Safe, Healthy and/or Sustainable Water
Caminos de Agua believes that all people should have access to safe and healthy drinking water. We create low cost, high impact solutions to achieve our goal. But what is the difference between safe drinking water and healthy drinking water? What about sustainable water? Learn everything about these water terms here!
Safe water is free of harmful bacteria, pathogens, virus, and other biological contaminants that can cause immediate harm to consumers. Waterborne pathogens are the leading cause of water related illness (~1.5 billion people/year) and death (~3.4 million people/year) around the globe.
Caminos de Agua produces a low-cost, highly effective ceramic water filter locally as a safe water solution. These filters have been tested and certified by the state and National Water Authorities (CONAGUA) as well as various independent labs and universities. Our ceramic water filters eliminate more than 99.9999% of bacteria, pathogens and turbidity. Our filters are extremely easy to use and require minimal maintenance.
Healthy water is free of heavy metals and harmful minerals (like arsenic, fluoride, and lead) as well as synthetic chemicals (i.e. from agricultural or pharmaceutical runoff, industrial processes, etc.). Unhealthy water can cause long-term health complications. The Independence Watershed is in a permanent state of decline due to over-extraction of groundwater resources by commercial agriculture. This water decline is not only making water more scarce, but it is also concentrating levels of naturally occurring metals and minerals to toxic levels, specifically arsenic and fluoride, in community drinking wells. In fact, arsenic and fluoride are found as high as 9 and 15 times World Health Organization recommendations respectively. This toxic cocktail is known to cause dental fluorosis in children and crippling skeletal fluorosis, developmental disabilities, skin lesions, organ failure, and cancer among longer term consumers.
Caminos de Agua partners with international organizations and universities to develop low-cost solutions for eliminating arsenic and fluoride from drinking water. Currently we have a research team which is focused on the research and development of our water filtration media for arsenic and fluoride mitigation, using biochar.
Sustainable water comes from a water source that does not interrupt the natural hydraulic cycle and helps improve natural water sources and processes. Sustainable water does not come from overexploiting aquifers for agriculture in a region not suited for such production, nor does it come from diverting entire rivers to supply a growing city. Instead, sustainable water sources focus on harvesting the rain that falls from the sky or responsibly extracting - while simultaneously recharging - groundwater resources. The use of sustainable water sources ensure that aquifers, rivers, lakes, streams - all of our most precious freshwater resources that we depend on to survive - will not be depleted over time. Extracting less water from underground aquifers than can be recharged by natural processes, promoting infiltration of rainwater into those underground aquifers through micro-watersheds, and harvesting rainwater off of your own roof are all effective examples of the use of sustainable water. Rainwater harvesting, especially, represents an inexpensive, easy to use, and sustainable water solution for local communities which can be used both actively and passively.
Active rainwater harvesting systems separate and store only enough water to meet individual needs, and - given their design - improve our understanding of personal water consumption and promote sustainable water use in the home by lessening our tendency to waste our precious water resources. Passive rainwater systems can help cool the planet - especially cities - through the promotion of micro-watersheds that create shade and joy in a concrete jungle. Passive systems also promote infiltration of rainwater back into the ground, promoting healthy aquifers and even rivers, streams, and other surface water sources. Further, harvesting rainwater gives people control over their own water resources, making us less dependent on underground aquifers that are unsustainably exploited beyond our control. Besides, rainwater is already a healthy water source - inherently free of harmful metals, minerals, and chemicals!
Caminos de Agua has taken the classic 12,000 liter ferrocement rainwater storage cistern and added new innovations to improve water quality, such as a first flush system. We provide capacity training and materials for these systems, while local communities provide all of the labor - allowing us to increase our impact upwards of 400%. Caminos de Agua also focuses on small-scale, household systems, which utilize prefabricated cisterns, often with integrated filtration, as a way for families to invest in and scale-up systems over time. When rainwater harvesting systems are combined with biological treatment - such as our ceramic water filters - local communities gain access to safe, healthy, and sustainable water!