Scottsdale nonprofit launches clean-water initiative for World Water Day

Clean Water Foundation Cambodia tower (submitted photo)

Planet Water Foundation Cambodia tower (submitted photo)

On World Water Day, March 22, Scottsdale-based nonprofit Planet Water Foundation, one of the leading non-profit organizations focused on bringing clean water to the world’s most disadvantaged communities, will install 24 clean water filtration systems, known as AquaTowers, that will supply the daily drinking water requirements in 24 communities across five countries – in just 24 hours.

According to a 2014 update from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 748 million, or roughly one in ten people worldwide live without access to clean water every day. In many areas of the world, including communities in the Asia Pacific region and Latin America, where Planet Water Foundation focuses its work, the percentage of those lacking access to potable water is much greater, according to a press release.

In an effort to draw attention to the world’s growing water poverty crisis, Planet Water’s “Project 24” initiative will deploy 24 of its signature green technology AquaTowers in just 24 hours – an ambitious plan, as one system typically takes a full day to construct and commission, the release stated. In relay-style fashion with teams in five countries, project deployments will begin at midnight U.S. Eastern Daylight Time, constructing one AquaTower sequentially every hour, on the hour, in communities across Cambodia, Colombia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

In cooperation with Arizona State University and Arizona PBS, Project 24 will be featured as a one-hour special to air at 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on digital 8.3 PBS World, Cox cable Channel 88 and streamed live on Planet Water’s website at www.planet-water.org. The show will feature AquaTower installations from projects while illuminating the stories of community members and the impact clean, safe water will have on their lives.

Each AquaTower produces up to 10,000 liters of clean, safe drinking water every day – enough to support the needs of 1,000 people, or the size of a typical rural village in impoverished communities. Superior to well water, AquaTowers remove bacteria, protozoa, viruses, pathogens and other contaminants that make people sick to produce safe drinking water that meets World Health Organization standards. The drinking water is accessed through nine faucets positioned around the tower, which are also used for hand washing. According to the World Health Organization, improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene can prevent at least 9.1 percent of the global burden of disease, and 6.3 percent of all deaths, the release stated.

“Having access to clean water is often times something we take for granted in the U.S.,” stated Mark Steele, founder and CEO of Planet Water Foundation, in the release. “Installation of these AquaTowers solves many problems that face these communities in all parts of the world. Providing clean water allows young girls the opportunity to go to school when they would often spend their entire day gathering water for their families. We can help reduce the estimated yearly 500,000 dehydration deaths caused by diarrhea from contaminated water.”

A vital part of Planet Water’s solution, the non-profit also implements water-health and hygiene education programs into the schools and communities where it deploys AquaTowers. These child-friendly, activity-based programs teach children and their caregivers about germs, how they spread, proper hand washing, bathing and tooth brushing.

Each Project 24 AquaTower project costs $15,000 to deploy, which also includes five years of post-project sustainability support, water quality monitoring, and implementation of the water-health and hygiene education program, the release stated. AquaTower projects are typically sponsored by companies that are committed to corporate and social responsibility around water and hygiene education initiatives such as Xylem, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Capital One.

Individuals in the U.S. can support the foundation’s work by purchasing Planet Water’s electrolyte-enhanced bottled water that is available at a number of leading retailers such as Sprouts, Hi-Health, AJ’s Fine Foods, and Bucky’s among many others. Each bottle purchased supports the clean, safe water needs of a child for an entire month. Individual donations are also accepted on the foundation’s website.

Since 2009, Planet Water has deployed nearly 700 projects, bringing clean water to more than 700,000 people across 12 countries through partnerships with organizations such as JP Morgan, Xylem, Levi & Strauss, Timberland, and Habitat for Humanity.

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