Puerto Rico Initiative
In September of 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by two back-to-back “Category-5” hurricanes, being Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. These hurricanes created island-wide devastation, with new estimates reporting nearly 5,000 deaths across the country. Though these Category-5 hurricanes caused significant damage to infrastructure, the greatest damage was done to Puerto Rico’s electricity grid and water supply, which resulted in communities not having access to electricity or on-site water for weeks to months.
The water problems that Puerto Rico faced in regards to the hurricanes were two-fold. First, Puerto Rico’s current water supply is based on a “centralized” system, which pumps water from a treatment plant through piping to each community and household; since the country lost electricity for multiple weeks to months, the centralized water system was no longer active, since the water system depends on electricity to pump the water to individual taps and faucets. This led to multiple communities and households resorting to using trash cans to catch rainwater just to have the ability to flush their toilets and wash their dishes.
The second problem Puerto Rico faced in regards to water supply following the hurricanes was significant flooding, which brought pollutants from sewer mains, landfills, and agricultural areas into centralized water sources. This means that the water people had access to was dangerously contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants, making it unsafe for human use.
Puerto Rico, as well as other Caribbean Islands, will continue to be at risk of major tropical storms and hurricanes every year throughout the future. Creating resilient solutions to providing on-site access to clean water is detrimental in reducing the negative impacts these storms have on communities and limiting waterborne illness and death following these natural disasters.
2018 Clean Water Initiative
In 2018, Gravity Water launched it’s program in Puerto Rico, providing 175+ households in the Atalaya Community with access to safe water on-site, completely energy free.
In 2018, the Gravity Water team completed it’s first Gravity Water project on the island of Puerto Rico. This system focused on providing the community members of Atalaya, Puerto Rico with access to on-site safe water, including 3,200 gallons of fresh rainwater storage and 800 gallons of EPA-rated on-demand safe drinking water.
Atalaya Community Clean Water Project - Rincon, Puerto Rico
The Atalaya Community Clean Water Project was developed through a partnership between Hillspring Church in Washington, U.S., Water from Wine, and Hope Water. The project provides a total of 4,000 gallons of safe water to the community, completely energy free. After the completion of the project, Gravity Water hosted a “Community Gifting Ceremony”, where members of the community could learn about the system and how to set up energy-free water filtration systems at their home.