December 01, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU’s Wukich helps dedicate Haiti’s newest water-filter plant
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Richard Wukich, professor of art at Slippery Rock University, and his daughter, Danika, are in Haiti this week helping dedicate a newly certified water-filter plant in Jacmel. Wukich has a long involvement in making and promoting filters that purify non-potable water.
As part of their visit, they will also tour the Artibonite Valley, cited as the center of the recent cholera outbreak. There they will meet with local Rotarians to plan another new filter factory to serve the area, Wukich said.
Wukich and his daughter, who attended SRU, have visited Haiti repeatedly since an earthquake struck last Jan. 12. The devastating magnitude seven quake left an estimated 10 million Haitians homeless and the country’s water supply system and other infrastructure in shambles. Nearly a year later, there has been little improvement, with the exception of limited distribution of water filters.
A recent outbreak of cholera threatens to become a very serious consequence, especially since the often-fatal disease is transmitted by drinking contaminated water.
Wukich, told local Rotary Club members, “We are planning to make this a model project for worldwide replication.”
William Williams, SRU provost and vice president of academic affairs, has supported implementation of the water filter project.
“When Dick proposed this project, I saw it as a great humanitarian program with worldwide benefits. It is a project that is in line with our University’s mission and a great way for Dick to be involved in a project that will benefit everyone involved,” Williams said.
The plant dedication portion of his trip deals with the opening of the newly certified FilterPure Filter factory, which was put in place by Dickson Beattie “Doc” Hendley, executive director of Wine to Water, and Lisa Ballantine, an Elk Grove native and executive director of FilterPure Filters.
FPF is a non-government organization that makes silver-enhanced ceramic filters, which have been formally recommended as a point-of-use system by the World Health Organization. Wine to Water is a U.S.-based charitable organization focused on providing clean water to people around the world.
The bell-shaped vessels made of ceramic mud impregnated with silver colloid are kiln-fired, then inverted over a catch bucket. Water, poured into the bell, seeps through the porous, hardened clay with impurities, including disease producing bacteria, removed leaving the water 99.9 percent pure – and potable.
The $30 filter has a five-year lifespan and provides clean water to families, many of whom remain displaced since the earthquake.
The filter has been professionally tested and is believed to be completely effective against cholera, salmonella and typhoid. It also removes dangerous chemicals or environmental waste often picked up in runoff.
Wukich said he would like to see production boosted to 39,000 units in three years, “producing potable water that in turn will make the people healthier while providing much-needed jobs.”
Mark Cousino, a Kansas City ceramist, is the new facility’s supervisor, with Wukich serving as adviser. Haitians will operate the business as a self-sustaining, micro-enterprise.
Wukich, who has trained local potters in the simple technology, and Hendley were among those featured last January on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” special “CNN HEROES: Saving Haiti” which aired shortly after the earthquake.
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