We strategically partner with cross-sector organizations to tackle water issues around the world, with a goal of providing greater access to clean safe water to the people who need it most. It is estimated that only 30-50% of water projects in developing countries are functioning at any given time. As a leading water technology company, Pentair strives to understand the root causes of this failure rate, and test ways to improve on it. This was the genesis of Project Safewater.
Beginning in 2007, Pentair collaborated with multiple non-governmental organization partners to develop an improved approach – combining technology, business models, and scientific research – to providing sustainable access to safe water. The learnings from these efforts were documented in a protocol that addresses the fundamental criteria for long term safe water and sanitation project success. As a result, Pentair has helped well over 500,000 people gain access to sources of safe water through investments greater than $8 million USD in developing countries.
Our longest running test case is in Colón, Honduras, considered to be one of the poorest areas in the world. A 2006 study by the government found that approximately 34% of residents lacked access to safe water, but studies funded by Pentair concluded that, in actuality, all of the available source water was contaminated with e. Coli and other bacteria, making it unsafe for human consumption. Pentair collaborated with Water Missions International to develop the Living Water Treatment System, which uses filtration and chemical disinfection to produce safe drinking water. The system was specifically designed for use in tough environments, is ruggedly built, simple to operate, and easily maintained. The Project Safewater collaboration installed more than 200 water treatment systems and over 10,000 sanitation facilities in Colón, which serves approximately 75% of the region.
Additionally, Project Safewater established a microenterprise business model, where the local community owns the water treatment systems and users pay a nominal fee for water. The individual user fee is established by the local community to cover the ongoing operation and maintenance of their system. Once installed, the system costs pennies per person per day to operate.
An independent study on Project Safewater-Colon’s health impact was led by Dr. Jeffery L. Deal, director of anthropology and water studies for the Center for Global Health, Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Deal’s finding indicate that Project Safewater’s protocol offers conclusive evidence confirming what many have assumed for years – that access to clean, safe water directly reduces waterborne illnesses. In addition, the study shows that this project demonstrates that community-based water treatment systems can be sustainable and cost-effective. The protocol shows that for less than $0.05/person /day, people can have access to safe drinking water.
Project Safewater exemplifies Pentair’s commitment to bringing safe water to those in need. Through cross-sector partnerships, we apply our tested protocol to replicate what has proven to be successful while innovating new approaches that offer scalable potential.
Since our initial success, we have expanded Project Safewater to:
- Launch the first Safe Water station in India with Safe Water Network
- Partner with Action against Hunger to bring clean water to people in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Address arsenic issues in Bangladsh.
In 2013, Pentair announced its latest Project Safewater efforts at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. We will address the safe water needs for the people in Kibera, an impoverished settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Living in one of the most densely populated places on earth, Kibera residents have no access to running water and often pay 2-10 times more for water than what Nairobi city residents pay. Pentair is committed to working with its partners in Kibera to increase the number of residents who have access to clean, safe water and to halve the number of drinking water related illnesses being seen by the local community health clinic. To view this commitment, please visit http://get.cgilink.org/v/c/834660.