THE MOST INNOVATIVE WAYS OF SAVING WATER
Water is a right, not a privilege, as indicated by the United Nations. We take for granted access to drinking water as if is something that will always be within our reach. However, only 2.5% of Earth´s water is not salty and much of it is hard to access, resulting in at least 1.2 million annually deaths due to unsafe water ingestion. And from the richest part of the world, projects to fight against this unfair situation are emerging.
Currently, 780 million people lack access to safe and clean drinking water, by 2025 this could be up to 3.5 billion people, likely provoking conflicts. Numerous designers and scientists worldwide are trying to be innovative to find out new ways of stopping this scarcity, that will have so many consequences for everyone, either directly or indirectly1.
Diverse projects have come out; objects related to the world of water, such as new versions of bottles (without harmful single-use plastic) that encourage consumers to drink tap water. But it also brings together projects that propose solutions to problems related to it: collect rainwater, extract water from the atmosphere, store it, transport it, filter it, desalinate it, purify it, use it more conscientiously. Some proposals show the necessary ingenuity to suggest ways to use waste materials resulting from the production processes of running water1.
Among these projects, there is the “Aquatecture” rain collector, designed by Shaakira Jasssat. Consists of a panel that can be placed on the facade of buildings (as an integrated building feature) or can be used as an independent element, creating rainwater collection stations. Basically, it can harvest water anywhere, mainly appreciated in the urban environment where space is at a premium.
When integrated with technology, it can harvest moisture from the atmosphere by condensation. It can also be installed as free-standing elements in landscapes, creating water harvesting stations in various nodes throughout cities.
Image 1: “Aquatecture” on a building’s façade. Source: Green Product Award, 2021.
The “Solar Bottle” prototype, by Francisco Gómez Paz and Alberto Meda, which, when exposed to the sun for six hours, destroys the pathogens in the water (that cause diseases such as typhus, dysentery, or cholera), converting the contaminated water into drinkable water. This low-cost container can disinfect water based in the Solar Water Disinfection process SODIS; pathogens are vulnerable to two effects of the sunlight: UV-A radiation and heating by infrared rays. This bottle improves the solar purification process and thanks to it reduced thickness it facilitates both transportation and storage.
Image 2: “Solar Bottle”. Source: Ways Of Working, 2015.
As one of the most outstanding designs, Henry Glogau’s “Solar distiller”. This portable solar water distiller purifies water using solar energy and can be mounted from cheap and readily obtainable local materials in 30 minutes. It consists of a two-layer plastic tarp on top of on an elementary bamboo structure. And with a diameter of 2.4 meters can generate up to 18 liters of purified fresh water per day. Users can access the clean water thanks to the tap below the canopy or store it directly into a tank.
Image 3: “Solar distiller” structure. Source: Dezeen, 2021.
This design is made to help the people who are living in informal settlements. As Glogau said, “with the challenges we will face in the near future, we need resilient and autonomous resource infrastructure for democratised access”, and that is why he “wanted to create a modular system, which can be constructed in different ways or materials based on context and user needs”.
The “Hipporoller”, present in more than 51 countries helps around 600 thousand people carrying heavy 25-liter buckets of water. Transporting these heavy weights several times a day is excessively challenging for the youth, elderly and disabled, and their risk of infection increases every time they visit a water collection point. But thanks to the “Hipporoller” these people can carry up to 90-litres. This roller-bucket is flexible and mobile, making possible carrying heavy weights with little effort.
Image 4: “Hipporoller” contribution to the poorest society. Source: Hipporoller, 2022.
The “Jerry can filter” is another good example. This easy to use, cheap, maintenance-free, small water filter “combines an excellent ease of use with innovative membrane filter technology to provide safe drinking water in places of need”, as the own company defines it.
Image 5: The “Jerry can filter” in actual use. Source: Jerry, 2022.
In conclusion, unsafe water is one of the world’s largest health problems, especially for the poorest. Proper water treatment, that can be as easy as shown during this article, can prevent 1.2 million deaths per year. There are many emergent projects wanting the funding and attention they deserve to solve this increasing issue. Now is time to make them succeed.
CentroCentro. March 18, 2022. Propuestas desde el diseño para afrontar el reto de la gestión del agua. [online] Available at: https://www.centrocentro.org/centrocentro/prensa/propuestas-desde-el-diseno-para-afrontar-el-reto-de-la-gestion-del-agua
World Health Organization. June 18, 2019. 1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water – UNICEF, WHO. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/18-06-2019-1-in-3-people-globally-do-not-have-access-to-safe-drinking-water-unicef-who
Green Product Award. 2021. Green concept award – Green concepts 2021. [online] Available at: https://www.gp-award.com/en/produkte/aquatecture
Ways of Working (WOW). November 30, 2015. Discover anthropodesign. [online] Available at: https://wow-webmagazine.com/anthropodesign-a-design-for-mankind-and-environment
J. Hahn. June 27, 2021. Henry Glogau wins Lexus Design Award with Portable Solar Distiller for informal settlements. Dezeen. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/06/27/henry-glogau-solar-water-distiller-lexus-design-award/
Hipporoller Organization. 2022. You can’t sanitise what you can’t WASH. The Hippo Roller’s Role in The Midst Of The COVID-19 Pandemic. [online] Available at: < https://hipporoller.org/>
Jerry – the jerrycan waterfilter. 2022. Meet JERRY:The jerrycan water filter. [online] Available at: https://jerrycanfilter.com/
H. Ritchie and M. Roser. June 2021. Unsafe water is a leading risk factor for death. Our World in Data. [online] Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/water-access#unsafe-water-is-a-leading-risk-factor-for-death