Section 1: Archives
Combats Water Problems In Iraq
By Spc. Edgar Reyes, 2nd BCT PAO, 4th
Aug 31, 2006 - 4:58:00 AM
FOB KALSU, Iraq – Richard Wukich, a ceramics professor from
Slippery Rock University in Pittsburgh, teaches two Iraqi apprentices
how to properly measure colloidal silver on a scale, which is
used to kill bacteria in ceramic filters, during a class at Forward
Operating Base Iskandariyah Thursday aimed at providing clean
water filters to local Iraqis.
Blackanthem Military News, FOB KALSU, Iraq – As the scorching
Iraqi sun blazed down on a little boy in a village, he cupped
his hands together to drink water from a canal running through
the middle of his town, unaware that 11,000 children like him
die from water-born diseases every day around the world who drink
from similar canals.
As a way to resolve the local water
problem and prevent tragedies such as this, leaders from 1st Battalion,
67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division,
requested the help of a college professor to teach local Iraqi
potters how to make clay/sawdust ceramic filter pots capable of
decimating 99.88% of water-borne disease agents.
Perhaps equally important in the
endeavor is the ability to provide jobs for the local populace
and present a reason for factions to unite for a common cause.
To accomplish this, Richard Wukich,
a college ceramics professor who teaches at Slippery Rock University
in Pittsburgh, volunteered to instruct two Iraqi potters how to
make the ceramic filters during his free time between semesters.
He traveled to Iraq and spent two weeks training his new charges.
Wukich began his class by teaching
the apprentices how to make clay pots with a mixture of saw dust,
which is uncommon in Iraqi culture. The saw dust disappears during
the clay baking process, creating several small holes that act
as a filtering system inside the pot.
After crafting several pots, Wukich
taught the trainees how to coat the pots with colloidal silver,
an incredibly fine particle that kills bacteria and organisms
and does not allow bacteria to grow into a culture inside the
pot. The pots are either painted with a brush or dipped into a
container containing a colloidal silver and water mixture.
After the colloidal silver is completely
absorbed into the pot, it is placed on the mouth of a 5-gallon
receptacle container. The filter is then covered with a lid or
a piece of fine cloth.
Users pour water into the fine cloth
to filter out extremely turbid water. As the water enters the
clay pot, the filters inside the clay leave small dirt particles
behind and the colloidal silver destroys any bacteria in the water.
The clear and clean water then drips into the 5-gallon receptacle
at a rate of 1-1.5 quarts-an-hour.
“This project was originally
initiated by Capt. Richard Nardo,” said Wukich. “He
is an environmental engineer who was activated by his Reserve
unit to deploy to Iraq. He saw the need for a water filtration
system and began researching on the internet until he found the
clay filter technology “Potters for Peace” had learned
to use from a doctor in Guatemala.”
Nardo contacted “Potters for
Peace” and requested Wukich to help teach Iraqis how to
build the filters as well as devise a business plan so the Iraqi
people could begin mass manufacturing of the product and create
jobs in the area.
Initial attempts to begin the project
stalled in January 2004 before Wukich provided an article published
in a renowned newspaper in the U.S., which contained statements
from a commander in Iraq who had the same concerns regarding the
conditions of the water supply.
In the article, Lt. Col. Patrick
Donahoe, commander, 1-67 AR, stated the problems he was facing
in Iraq were similar to the problems he faced when he deployed
to Bosnia as a young officer, said Wukich. People of different
ethnicities and religions attempted to gain power in the country
and, in doing so, they ripped the country apart and divided the
people – eerily resembling the current situation in Iraq
with Sunni and Shiite factions clashing.
In the article, he also mentioned
the need to provide business opportunities benefiting both factions
and reintegrating local politics with leadership.
Knowing the business possibilities
of the ceramic filters, Wukich said he sent an email to Donahoe
describing the water filter and the possible economic impact it
could have in Donahoe’s area of operations.
After several conversations with
Donahoe, Wukich was invited to Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah
to begin the project.
“If it wasn’t for Lt.
Col. Donahoe, this project would not be happening right now,”
said Wukich. “I had several roadblocks with my previous
attempts, but with his assistance, I’ve finally been able
to start the project.”
“This project is going to do
two things,” said Maj. James Ortoli, civil affairs team
leader, 412th Civil Affairs Battalion. “It’s going
to put Iraqis to work and give them clean water. It is the most
economically efficient way for Iraq to start making its people
responsible for their own water.”
The big plan for the ceramic filters
is to teach the apprentices how to make the filters so they can
start selling them at affordable prices to the general public.
Once the idea of having a filter catches on with the Iraqi people,
the apprentices could then hire workers to increase production
in their area thereby creating jobs and improving their economy.
Having both sides work together to provide the country with clean
water and boost the economy could be exactly what this country
needs at this moment in time, said Ortoli.
“This filter has come late
into my life,” said Wukich. “If I could teach people
how to clean their water and have 10,999 children die a day instead
of 11,000, I would feel like I accomplished something. It does
not sound like a big statistic, but when it’s your child,
it becomes significant.”
of the Potters for Peace
Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Filter (.pdf file)
MIT Colloidal Silver Filter Pictures (.pdf file)
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