Caterpillar Helps Bring Clean Water To The Amazon
Though the Amazon Basin is the largest freshwater system in the world, most of its water is unsafe for drinking due to waterborne diseases and other contamination. Countless thousands of Brazilians suffer from frequent illness-and sometimes death-due to waterborne bacteria and parasites. The death toll is especially high among babies, children and the elderly who live in the thousands of small Amazon River villages.
Now, thanks to a group called Operation Amazon (OA), and with a little help from Caterpillar Inc., people in the area are beginning to have a source of safe drinking water. Operation Amazon is working to deliver innovative bio-sand water filters; yet face a challenge to efficiently deliver the water filters in an area without roads. Recently OA completed construction of a new vessel, named the Nova Vida, to take advantage of the extensive river system in the Amazon. The vessel is powered by a fuel-efficient Cat® C12 engine and TD transmission, donated by Caterpillar.
"The boat and engine work really well," said Dennis Sohn, an OA director. "The Cat engine is very economical. We are using 40 percent less fuel compared to the non Cat engine in a boat we had been using. This will really help to use more of our donors' funds to acquire and deliver water filters, instead of paying so much for diesel fuel."
The Nova Vida is a specially designed boat to navigate in areas of the river that experience large fluctuations in the river depth throughout the seasons. The vessel is able to go into low water areas that the other big boats could not go and even could run right up on the bank. This helps volunteers walk right off the boat onto land, a safer practice that allows delivery of bio-sand filters and filter materials right to shore without transfer to a smaller boat.
"The biosand water filter is a simple, inexpensive filter and is recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the most effective low-tech water filters in the world," said Sohn. It works by filtering polluted water through a naturally occurring biofilm and alternating layers of sand and gravel. In addition to filtering out particulates, herbicides and pesticides, the filter destroys the micro-organisms that cause cholera, typhoid fever and amoebic dysentery, delivering safe drinking water. The filters are easy to maintain once they're installed in a home. In fact, the owner himself, with brief training, can do all the maintenance.
"Operation Amazon is making a positive impact in the lives of people and communities in the Amazon. I'm proud that Caterpillar could support that effort, demonstrating our commitment and helping to provide a better quality of life to thousands," said Tim Scott, Business Development and Marketing Manager for Caterpillar's Electric Power Division, who was previously based in Brazil as Power Systems Manager.
Click here to find out more about Operation Amazon.