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Solar-Powered Filters Provide Clean Water For Remote Villages

SAN CARLOS (KPIX 5) When a Bay Area man saw people in remote villages around the world living without clean drinking water, he knew that had to change. But he had no idea how much support he'd find right here at home.

"Just with a little technology and a whole lot of soul you can probably solve anything on the planet," Jon Kaufman said thoughtfully.

The problem he's tackling: providing safe drinking water for villages in Haiti, Thailand, Guatemala, Mexico, and soon, Cuba.

"One thing that I'm pretty sure of is there's an abundant supply on earth of contaminated water," he said. "So I wanted to go the water purification route as opposed to drilling into the aquifers."

His solution is called "Sun Spring," a $20,000 self-contained water filtration system that pumps in dirty water, filters it, and delivers safe, pure drinking water. It also operates "off the grid" with solar power, and it has to, considering the remote places Kaufman takes it. Each unit produces enough clean water to supply 1000 people with 5 gallons of water each day, at a cost of about 1/100th of a penny per gallon.

"It could be run automatically without any intervention every single day without the need for 'Where do I get my diesel fuel?' or 'Where do I get electricity?' or anything like that," he explained.

Kaufman discovered the Sun Spring three years ago when he partnered with his Rotary Club to start the non-profit H2Open Doors to bring clean drinking water to villages in developing countries. He wanted to educate as well, so he involves students from Bay Area High Schools.

Oliver Borg went with H2Open Doors to Guatemala.

"To see people walking up with their jugs of water up to some of the Suns Springs that were already working and being able to fill it up with clean drinking water, that was just such an empowering moment to see it actually work," Borg recalled.

Keely Camp went on two trips to Mexico.

"Seeing them being able to just use a tap on a big, bulky machine that was quickly installed in one day, to get purified water for the first time, it was pretty amazing to see how much of an impact that made on them," Camp added.

So for bringing clean drinking water to villages in remote places around the world, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Jon Kaufman.

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