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This is a re-post of an article from 2009. I thought it was important enough to post on the blog here.
“As populations in developing nations increase alongside global pollution and the spread of water-borne illnesses, the need for clean and efficient water filtration has never been more urgent. Recently, the International Water Association (IWA) awarded UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program with the 2008 Project Innovation Award Grand Prizefor providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters. These water purification devices are made and distributed by Cambodian nationals, and have resulted in a 50 percent drop in diarrheal illnesses in the region since their implementation in 2002.

Read more at:

Charity: Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Sounds like a great idea (and they have a great www site, too).



During the Spring 2010 semester students from the EPICS course worked with our project to address an area of need. The Colonias Water Project – EPICS group was comprised of three Texas A&M undergraduate students: Max Van Laer – Chemical Engineer; Linh Lam – Chemical Engineer; and Irene Soto – Computer Engineer.

Here is the executive summary of their project:

The Colonias Water Project’s mission is to supply clean, inexpensive potable water to those who have none. The group is made up of a wide array of people ranging from engineers to artists or to high school $olunteers. They all come together to contribute to this cause by producing ceramic water filters. The water filters are created by a mechanical press that cranks a dye, molding the clay to the ideal thickness.

There were many other areas in the Colonias Water Project that we could address, but we were asked to focus on the mechanical press. The volunteers were mostly concerned with the lack of safety on the current water filter press. Even though the press is used locally, it serves as a model for other presses internationally, such as in Nicaragua and Honduras. Therefore our main audience would be a non-technical person. After taking several measurements, we began to tackle down the safety issue of the press.

We decided that the main priority was to remove the steel beam. Since the beam is not pinned to the press, the beam could slip if not aligned properly under the enormous amount of pressure. In addition, the beam has started to bend under the pressure, resulting in an uneven force distribution over the clay pots. The uneven force distribution builds cracks in certain parts of the mold, which directly affects the quality of the clay water filters. After several weeks of modifications, we finally resolved the problem and re-created two cylinders that could withstand all the force and not slip under pressure. The main feature of the new cylinders is the threading. Since the cylinders twist into each other, they will not slip and hurt somebody.

By Oscar Munoz & Michelle Badash

Texas & Massachusetts

Most of us don’t give too much thought to the availability of clean water – turn on any faucet, and it’s there. We may realize that there are places in the developing world where clean water is not easily accessible – but many people would be surprised to learn that certain communities right here in the United States have no clean water at their disposal.

Faculty at the Texas A & M University (TAMU) have created a unique program that combines the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of potters, engineers, housing experts and medical staff to provide access to clean water to The Colonias, a group of 2000 communities spread across a 1,434 mile section along the Texas border next to the Rio Grande River. More than half a million people living in The Colonias have no running water or sewage system in their homes.

A photo slideshow/video about the TAMU Water Project created by Michelle Badash.

Michelle Badash has been developing award-winning print and Web-based health content for non-profits, academia and the private sector for more than 15 years. She currently works as the Managing Editor of an academic international nutrition journal, and is also a freelance consultant specializing in global health and photography projects. Michelle is a volunteer editor of this year’s Health Literacy Month storytelling project. You can contact her directly at

To read the complete story  click on the link below.


In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

Read the entire article published in The New York Times:

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | August 12, 2009

A judge ordered a man to pick up trash for 300 hours after he was caught leaving jugs of water in the desert for illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico. The man, Walt Staton, is a member of the group No More Deaths. He was cited for leaving the jugs in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. A federal jury in June convicted him of littering. Mr. Staton was also sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation, and he is banned from the refuge for a year. He could have been sentenced to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine. Federal prosecutors had requested a $5,000 fine.

A friend and colleague, Billie Sessions (California State University-San Bernardino) sent a link to the Children’s Safe Drinking Water page ( sponsored by Proctor and Gamble. Have a look at the interactive demonstration of their response to the global water crisis.

On September 3, 2008, Ron Rivera, Coordinator of the Potters for Peace Ceramic Water Filter program, passed away. His hard work and dedication to to helping people around the world in need of clean drinking water is difficult to measure. Ron Rivera helped other people for one simple reason–he helped them, as our colleague Bryan Boulanger would say, “because it is the right thing to do.” Thank you, Ron. We will miss you.

Here is the link to Ron’s obituary in the NY Times:

You can visit the Potters for Peace memorial page for Ron and learn about how to help continue his work by clicking here.

Published: August 30, 2008

GILA RIVER INDIAN COMMUNITY, Ariz. — More than a hundred years ago, the Gila River, siphoned off by farmers upstream, all but dried up here in the parched flats south of Phoenix, plunging an Indian community that had depended on it for centuries of farming into starvation and poverty.

If that was not bad enough, food rations sent by the federal government — white flour, lard, canned meats and other sugary, processed foods — conspired with the genetic anomalies of the Indians to sow an obesity epidemic that has left the reservation with among the highest rates of diabetes in the world.

Now, after decades of litigation that produced the largest water-rights settlement ever in Indian country, the Indians here are getting some of their water back. And with it has come the question: Can a healthier lifestyle lost generations ago be restored?

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