FogQuest – Sustainable water solutions

Using innovative fog collectors as well as effective rainfall collectors to make optimum use of natural atmospheric sources of water


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About the project Edit

FogQuest, a Canadian non-profit, uses modern fog collectors to bring drinking water and water for irrigation and reforestation to rural communities in developing countries around the world. Fog collectors can be used in regions and deserts that receive less than one millimeter (about the thickness of a paper clip) of rain each year, but to work, they require fog and light winds.

Fog, a cloud that touches the ground, is made of tiny droplets of water—each cubic meter of fog contains .05 to .5 grams (half the weight of a paper clip) of water. Fog collectors look like tall volleyball nets slung between two poles, but they are made of a polypropylene or polyethylene mesh that is especially efficient at capturing water droplets. When the fog rolls in, the tiny droplets of water cling to the mesh and as more and more cluster together, they drip into a gutter below that channels the water to a water tank. Fog collectors, which can also harvest rain and drizzle, are best suited to high-elevation arid and rural areas; they would not work in cities because of the space constraints and water needs of an urban environment.

Fog collection projects have used from 2 to 100 fog collectors, and depending on the location, each panel can produce 150 to 750 liters of fresh water a day during the foggy season. In the village of Chungungo, Chile, where annual precipitation is less than 6 centimeters, 100 fog collectors produced 15,000 liters of water a year for ten years. Harvested fog water meets the World Health Organization’s drinking water standards.

The hills above Lima, Peru, receive about 1.5 centimeters of rain each year, but fog from the Pacific Ocean moves in from June to November. FogQuest’s project in the village of Bellavista here is producing 2,271 liters of water a day with seven fog collectors. Not only do they supply ample drinking water, they provide enough water for villagers to have gardens and grow tara trees which produce tannins that are sold for leather treatment. Eventually, the trees will become self-sustaining, collecting their own fog water, reforesting the area and replenishing the groundwater.

Current Projects: The following is a survey of our current projects

Guatemala – Tojquia 2006 – Ongoing: Fog Collection Operational Project

Melissa Rosato and Fernanda Rojas have just returned from a successful working trip to Tojquia. Two new Large Fog Collectors (LFCs) were built for families. This brings the total to 30. They also purchased and moved materials for up to eight more LFCs to be built in the next few months and did maintenance on some of the existing LFCs.

It is very satisfying to see that the community now is able to build the fog collectors on their own, with minimal supervision. It has proven to be a viable and effective means of providing clean water and there remains a list of families who would like an installation on their property. The current total daily fog-water production is estimated to be about 6000 liters. To check the collection rates Melissa and Fernanda also installed three Standard Fog Collectors (SFCs).

Ethiopia 2010: Fog Collection Pending Project

FogQuest has been approached by the Mt. Zuquala Monastery (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) to provide a fog-water supply for the monastery. It is located on the rim an extinct volcano south of Addis Ababa. There are about 700 monks and nuns living at the monastery and many additional farmers living nearby.

We have a potential sponsor for the project in Germany but need to first demonstrate that there is adequate fog water in the dry season at the monastery. To this end, we have sent mesh from Chile to Ethiopia to allow for the construction the small Standard Fog Collectors (SFCs) that we use in the evaluation process. Mesfin Shenkut, a FogQuest member in Addis Ababa and consultant on water projects, will assist the NGO supporting the monastery with the SFC measurements.

Chile – Atacama Desert Center 2007 – Ongoing: Fog Collection Educational Project, Update July 2009

There are presently two large fog collectors (LFCs) at the Atacama Desert Center (ADC) site in northern Chile. Both were built by members FogQuest and the second one was built by FogQuest in 2008 as part an environmental-educational project.

The second LFC continues to provide water for the plantation in what is the driest desert the world. The first LFC provides water for the station house where professors and students work. The project is periodically reviewed and when the needs for water are greater it is anticipated that additional LFCs will be built.

Chile – Falda Verde 2001 – Ongoing: Fog Collection Operational Project, Update 2009

The fog collectors have been producing water for nine years and were examined and repaired in August of this year. This project continues to provide water for a commercial aloe vera crop for the people of Falda Verde.

The project is under the direction and control of the community group and all decisions on its future rest with them. FogQuest volunteers in Chile are available and assist whenever asked.

Nepal 2001 – Ongoing: Fog Collection Operational Project, Update 2012 and Background

The Nepal Water from Fog Project (NWFP) was started in the spring of 1997 on the initiative of Kevin Kowalchuk, who had previously worked in Nepal on a film project. Kevin made contact with fellow Canadian Robert Schemenauer and they discussed how a water project using fog collectors might be initiated to help the people in the mountain villages of Nepal.

Dr. Schemenauer, working with Environment Canada and later FogQuest, developed the fog collection technology together with a group of university and forestry specialists in Chile. They have carried out projects in many countries and had worked previously with the Canadian Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) in Ecuador. CECI was approached to be involved in a project in Nepal and subsequently has provided volunteers for the project and other valuable assistance. In May 1997, the first 1 m2 Standard Fog Collectors were set up in Nepal in two locations: Khumjung, in the Everest region and Gotvangan near Kathmandu.

