Monday marked the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to help California communities ravaged by the massive wildfires by providing special emergency-response vehicles equipped with a unique water-generating technology.
The GoFundMe.com page established to underwrite the cost of the campaign is headlined: “California Fires -- Bring Drinking Water From Air.”
The response vehicles and generators come courtesy Watergen USA, the pioneer of a water-generation technology first developed in Israel.
The system was originally designed to enable tank crews to get fresh water without exposing themselves to enemy fire outside their armored vehicles or encampments. The device acts like a super dehumidifier that literally filters water out of thin air.
Each 2 GEN-350 Atmospheric Water Generator unit is able to produce about 600 gallons of pristine drinking water daily. The company is supplying two generator-equipped, emergency-response vehicles, plus two other GEN-350 units that could be stationed where needed.
Officials report that fresh drinking water is desperately needed in California to keep firefighters and the general populace hydrated. Whenever a natural disaster wipes out normal utility services and potable water supplies, authorities worry about the spread of contagion due to waterborne contaminants. By filtering water directly from the air, the Watergen system avoids contaminants altogether.
Once its response-vehicles arrive -- it has already coordinated with the Red Cross and FEMA to provide vital relief to communities hit by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Michael -- the Watergen gear will reduce the need for FEMA trucks to ferry in daily pallets of bottled water to a disaster scene. Rather, a continual source of water will be parked at curbside, and residents can refill their own water containers, reducing the environmental impact of disposable water bottles.
Watergen USA President Yehuda Kaploun tells Newsmax: “One of the most important things for people who put their lives on the line and for people who have suffered tremendous loses -- if you want to prevent diseases, you need to have clean water.”
A smaller version of the device for home and office use, “the Genny,” was recently named Best of Innovation Honoree in the “Tech for a Better World” category at the Consumer Technology Association’s “CES Unveiled” show in New York. That device produces 25 to 30 liters of fresh water daily.
There are a couple of unique aspects to the crowdfunding effort to deliver Watergen machines to fire and rescue departments in the affected areas.
“It’s going to be dedicated to police and firefighters in California,” Kaploun says. “We’re going to give them the units -- we’re not owning them. We’re going to give them to police and firefighters to use however they see fit, to make sure that there’s clean drinking water.
“As people come back to an area that’s totally desolate, you can park the truck there and get clean drinking water,” he adds.
Another unique feature: Given the immediate crisis, Watergen USA is “paying it forward” by sending the equipment to California first responders before the crowdfunding campaign runs its course. Kaploun says the equipment is already on its way.
It seeks to raise $300,000. If the goal is met, Watergen USA, the company that designs and sells the water generators, will match the donations with a $300,000 expenditure of its own.
The fire raging in California has already destroyed over 11,000 homes, with a confirmed death toll of 77. A staggering 991 individuals are currently listed as missing, and it may take authorities weeks to determine their fates.
The Watergen system has been touted as a possible solution to global water shortages because it doesn’t depend on a sophisticated utility infrastructure to deliver clean water.
Given the dismal air quality in smoke-shrouded California, it has another benefit as well: As the water is filtered out of the air, the units expel purified air.
“Our byproduct is actually cleaner air,” says Kaploun. “It’s not going to help on a broad, broad scale -- but it will give the first responders a breath of fresh air.”
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