Today is World Water Day. March 22nd has been observed as such since 1993.
Water is special. I grew up in India, and even though I lived in big cities, the availability of clean drinking water was not a given. I saw first hand the direct suffering that lack of potable water brought with it, and the direct and indirect costs of this lack — the health effects, the effect on infant mortality, the loss of productivity.
I’ve been interested in this problem for some time. My wife and I have done some small things to help, like donating water pumps here and there, and letting people know about organizations such as Water 1st International (http://www.water1st.org/). Water 1st is a Seattle-based organization which has a holistic approach to the problem, looking not just at water but also at related issues such as sanitation and health education.
When I see all the money thrown at bottled water and home/office water purification systems, I feel anguished thinking about ways that money could help more people than are helped today. I’m interested in technological approaches to purifying water, and one thing in particular I like is Dean Kamen‘s Slingshot, a high-efficiency distillation and condensation based solution.
“Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water,” says Kamen (http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/16/technology/business2_futureboy0216/index.htm). The purifier makes 1,000 liters of clean water a day. It runs off of an electric generator powered by a variety of fuel sources including cow manure. India has a history of using manure for home cooking etc — see articles on gobar gas such as http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/1971-11-01/Gobar-Gas.aspx , so that was not new for me. But Slingshot is exciting — the distillation takes care not just of viruses and protozoa but also metallic impurities which are par for the course in certain geographies.
This year, I resolve to do something direct and useful to tackle the water problem — maybe in a small way, but hey I will start on it. I haven’t seen recent news on Slingshot, and would like to hear from anyone with more info. Also, if you know of other good water-related causes, please let me know, add a comment. Thanks !
Meanwhile, check out news from the world about World Water Day at http://www.evri.com/event/world-day-for-water-0x148667.
- World Water Day: 8 Ways To Get Involved (huffingtonpost.com)