Nothing but Net: Fog Catchers in Peru Could Solve the Drought in California

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Economic instability, insufficient supply, and drought…What do all of these have in common? Water or at least a lack thereof. In the midst of many water problems worldwide people have been searching for solution to the wet issue of inaccessibility. The answers have been living in Peru the whole time. They are called fog catchers. No, not dog catchers, the scary guys who drive down the street who capture cute, fury animals, but fog catchers.  In fact, fog catchers are not even people; they are the water innovation of the future.

A fog catcher is specialized type equipment designed to trap water droplets from fog in the air. These catchers are typically made from metal, wood, or bamboo as the posts, and mesh for the actual net. When the mesh net captures the fog, the water drops from the mist roll down and are sent through PVC gutters to an organic filter and then finally to a tank or barrel for storage. These innovative and relatively cheap machines enable dry areas to obtain water.  Fog catchers take advantage of the fog that rolls in from the coast in areas like the mountainous Peruvian desert.  The water collected from the fog catchers are typically used for irrigation because the water harvested is not safe to consume. Due to this technology, many Peruvian farmers no longer have to struggle with their crop production amidst a major drought or other environmental obstacles.

Fog catchers are amazingly efficient at producing water. One fog catcher can produce fifty to one hundred fifty liters of water daily per household. Deserted, Lima in Peru has only four centimeters or less rainfall annually. However, since Lima is also known to be humid, up to ninety-eight percent, fog catchers are the perfect way to supply water. They are also easy to build and cost roughly around five hundred dollars each. Although the water produced from fog catchers is not drinkable, it is used for agricultural purposes and making beer. There is currently a project going on in Lima, which goal is to have 1,000 fog catchers that would capture 200,000 to 400,000 liters of water per day. These fog catchers potentially could be used throughout the world, which hopefully solves the problem with water security.

Currently in the United States, California is suffering from one of the worst droughts in history. From 2013 to now, California has not averaged more than four inches of rainfall per year (similar to the conditions of Peru). This 1scarcity of water has the potential to cause great agricultural and economic devastation. Produce is increasing in price, farmers are losing their money and, of course, water is getting more expensive. Some scientists even believe that if the drought continues on, California will deplete its water resources within a year. This emergency requires people to be innovative in finding new sources of water and fog catchers could be solution to their problem.  Just like in Peru, California should implement fog catchers to help with the current drought.

If you are interested in learning more, watch the video and check out the links we have attached below!

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8TBdrzemiM

Written by: Hannah Aronson, Yeonji Kim, Alex Springer, Kathy Tao

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