas.

Also added some of our pictures to my Facebook.