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Did you know… that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water?

Did you know… that less than 3% is fresh water?

Did you know… that only .08% is water suitable for drinking?

Every day, nearly 1 billion people go without clean water.  The first Water Day was recognized on March 22nd, 1993 after recommendations were made to host an international day celebrating freshwater. As a result, each year Water Day celebrates an essential aspect of freshwater and focuses attention on its importance while advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. In 2014, the UN is bringing its attention to the water-energy nexus, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the ‘bottom billion’ who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services.

As the global water crisis continues, solutions for delivering safe and clean water to the world’s growing population has become an increasingly pressing concern. Current water cleaning technologies include chlorine water filters, carbon filters, UV disinfection, traditional water boiling, etc. However, these solutions are often not practical enough for the parts of the world where they are most needed. These solutions frequently require additional technologies, resources, and electricity to power water disinfection systems for boiling and UV disinfection, while chlorine filters can become very expensive. Currently there is no one significantly robust technology that is applicable in a multitude of settings.

On Water Day, we’d like to highlight a recent innovative and creative solution to water purification. The Pine Tree Water filtration may sound like something of the future, but a group out of MIT was inspired to produce a filtration process based on the way plant xylem conducts fluid in plants.  Xylem filters were made by removing the bark off pine tree branches and inserting the xylem tissue into a tube. The filters were tested for the removal of both pigment dye and bacteria from water.  The recent study was preliminary, and the first of its kind, but effectively showed that the xylem could move fluids while simultaneously removing bacteria naturally. While further research and development is needed the potential to leverage this type of filtration is enormous.

What other innovative and creative water solutions can you share?