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Aqua Clara

posted Jan 28, 2013, 3:31 AM by Ethan Shirley
Group shot                                                                                     Filter demonstration

In Michigan, we're working on partnering with more organizations with similar goals. Last week, eleven bright eyed students woke up at what they call "the crack of dawn", formally known as 8:30 A.M., and drove two and half hours to Holland, Michigan. The eleven students consist of members from the Pantanal Water Systems Team and NicarAGUA, another University of Michigan student organization. They visited Aqua Clara International: a Michigan based non-profit organization, which is involved in microfinance with bio-sand filters.

Harry Knopke, President of Aqua Clara, gave students a tour of their laboratory, where they designed and tested water systems. Aqua Clara has developed two types of filtration systems, one was the typical bio-sand filter and the other consisted of a plastic hollow membrane filtering system. Later, Bob McDonald, the Founder and Chairman joined the discussion. He spoke more about the anthropological importance of these filters. Harry interjected, and told a story where he re-visited an area to check up on the bio-sand filters and they were abandoned and used as garbage cans because the people didn’t know how to maintain them. The best advice Bob gave was to be constantly aware that people in other countries do not necessarily believe or understand our ways of thinking. Therefore, in order for these filters to exist permanently, we must tailor our teachings about filter upkeep to their culture and lifestyle. This is something we need to keep in mind as we start developing the lesson plans.

We are working on developing a relationship that will be mutually beneficial in the future. Having a connection with this organization that has such experience with bio-sand and other filters in many different countries is a great resource for PCER.