Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, February 26, 2015



If you talk to Californians today about their concerns these days, one worry is one every one's mind: THE DROUGHT. Not a drop of precipitation fell in San Francisco in January, adding more woe to a vicious three year cycle. But it's not just the Golden State with problems. In Brazil, São Paulo is currently turning off the faucets three days a week. Meanwhile, Aussies have long had water rationing as a way of life. However, one desert city is solving its water worries using nothing but air: Lima, Peru gets water from fog.

Here's how it works: Thick mesh is stretched out over a large rectangle frame made by bamboo and metal rods. At the bottom, you'll find plastic gutters which drain into a bio-filter. Finally, water is collected into giant, one thousand liter tanks. It's simple, effective and energy-efficient. Boy, does Lima need water. It's the exact opposite of the damp Amazonian rain forests which are hundreds of miles away. Peru's capital receives a mere two inches of rain a year. It is the world's second largest desert metropolis...behind Cairo.

"The water is crystalline," explains Lima resident Abel Cruz. "Just don't drink it." It's true: Fog Water is not potable. But you sure can use it for the other 95% of the city's water needs. Agriculture, cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, light industry...you name it. Free water is also liberating for the poor of Lima. Normally, they spend six soles ($2.50) for 100 liters of water. This is a large percentage of income that has been freed up for the poor.

But what impressed us most about this story here at the DUNER BLOG is the simple fact that the Peruvians are planning for the future. There are three river that flow through the sprawling capital: The Chillion, Rimac and Lurin Rivers. These are fed almost entirely from Andean tropical glaciers, which are melting at an accelerated rate. Faced with this dire reality, Peruvians looked elsewhere for answers.  They found a way to exploit the 97% air humidity that blows in from the Pacific every day.

It's not just Peru that is using this valuable resource. Around the globe, thirsty nations are turning to Fog Catchers to supplement water supply. You'll find them in South Africa, Yemen, Morocco and Guatemala. Unfortunately, they will likely never work in drought-plagued California. See, the black mesh is unsightly, and will disfigure local landscapes. They are placed near the shore, where property values are high. While Californians are thirsty, keeping up appearances is still more important!

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