A human being can survive for three to five days without water before their organs begin to shut down, something more people are thinking about in the scorching Southwest these days. Water is often taken for granted in towns and cities across the U.S., but as you venture into the more remote areas of the country, clean drinking water becomes scarcer, and residents of those areas must be strategic when it comes to finding it.
Navajo Nation is a perfect example. It spans three states and covers more than 27,000 square miles, making it the largest Indigenous nation in the United States. The land is home to 175,000 people, and an estimated 40 percent of them don't have access to piped water in their homes.
While water has always been a precious commodity in the arid Southwest climate, conditions have been exacerbated by a decadeslong drought, as well as pervasive uranium contamination. During the 20th century, Navajo land was leased out for uranium mining that the U.S. government used to help develop its nuclear weapon arsenal. The mines were later abandoned and served as a contaminant for the land and drinking water, causing health complications among the Navajo people.
So water is not something people on the Navajo Nation can afford to take for granted these days.
But here's where American ingenuity can step in and help save lives. Source Global, a company based in Scottsdale Arizona, is helping solve the potable water problem with a innovative new technology they call a hydropanel.
A hydropanel looks like a solar panel, but it's a little wider and has a reservoir at its base. It is entirely self-contained and can be installed anywhere in the world where there is sunlight and air. It uses the sun to power the unit and utilizes the process of passive condensation to extract water molecules from the air to generate pure drinking water.
"Anywhere in the world, there's moisture in the air," explains Thomas Borns, U.S. direct sales manager at Source Global. "Inside the panel, what we're doing is taking that thermal energy and that air that contains moisture and effecting a form of passive condensation inside the machine. This condensation occurs on two desiccant wheels in the unit that are hydroscopic, coated in a special membrane. And what that means is that when the moisture condenses on those wheels, it only allows for H2O molecules to pass through them. So right away our unit is working with pure H2O."
Source Global has been commissioned to install its hydropanels in 521 homes across Navajo Nation, bringing desperately needed drinking water to people who would normally have to drive many miles to get it.
"We have to go all the way to Flagstaff which is 69 miles from here or the other direction to Tuba, 54 to 56 miles from here also," says Marie Singer Goldtooth, Navajo Native. And it's still not really good water because all the uranium mining was in our area."
Goldtooth has since had four panels installed on her off-the-grid property overlooking the Grand Canyon. Each panel produces the equivalent of up to 10, 16-ounce bottles of pure drinking water every day.
"Source is focused on solving humanity's greatest problem, drinking water," says Cody Friesen, Founder and CEO of Source Global, "and by perfecting drinking water wherever we are, we unlock people's potential."
Source Global isn't just bringing water to Navajo Nation. They have installed their panels in 50 countries worldwide, bringing drinking water to schools, worksites and residential buildings all over the globe. It is the beginning of an wide-reaching effort to rehydrate a warming world through revolutionary technology.