We have a global water crisis. Over one billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
The health and economic impacts are overwhelming. Over 7,000 children a day are dying because of dirty water. Waterborne disease is the number one health issue in the world, filling 50% of hospital beds globally.
In developing countries, people are forced to choose between sickness or purchasing expensive packaged or bottled water from untrustworthy sources. We believe that's an unfair choice. It's also inconvenient and burdensome, with serious impact to the environment.
Even in middle- and upper-income countries, lack of access to clean water remains a problem and drag on economic development, with contaminants such as arsenic and excess fluoride causing water-related illnesses, cancer and diabetes and resulting in billions of medical costs.
The more we've learned, the more we've become convinced we need to completely change the paradigm. We support those digging wells and the need, in certain circumstances, for large water treatment projects and hope governments will do more to fund them. But, it's time for more creative and cost-effective solutions. Both well water and tap water often need to be purified before they're safe to drink. It's more important than ever that we be willing to look at old problems and find innovative ways to solve them. The issues of water access, quantity and quality need to be addressed at the same time.
Traditional solutions like centralized water treatment plants are simply too expensive, consume enormous amounts of energy and take years to implement. Only 1-2% of water treated at a typical water treatment plant is actually used for human drinking and cooking. The other 98% leaks out of the antiquated pipes and is used for household utilities. Even worse, the treated water is frequently re-contaminated in the pipe system. It's estimated that the world will have to spend over $5 trillion dollars to adequately repair our water infrastructure (about $400 billion alone in the U.S.). This will not get done!
We can save time, money and energy by only purifying the water actually consumed by people if we purify the water at the point of drinking instead. The closer to your lips you purify water, the more effectively we can provide safe drinking water and reduce medical costs throughout the world.
Just as mobile phone technology allowed billions of people to leapfrog telecommunications technologies, we are convinced that effective point-of-drinking solutions will leapfrog the current reliance on water treatment plants and bottled water.
We formed The Water Initiative (TWI) because the global water crises requires local, customized solutions. TWI co-creates customized and sustainable drinking water solutions through innovative partnerships with municipalities, businesses and local micro-entrepreneurs in developing and developed countries. Using advanced filtration technologies that don't require electricity, we treat the water right after it comes into the home, school or hospital and before it is used for cooking and drinking. TWI addresses global water problems with affordable point-of-drinking solutions that remove virtually all contaminants.
TWI acts like a doctor: we first diagnose the local conditions and then develop the "prescription" or water purification system that is most appropriate to address the local conditions. Finally, local partners are engaged to deploy those solutions in the targeted markets. We believe the best way to help is to utilize the power of business and micro-entrepreneurs to create smart, appropriate solutions and put the affected people to work implementing these solutions.
Mexico was our first venue, where the water has very high levels of pathogens, arsenic and fluoride, three of the worst and most dangerous contaminants in the world. In partnership with the local community and Mexico's National Water Commission CONAGUA, TWI diagnosed Mexico's specific water problems, employed our customized approach and deployed innovative, low cost solutions that are transforming these communities. For the first time in water history, a state municipality, Durango, has determined not to deploy water treatment plants, but instead to deploy TWI point-of-drinking solutions for its people. Many municipalities are expected to follow this lead in Mexico and globally.
We've also learned to use the power of business to create jobs in our partner communities. Local micro-entrepreneurs help educate the community and deliver these low-cost products, with a family paying a nominal cost each month to be invested in the impact and upkeep of their clean water solution.
The Water Initiative is now taking what we've achieved in Mexico to other countries in the Middle East, Latin America and hopefully, soon to Africa, bringing investment and game-changing solutions to urban as well as hard to reach rural communities.
Water is the defining crisis of this century and we urge you to help us to avert calamity and bring health and peace to our world together. We need to open our minds to new ways to conquer our biggest global issues.
Our vision is to take our innovative, customized process to scale and address the overwhelming water issue globally.
As one of the greatest innovators of our time, the late Steve Jobs, said: "Let's go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday."