Aqua Clara

I’m in Nicaragua this week with folks from Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, MI.  Our goal is to install 90-100 portable water filtration systems in homes where the local water is contaminated and undrinkable.  Our delegation and the members of the Edgewood congregation are wearing wristbands as a reminder of the desperate need in the world for safe drinking water.

Aqua Clara International (, a non-profit organization located in Holland, MI, has developed the technology to provide safe, affordable drinking water for families around the world.  Imagine a 20-gallon plastic container, something close to a large waste basket.  A hole is drilled a few inches below the top rim so that a four to six-inch length of plastic (PVC) tubing with an elbow joint can be inserted; this is the tap for the water.  Now connect another elbow to the opposite end of the plastic tubing inside the container and run a length of tubing down the inside wall of the container to the bottom.  Attach another elbow, connect it with a piece of tubing that’s been drilled with quarter-inch holes about an inch apart, and run it the diameter of the container.  Cap the end.

Sift and wash specified amounts of local stone, pea gravel, coarse sand, and fine sand.  Load the container with the following layers:  a couple inches of the washed stone, a couple inches of pea gravel, a couple inches of course sand, and an inch of crushed brass alloy provided by Aqua Clara which acts as a disinfectant layer. Fill the rest of the container a couple inches from the top with the fine sand.

Now, add local water from a river, stream, pond or lake to the container system, and keep adding water every day.  A bio-layer forms on the top of the container from the local water.  As the water slowly works it way down through the layers of sand, gravel and stone, and drips out the tap, it becomes increasingly cleaner.  After twenty-one days, the filtration system is ready, and any water added to the system comes out ready to drink.  Aqua clara!  Clean water!

That’s it.  No moving parts.  No electrical power.  Everything constructed from materials costing about $15.  And it lasts for 10+ years.

There are plenty of worthy causes to support in this world.  Lots of organizations doing great things to improve life for impoverished people.  Aqua Clara International is one of the best!

[If you like this photograph, or any others that appear in my previous blogs, I’ll mail to your home a 4″x6″ print in a white 8″x10″ mat, ready for you to frame.  $10.  Send me a message on my CONTACT page or email me at]

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  1. Jody June 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks for representing the Church so well… a cup of clean water!!

  2. Eli June 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    It has been an honor being on a team with you here. It has been a humbling and rewarding experience in Nicaragua. I look forward to reading your future post about this time.

  3. Rosanne Holton June 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Great and important work! Thank you for being there.