A Solar-powerful Water Purifer For Your Home and Business

As the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) works toward improving the power grid of the US Virgin Islands (USVI), residents continue facing service interruptions. Cistern water purification systems are rendered ineffective if they depend on unreliable power sources.

Residents experience periodic power outages on the islands, but that should not impact their access to potable drinking water. The Caripur H2O system is designed to purify cistern rainwater while running 100% on solar power. Additionally, the unit contains a backup battery that lasts for several hours to supplement power during service interruptions.

USVI Drinking Water

Drinking water is limited across the USVI. Many residents use cistern tanks to collect rainwater which is used for washing clothes or flushing toilets. This water is pushed into the home or business using an electrical pump.

A study found that approximately 80% of cistern tanks are contaminated with E. Coli compared to 58% of faucets (in addition to other germs and parasites). It’s concerning that a significant portion of cistern tanks are contaminated. However, the study also demonstrates that using proper filtration systems will result in safe drinking water.

Another important point is, even if the water were drinkable, frequent power outages disable the cistern pump preventing water from entering the building or home.

Power Outages

The USVI is no stranger to power outages. The islands are at risk of hurricane damage resulting in major electricity blackouts. Nearly 55,000 WAPA customers lost electricity after Hurricane Maria, and 25% remained without power 100 days later.

WAPA is experiencing some financial issues; most recently, this has led to the suspension of APR Energy’s backup power generators. The power plant reverted to two less efficient propane generators to augment the required electrical output.

Despite reassurances from WAPA, service disruptions are still a common occurrence on the islands.

Caripur H2O System

As discussed in our previous blog, cistern water purification systems can provide an essential service for USVI residents. However, these systems must be reliable.

The Caripur H2O system is designed to withstand chronic blackouts. The unit uses AC or DC and backup battery power but can also run 100% on solar power (bypassing the power grid altogether).

If the primary external power source fails, then Caripur H2O instantly switches to its backup battery which can provide hundreds of gallons of purified water on a single charge. This same battery will automatically recharge when power is restored, or when solar panels or a generator are attached. Providing indefinite water pumping and purification capabilities.

Power outages may be a common occurrence on the USVI, but access to purified cistern water should never be compromised.

Water Water Everywhere and NOW a drop to Drink

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) are a small grouping of islands in the Caribbean (roughly 1/8th the size of Rhode Island).

Water is everywhere; the islands are surrounded by the Atlantic ocean and receive 42 inches in annual rainfall. And yet, potable drinking water is not available to everyone. Limited public water infrastructure and contaminated cistern tanks leads to excessive bottled water purchases and plastic pollution.

Installing effective water purification systems, such as the Caripur H2O system, can help resolve the USVI’s current water crisis.

USVI’s Limited Public Water Access

Desalination plants

The Water and Power Authority (WAPA) generates potable public water in two of the four islands. Through reverse osmosis, the desalination plants turn ocean water into drinking water. Although the plants are relatively new, the infrastructure leaves much to desire; old leaky pipes result in revenue loss and potential health concerns.

Only 25% of the island has access to WAPA infrastructure. Some residents obtain WAPA water delivered through a 3rd Party service, but this is typically only used as a backup method to their primary water source: rainwater.

Cistern Tanks

Every building on the USVI is required to have a rain catchment system. The precipitation collects on the roof, drains into a cistern tank, and is routed into the house for showering, washing clothes, and flushing toilets. However, it is not a primary source of drinking water. Only 18% of residents use cistern water for drinking, cooking, or brushing their teeth (keep in mind, there are currently 60,000 cisterns in use).

Cistern rainwater is not advised for consumption. A study from the CDC and USVI Department of Health found that E. Coli was present in 80% of cisterns and 50% of water faucets. This data revealed that a majority of cistern tanks are contaminated, but it also demonstrates the importance of proper filtration systems between the cistern and faucet.

Combating Cistern Contamination

Rainwater will pick up any particles in its path, including pathogens from bird droppings and animal carcasses. This is how cistern tanks become easily contaminated with germs and viruses.

Chlorine can be added into cistern tanks to disinfect the water, however, this may cause other problems. Organic materials in surface water mixed with chlorine can create disinfectant byproducts (DBPs) which may result in harmful health effects (the CDC states that more research is needed to understand the long term impacts of DBPs).

With limited access to potable water, many residents rely on bottled water to supplement their consumption needs, but these efforts are costly (an average of $100 per month). The US Virgin Islands lack adequate recycling programs and are unable to properly handle the plastic bottle waste.

Filtration Technology

The Caripur H2O system processes cistern rainwater and generates purified drinking water that is colorless and odorless. The filters are so small that even viruses cannot pass through; let alone heavy metals, parasites, or chlorine particles.

By incorporating safe and effective purifying technology, USVI residents can reduce their reliance on bottled water and change their relationship with cistern water. These efforts can lead to monthly savings in water costs for families while reducing plastic pollution on the islands.

Most importantly, residents will be able to access clean drinking water in their own homes.