Guest post by Jon Kaufman, Director of H2OpenDoors
I first imagined our project while on a treadmill at a gym in Redwood City five years ago. As I’m cooling down and drinking water from a single use bottle, I wondered what my doppelganger was doing in rural Haiti, or Nicaragua, or Guatemala or Mexico, or Nepal. How was he getting his water and how far was he traveling to do it?
Surprisingly, low income populations in rural areas do have access to safe drinking water. But it often costs them one third of their $1.50 per day income for less than one liter. 80% of the bottled water comes from four multinational corporations. The poorest among us have no reasonable alternative other than spending a third of what they earn every day on a basic human need. Last year, Mexico become the world’s largest consumer of bottled water per capita. The United States, by contrast, is eighth…and we have lots of alternatives.
So, H2OpenDoors was born on a treadmill out of a need for rural areas in developing nations to have access to clean safe drinking water. We set out on a research mission to find the very best technology that would enable villages and schools in the developing world to produce their own high quality water from local contaminated sources. We closed in on the SunSpring Hybrid, manufactured in Colorado. After 18 installations in 6 countries, I am convinced it was the right decision. The technology had to meet several requirements:
- Had to be off the grid, no electricity or fuel required to run and maintain the water source.
- I wanted to remove the bacteria and viruses from the water, not just kill them. That meant it had to involve membrane technology.
- It had to be able to filter a ton of water. Actually 20 tons. The SunSpring can produce 20,000 liters of water every single day. That’s enough to provide 10,000 people with 2 full liters of safe drinking water every day, or about twice the quantity of water I drink every day in California.
- With this kind of capacity, small water sales businesses could be established. We’ve seen them established, with the help from local Rotary clubs in these far-flung regions. Significant revenue can be raised for school nutrition programs, classroom expansions, college scholarship funds.
H2OpenDoors relies heavily on the support of volunteers. We love bringing groups and students on our installation expedition trips. We spend two days doing the work of installation and training, and then we go explore the country, immerse ourselves in the culture, climb a volcano or go on a trek. This month, 14 of us will be travelling to Nicaragua for a crucial SunSpring install at a very remote hospital. Then we’re off to the beaches and colonial towns. We’ll even spend an afternoon with kids in a center for rehabilitation of Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome.
We have worked closely with Causely over the last four years and together we have provided over 47 million gallons of clean, safe drinking water to people in need. Keep checking in this month, we’ve got some SunSpring systems to install!
Stay in touch at H2OpenDoors.org and on Facebook.