Subsequently, Pablo Osses, who was the first Field Operations Manager of FogQuest, went to Nepal to transfer the technology related to site selection and the construction of large fog collectors. FogQuest has maintained contact with all of the small fog collection projects in Nepal since the beginning and provides assistance and guidance as needed.

The main Nepalese NGO involved in the construction of fog collectors in recent years has been Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH). Some funding has been provided by SIMAVI. New projects will be managed by NCDC (Namsaling Community Development Center).

Their main contact point is one of the FogQuest directors, Tony Makepeace, who is in Nepal on an annual basis and who has cross appointments with groups directly supporting development activities in Nepal. There are presently seven small village fog collection projects in Nepal.

Eritrea – Asmara 2005 – Ongoing: Fog Collection Operational Project, Update July 2009

The project continues to fluctuate up and down depending on the ability to work effectively in Eritrea. On the positive side, the 10 large fog collectors (LFCs) built for Nefasit and the ten LFCs built for Arborobu were successfully installed and produced large amounts of fog water. Issue 21 of the FogQuest News has the story and pictures.

A local film company produced a video on the projects and promoted the installation of many more projects in the country. On the negative side, 2008 was a difficult year for both local and international NGOs in Eritrea.

Most were disbanded and forbidden to continue working. This included our partner NGO, Vision Eritrea. However, the sponsor of the project from Germany, WasserStiftung, has found a new partner in 2009 which was able to do maintenance and repairs on the LFCs at Arborobu and they reported that the LFCs were keeping the five 3,000 liter storage tanks full of water.

At this time the possibilities are there for future village projects in Eritrea, but we are awaiting decisions from WasserStiftung as to how they feel it is appropriate to move forward

Morocco – Boutmezguida (Sidi Ifni) 2006 – Ongoing, Fog Collection Current Project, Update January 2010

An evaluation of fog collection rates at two locations in Morocco began in 2006. The project is under the direction of Mr. Aissa Derhem of the Fondation Si Hmad Derhem, Casablanca, Morocco. Fogquest provided some initial guidance and Professor Maria Victoria Marzol, a long-time FogQuest member, has worked with Mr. Derhem on the project.

She is a professor at the University of La Laguna, Tenrife, Canary Islands, Spain, and reported on the project at the 2007 Conference on Fog, Fog Collection and Dew in Chile. Mr. Derhem reports they also have two meteorological stations now installed. One is in Sidi Ifni and the other in Boutmezquida. Boutmezguida is on a summit in a mountainous region at 1,225 m.a.s.l. southeast of Sidi Ifni and 30 km inland.

The site has great biological importance due to the diversity of species and Boutmezguida is classified as an Important Botanical Zone. The Fondation Si Hmad Derhem hopes to begin construction of large fog collectors in the summer of 2010. FogQuest will continue to provide guidance and will participate further in the field work as it develops.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

FogQuest builds upon the experience gained in projects conducted since 1987, which have repeatedly shown the viability and effectiveness of using fog collectors to produce clean water for people in developing countries worldwide.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

FogQuest builds upon the experience gained in projects conducted since 1987, which, even with limited funding, had shown the viability and effectiveness of using fog collectors to produce clean water for people in the deserts of South America and Africa.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

We are currently implementing, supervising or contributing to fog collection projects in eight countries.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

The frequent requests for projects to provide water in places where conventional sources such as wells, rivers and pipelines were not available, as well as the tremendous interest in the 1998 and 2001 International Conferences on Fog and Fog Collection, led to the formation of FogQuest.

FogQuest was founded in the year 2000 by Sherry Bennett and Bob Schemenauer in response to these needs and has become actively engaged in projects and in fund raising since the completion of the second Fog Conference in July 2001.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

FogQuest is a small, all-volunteer organization. No salaries are paid.

In addition, we make every attempt to minimize costs associated with the office, travel, publications, etc. In many cases, travel is paid or subsidized by the volunteers working on the project. This has allowed FogQuest to spend at least 90% of donations received directly on fog-water projects in developing countries.

The Government of Canada requires charities to meet a disbursement quota for funds raised to show that they are spending funds on the core objectives of the charity. FogQuest has exceeded its mandated disbursement quota in each year of its operations.

FogQuest receives its operating funds from three sources: grants from institutions for projects; donations from individuals and corporations; and annual membership fees paid by individuals.

Please visit the volunteer staff of FogQuest

This will not only let you know who is doing what but give you an idea of the expertise and experience we can bring to bear on solving water problems. A significant portion of the staff is based in Chile. Their language skills, intimate knowledge of Latin America and access to the region provide major benefits to the people served by our projects.

FogQuest is supported by...

Our Members & Volunteers, IDRC | CRDI, Round Square Schools, WasserStiftung Water Foundation, Erwin Taylor Charitable Foundation, School Supporters, Clubs and Districts of Rotary International

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