With an escalating trend of Ebola, the need for potable water at hospitals, especially emergency treatment units, is very important. Concerns are also emerging from internal Ebola Task Force meetings and the wider WASH environment on contamination possibility of ground water sources. In the wake of such fear, discussions are ongoing to in the international spheres on equipping emergency treatment centres with safe water to overcome the spreading risks of Ebola.

In an “open memo on Ebola and water”, Dr. Peter Gleick says medical facilities must have a supply of fresh water that is adequate in flow volume and quality. This requirement, he added, must be reliably supplied in advance of facility construction or placement.

Few studies have assessed average water use by hospitals; fewer have done this assessment for emergency field isolation units or rural medical units. Larger hospitals are reported to use between 40 to 350 gallons per patient per day whereas fewer have done this assessment for emergency field isolation. While these data suggest that emergency minimum water supply volumes on the order of 150 to 200 liters per person per day might be sufficient, a lot of it comes from ground water sources in most of Sierra Leone’s hospitals.

Assuredly, Dr. Gleick says though “water sources can include…groundwater/aquifers… But the availability of these options is highly locally specific, and no general recommendation can be made without knowledge of the site to be chosen for a treatment facility. It is thus vital that early and fast assessments be conducted of available water sources (including both quantity and quality)”. An experienced water well drilling team, too, together with sufficient engineering expertise to install the necessary pumping and treatment infrastructure is crucial.

Dr. Peter Gleick is a scientist, innovator, and communicator on global water, environment, and climate issues. He co-founded and leads the Pacific Institute in Oakland – an independent non-governmental organization addressing the connections between the environment and global sustainability.