By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
KIMBALL, WV – Before a regular food distribution on Saturday, November 16th, 2019, Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank was happy to showcase a new project utilizing the power of the sun to harvest clean drinking water from the air.
“I’m very excited to be able to provide some clean water for McDowell County,” said Five Loaves Director Linda McKinney. “I call myself the Guinea Pig, because I don’t really know how it works, but we’ve been able to extract amazing water that you are about to taste. Once this gets up a running, we will be able to provide everyone that comes to the Food Bank with clean water. We have been provided, paid for and more on the way.”
The project was made possible by support from ZERO MASS Water, DIGDEEP, and the One2One Foundation, with representatives present at Saturday’s unveiling.
SOURCE technology, produced by ZERO MASS Water, is a complete off-grid and self-contained hydropanel system that creates fresh drinking water from just sunlight and air. Using advanced water capture technology, a standard SOURCE system replaces more than a twelve-pack and up to a twenty-pack of bottled water on a sunny day.
Annie Lasko flew in from Los Angeles, CA on behalf of DIGDEEP, explaining the human rights organization’s mission.
“We think its wrong for anyone in America to not have clean running water,” said Lasko. “We believe that water is a human right for everyone and we’re invested in making sure that communities like yours, that everyone has clean running water. We also want to ensure it meets the need of the communities, that it’s thoughtful, that the community can manage it and that these systems last forever.”
Lasko said it was a honor to partner with Five Loaves and Two Fishes and the resilient community of McDowell County.
Scott Krase of the One2One Foundation traveled with his family from New York to speak at Saturday’s event as well.
“We were thrilled to partner with Dig Deep and Zero Mass to make this project a reality,” said Crais. “We funded the project and wish we could have done more. We ran out of land, quite frankly.”
Krase highlighted the Foundation’s work to address the 2 million Americans without clean water across the country.
“We flew out here today because you have to see it. They look a little alienesque sitting by the road way, but these things don’t require any electricity. It’s reliable, sustainable, it’s going to be here for 15 to 20 years, hopefully more,” said Krase. “Our goal is to make a really big dent in this Clean Water Access problem. People really don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to believe that the United States of America has a clean water problem, but we do.”
Collin Goddard, of ZERO MASS Water spoke about the development of the hydropanel system.
“I’ve read a lot about the water challenges in this area. I know about it in writing, I’ve talked to some of you about your own stories and it is incredibly heartbreaking, the challenges you have to go through,” said Goddard. “You all should have clean drinking water like you deserve.”
Goddard said he understood the challenge of suffering from water access issues while humanity advances in so many other areas, like mobile technology today.
“Everyone is talking on their cellphones now, yet when it comes to drinking water, we’re still working in the Roman era,” said Goddard. “We wait for rain to fall and snow to melt, to go into rivers, to go under the ground to get pulled into a treatment plant to get chemicals thrown in it and then sent out through a network of pipes.”
The problem is that issues can occur with each of those factors, all leading in a end result that isn’t safe for consumption.
“That was why (ZERO MASS) was created and why this technology was invented. We said there has to be a better way to give people drinking water exactly where they need it. We do that with a hydropanel,” said Goddard.
Behind him sat 24 hydropanels aimed to catch the sun’s path throughout the day.
“They take the natural moisture and the humidity in the air and convert it into liquid drinking water using nothing but the power of the sun,” said Goddard. “There’s no electrical cords plugging into these, no water connection plugging in. We’re not touching their electricity and water bills here. These things are making nice clean water every day under their own power.”
Goddard insisted the self-contained system would continue to produce water regardless of power outages or water main interruptions.
“Even in 2021, when Virginia Tech plays WVU and wins, these things will still make water. I’m a Hoakie, please don’t hold that against me,” said Goddard, getting a laugh out of the crowd.
“This is a small array. It will not solve all the problems in the community. We hope this can be a demonstration to everyone about what is possible,” said Goddard. “Technologies like this and solutions like Dig Deep and One to One partnering with people on the ground like Bob and Linda, these are the partnerships that can make things different.”
Afterwards, guests were invited to taste water produced by the hydro panel system as well as ask questions. The project is nearing completion at Five Loaves and Two Fishes, but still requires a building to house the water collection jugs.