A local water-purification company donates units to Puerto Rico
“I’ve never been to a disaster zone,” says Kenton Jones of Las Vegas-based water-purification company Multipure, remembering his October visit to Puerto Rico. “But to my eyes it’s complete destruction. … Everywhere you go, you assume there’s no water, no power, and no communication.”
Lucky break then, to get Olga Ramos on the phone, first try. The Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico director helped Jones deliver three of Multipure’s Waterbox purification units to Boys & Girls Clubs around the island (two others went to Multipure distributors).
Ramos’ view of her home post-Hurricane Maria has the optimism of a devoted local: “We’re rebuilding,” she says. “My hope is that this will be an opportunity for us to create a more sustainable infrastructure.”
In the meantime, an estimated 1 million Puerto Ricans still lack running water. Donations like Multipure’s Waterboxes, which run on solar panels, are helping to fill the gap. The $10,000 unit was designed for military use — small battlefield deployments. What’s unique about it, Jones says, is that it makes water microbiologically safe without the use of UV light, chemicals, or wastewater.
“You can suck water out of an elephant footprint with this and make it drinkable,” he says. “We have a lot of contacts in Puerto Rico, a lot of distribution there. So, we knew we had a good opportunity to help, coupled with a product sitting on our shelf, ready for use.”
Multipure Foundation, the company’s fundraising and philanthropy arm, had previously worked with the Boys & Girls Club to donate Waterboxes in Flint, Michigan, during that town’s 2015 leaden-water crisis, making the collaboration with Ramos a natural.
She says that, in addition to supplying the clubs’ children and staff with drinking water, the Waterboxes are providing a supplemental source for their surrounding communities. The clubs have cisterns, a reliable input source from which the Waterboxes can generate as much as 30 gallons of potable water per hour.
At press time, Jones expected to make a second trip to the island at the end of November; difficulty booking flights had prevented him from doing it sooner. His plan is to deliver five more Waterboxes, again working with the Boys & Girls Club.
“Since infrastructure is lacking, there isn’t a whole lot that you or I could do, now that the immediate emergency is over,” Jones says. “Water is one of the few areas where people can help. It’s a tropical island, so there’s water everywhere. It’s just a matter of making it drinkable.”