Peru nets water from fog

The Miami HeraldFebruary 12, 2010 

Millions of Peruvians live without running water, paying six times the norm for deliveries to cover rudimentary washing and cooking needs, but in the hills surrounding Lima, Elizabeth Pinous Reuilla relies on fog.

Above her house in the settlement of Bella Vista, southeast of downtown Lima, stand five large nets. In a city that gets an annual rainfall of less than an inch, the nets draw thousands of gallons of water from fog that covers the area six months a year.

"With this water, we have trees, fruits, vegetables and we can wash," Pinous said.

The system works by snagging tiny fog droplets that build up on the mesh, droplets that then fall into open metal channels under the nets. The water then runs off into plastic pipes, downhill and into concrete reservoirs.

German researchers Anne Lummerich and Kai Tiedemann, who worked with the community to develop and build the first nets, said it was like "turning on a tap."

Apart from fresh vegetables, fruit and a greener environment, the nets mean Pinous saves about $10 a month on water she used to buy.

Before, paying for water for personal use in Bella Vista was hard enough, with average household incomes ranging from $166 to $200 a month.

Using it to irrigate radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, parsley and native lucuma fruit trees was unthinkable. With free water dripping off the nets, however, the plants are flourishing.

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