Stories tagged clean drinking water

Oct
19
2010

WaterWater
WaterWaterCourtesy Leigha Horton
Ever been on a beach (and I’m talking a real beach that rests alongside an ocean, not some piddly lakeshore)…AHEM, as I was saying - ever been on a beach when someone nearby sighs aloud, “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink?”

I have, and have always found the thought astounding. How is it that our world can have so much water and somehow not figure out how to make it drinkable via efficient means, and at the same time saddle up a populace with something as advanced as the iPhone?

And just so you know, over 70% of the Earth is water, and of that 70%, over 96% of it is salt water from our oceans. Salt water that is totally unsuitable for drinking. (Who’s thirsty? MEEEEE!)

Now don’t get me wrong, desalination methods exist in the world – they’re just not very efficient yet, using boatloads of energy for very little final, useable product.

Until now.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, High-Tech Cures for Water Shortages, NanoH20, Inc. is harnessing the power of reverse osmosis using nanoparticles. Turns out these nanoparticles “attract water and reject salts and other particles that can clog other membranes, reducing the energy needed to push water through the membrane.” That’s pretty awesome. California, with its entire west coast on the Pacific Ocean, could stop fighting with Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada over rights to the Colorado River water.

And since NanoH20 is based in southern California, which presently gets most of its drinking water piped in from the dwindling Colorado River, I trust them in taking this whole useable-water-thing seriously.

Waterworks: How lucky we are: Clean water is not readily accessible for most of India's populations.  Finding a way to bring the life-giving stuff to Indians is half the purpose of the upcoming 2010 Acara challenge.  (The other half is bringing much-needed clean cooking fuel to India.)  Come check it out for yourself!
Waterworks: How lucky we are: Clean water is not readily accessible for most of India's populations. Finding a way to bring the life-giving stuff to Indians is half the purpose of the upcoming 2010 Acara challenge. (The other half is bringing much-needed clean cooking fuel to India.) Come check it out for yourself!Courtesy laszlo-photo (Flickr)

"So what?" C'mon, peeps! This is cool: eight teams from around the world are competing to launch businesses that will bring clean energy and water to India. Right here! In our backyard! You can watch the business plan presentations yourself this Monday, May 17th at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment (Seminar Room 380, VoTech Building, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN). Check out the press release or Acara website for more details.

Dec
08
2006

One of the greatest threats to public health these days, especially in developing countries, is poor water quality. Everyone needs water to live, right? But if that water isn’t clean, it can lead to a ton of health problems. Some estimates figure that 6,000 people die each day due to health complications from drinking poor water.

How it works: A Rotary Club member demonstrates the simple way a LifeStraw works. Put it in your mouth and simply suck up safe drinking water. The device can help prevent up to 6,000 deaths a day due to poor quality drinking water.
How it works: A Rotary Club member demonstrates the simple way a LifeStraw works. Put it in your mouth and simply suck up safe drinking water. The device can help prevent up to 6,000 deaths a day due to poor quality drinking water.

Solving big problems usually takes big solutions. But a Swiss weaving company have developed an easy, low-cost way to get around the problems of drinking impure water. It’s developed a device called LifeStraw.

It’s a portable water purifying system. People can wear a LifeStraw around their neck and use it to safely slurp up surface water from just about any natural location. The ten-inch-long tube contains a series of fabric filters inside. Those filters can screen out nearly all micro organisms that carry water-borne diseases, including diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and choler. The filters are fine enough to screen out particles that are up to 15 micorns small.

The makers of LifeStraw say their product can last for about a year until it needs to be replaced, processing about 700 liters of water in its life time. That averages out to about two liters a day, the size of a large soda pop bottle.

There is some minimal maintenance required with a LifeStraw. Users occasionally need to blow out their last gulp of water plus some air through the straw to clean out the filters and any silt or mud that may get drawn into the straw.

What’s really remarkable about this is the price tag for LifeStraw. Each device costs $3. But you’re not going to find them on the shelves of Wal-Mart, Target or a grocery store.

LifeStraw’s parent company, Vestergaard Frandsen sells LifeStraws in bulk quantities to charitable groups who then get them to needy areas of the world through service projects. Rotary Clubs in Great Britain are among the biggest participants in the LifeStraw distribution effort.

More information on how to get involved in distributing LifeStraws is available at the organization’s website: www.lifestraw.com