German conservationists Kai Tiedemann and Anne Lummerich came up with an ingenious solution to Peruvian village Bellavista’s water problem. The small village south of the capital city of Lima has very little rainfall but a lot of fog, so the duo set up fog catchers to harvest hundreds of gallons of water a day right out of the air!
From National Geographic:
When dense fog sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean, special nets on a hillside near Lima, Peru, catch the moisture and provide precious water to an area that gets very little rainfall–about half an inch (1.5 centimeters) a year.
The nets stand perpendicular to the prevailing wind, which blows fog into the coarse, woven plastic mesh. From there, drops of fog-water fall into gutters that carry the water to collection tanks.
Plastic funnels collect fog-water dripping from river she-oak trees planted in Bellavista, a small hillside settlement outside Lima that receives very little rainfall.
Desert and other dry communities around the world started harvesting fog-water dripping from trees as far back as 2,000 years ago.
Before fog-catching nets were installed, Bellavista residents relied on water that was trucked in, often paying ten times as much as people farther downhill who are connected to the municipal water supply.
To construct their fog collectors, residents of Bellavista, Peru–including the group seen above in 2007–worked on Sundays transporting bricks and heavy bags of sand up a steep hillside to their settlement outside Lima.
The bricks and sand stabilize the fog-catching nets, designed by conservationists Kai Tiedemann and Anne Lummerich.
“We transported exactly 1,800 bricks this way,” Tiedemann said. Bags collectively containing ten tons of sand, he joked, “weren’t as easy to throw.”
Although fog collection isn’t practical on a large scale, in small communities such as Bellavista–where water can’t be obtained from wells, rain, or a river–the technique can be a lifesaver, freeing poor people from high water prices.