This week the Sundance Channels groundbreaking Eco friendly series Big Ideas For A Small Planet looks at Water. Water is a fundamental building block for life. Two thirds of our planet is covered in water, but only about 3% is readily available for drinking. Much of the fresh water is either deep below ground where it is inaccessible or locked in the polar ice caps.

Desalination is one solution. But traditionally desalination is an expensive solution. Amanda Brock the CEO of the Water Standard Company has an innovative solution. Mobile desalination plants that are eco friendly and energy efficient. One of the big issues with traditional methods of desalination is what do you do with the high salt content left over. Amanda Brock has solved that issue, by mounting the reverse osmosis plant on a ship the salt can be safely and easily returned to the ocean. Better still the plant can easily be moved to wherever it is needed. Powered by bio fuels or even the wind this is essentially a self sufficient and sustainable. One Water Standard Company vessel mounted desalination plant will be able to meet the daily demands of ¾ of a million people. I was interested in this idea, and managed to get a short interview with Amanda Brock.

Who is the ‘founder’ or driving force behind the company?

Our Founder, Andrew Gordon, lives in Florida. He’s been working on the concept: designs, patent work, a lot of homework–since early the early 2000’s. He just really wanted to find an alternative to land based solutions, that would be more environmentally responsible while helping with the growing world shortage crisis.

Going ‘Green’ is not always a simple process. As the saying goes, ‘it takes money to save money’. Was funding a big issue?

Funding was challenging because of the world economic situation and lenders being careful with money. But everyone we’ve talked to has been excited about this technology–and since we’ve been funded, more have wanted to get on board–no pun intended! The water sector is an important and growing financial sector because the crisis is getting more and more visible–Atlanta vs Florida–Nevada vs. California are making everyone in the US more aware–the Middle East, Australia, China, Greece and Cypress–and just this week, Spain has been in the news. With all my research this past year, I find myself becoming increasingly conscious about wasting water in my own daily life.

Our main funding challenge was, that in spite using proven technology that is used on land based plants, cruise ships and naval ships, we are the “new kid” and again, in these uncertain financial times, it’s hard to take that first leap of support.

You have a wonderful concept, when are we going to see ships emblazoned with ‘Water Standard Company’ on them?

We are finishing a significant design stage right now and expect to be in a ship yard, retrofitting our first vessel, hopefully within the next 6 months. If we meet that deadline, we hope to have a vessel up and producing water in 2009.

Thanks for taking time to chat with BNN, and good luck with Water Standard Company.

Another solution, while not as high tech as desalination, but just as important is making better use of what water is currently available. Chad Pregracke is the founder of Living Lands and Water, an organization dedicated to that goal. This 10 year old project has one simple goal, to clean up America’s rivers. As Dr David Suzuki tells us “it is a closed loop system, we use water from lake Ontario, and when we flush the toilet, it goes back to lake Ontario”.

By cleaning up the river banks we can increase the amount of usable water. By removing oil barrels, refrigerators, stoves, and even bowling balls, we can prevent harmful heavy metals and PCB’s from entering our water system. Chad started with an $8000 grant, his organization now has an annual budget of $850,000, a paid staff of 6, thousands of volunteers, boats and barges, this is a 24 year old that has truly made a difference. But as Chad’s mother Kiki Pregracke humorously explains, fame comes at a price “I have lost my identity, now people just call me Chad’s mom.”

Segment three of this weeks episode centers on Tim Pope a rainwater catchment specialist. Rain is water that has been naturally filtered, and it is a resource that is often overlooked. Even capturing just the rain that falls on your roof can provide a significant percentage of a persons daily needs.

Big Ideas For A Small Planet is without doubt one of my favorite TV programs. Water airs on Tuesday April/15 at 9pm on the Sundance channel. Tune in, you will not be disappointed.

Simon Barrett

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