Clean Water Project Kicks Off In Rural West Virginia

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  • New water-generating Hydropanels installed at community food bank to provide clean drinking water and offset the use of single-use plastic bottled water
  • Project is the result of a unique partnership between a nonprofit, a WASH organization, and a tech startup

Newly installed water-generating Hydropanels are finally providing residents of rural McDowell County, West Virginia with a more reliable source of clean drinking water.

The “Hydropanels” were unveiled at a community event on Saturday, November 16, where residents got the first chance to sample clean drinking water produced using solar power and air.

Water insecurity is an often overlooked but pervasive problem in the U.S. Today, more than 2 million Americans do not have basic access to running water or flush toilets. Millions more can’t get water that is safe enough to drink. In rural West Virginia, economic shifts and the environmental effects from decades of coal mining have compromised local water access, leading to frequent boil advisories and system failures, forcing residents in some low-income areas to purchase expensive bottled water or even to drink from unregulated road-side springs.

Hydropanels, developed by Zero Mass Water, are a new technology that make clean water from air and sunlight. The Hydropanels installed in West Virginia are the result of a partnership between one2one USA Foundation, DigDeep, and Zero Mass Water. Three organizations with different missions—a charitable foundation, the country’s only WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) organization, and a for-profit company—came together to spearhead this project. In the course of conducting research on regions of the U.S. without water and sanitation access, DigDeep identified this West Virginia town where Zero Mass Water’s technology, funded by one2one USA’s directed philanthropy, could bring clean, reliable drinking to the community. Once successful, the trio of organizations hopes to replicate this model in marginalized communities across the country.

More on the Kimball, West Virginia water project:
The Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank (5L&2F) of Kimball, West Virginia is at the heart of efforts to provide clean water to local residents. Each month, the small, locally-run food bank serves nearly 150 families from across McDowell County, and bottled water is always among the most commonly requested items. Bottled water is expensive and generates troubling amounts of plastic waste in an area with no recycling program.

“We’re excited to be the first community in West Virginia with Hydropanels that can provide a safe and renewable drinking water supply that we own right at the Food Bank,” said Linda McKinney from five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank, “We’re eager to see other communities embark on this path towards a future where clean water is produced where it is needed most”

In the course of producing the first national report on water and sanitation access in the U.S., DigDeep identified the food bank as a good location to install Zero Mass Water’s new Hydropanels and contributed a third of the funding required for the technology. The Hydropanels are an efficient solution for an area without reliable water and power—no electricity is required to produce the water, and the process creates no waste.

But while the Hydropanels are an ideal solution in McDowell County, the purchase and installation cost would have been insurmountable for the rural community without additional assistance. To make the project a reality, the community partnered with one2one USA Foundation, a new nonprofit with a unique model that allows individual donors to develop and fund programs they care about. Donors worked through one2one to provide the additional two-thirds of funding needed to purchase and install the Hydropanels. Each month, the 24 Hydropanels will create up to 3,600 liters (950 gallons) of clean water.

“This project is the perfect example of how donors are now able to provide direct access to clean water in a way that is customizable, transparent and impactful,” said Scott Krase, founder of one2one USA. “one2one, in partnership with Zero Mass Water, is committed to making an impact on the water insecurity problem not just in Kimball, West Virginia, but in many similar communities across the United States. We truly believe we have a charitable solution that is economical, long-lasting and eco-friendly.”

“Water issues throughout this region are really common. It’s happening in our own backyards and McDowell County is a perfect example of how our infrastructures and resources are failing us,” said Colin Goddard, Director of Business Development at Zero Mass Water. “These issues are only getting worse so it’s time to make sure that every person, in every place – no matter the location or demographic – has access to water that is not only safe to drink, but that doesn’t deplete natural resources. We can turn to technology, which has solved so many of our problems, and invest the time, energy and funds needed in order to put them into practice at scale.”

George McGraw, Founder and CEO of DigDeep said, “Over the past few years, DigDeep has brought running water to hundreds of families on the Navajo Nation, but now we’ve learned this hardship is shared by millions of Americans across the country. When most Americans think of life without clean, running water they think of low-income countries, but this is happening in our own backyard. We’re so excited to leverage new technologies and new partnerships to close the Water Access Gap in America, once and for all.”

About the organizations:
About one2one USA:
one2one USA Foundation transforms the existing charity model by connecting individuals directly with those in need in a customizable, transparent and impactful way. one2one is the only charitable giving organization which directly connects donors with their recipients, fostering meaningful relationships for both parties. one2one enables donors to give based on causes that inspire them and has created a donation process that is transparent from beginning to end. one2one’s hope is to create a community of active donors who, by helping one person at a time, will collectively improve countless lives.

About Zero Mass Water:
Zero Mass Water’s mission is to make drinking water an unlimited resource. SOURCE is a Hydropanel that creates drinking water simply from sunlight and air – made possible by the combination of thermodynamics, materials science and controls technology. Zero Mass Water puts the power of safe, high-quality water production into the hands of every person in nearly every climate and corner of the world. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Zero Mass Water operates all over the globe. For more information, visit zeromasswater.com.

About Dig Deep
DigDeep is a human rights nonprofit working to ensure that every American has access to clean, running water forever and the only WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) organization operating in the United States. Since its founding in 2012, DigDeep has brought water and sanitation systems to thousands of individuals across the country. DigDeep is the winner of the 2018 US Water Prize for its Navajo Water Project, which has brought running water to hundreds of indigenous families in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

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