While they may not be the first people you think of for water innovation, first responders have their own unique needs that must be met in order for them to do their jobs in keeping us all safe. A dedicated focus on meeting these needs is one of the many reasons we are so proud to count W.S. Darley and Co. among our members.
Specializing in logistical water solutions, Darley’s innovations help to ensure firefighters, military and other tactical professionals are able to get water when and where it is needed. As explained by Kevin Sofen, one of Darley’s business development managers, “We make sure people are ready for the day you hope never comes.”
Take, for example, a hurricane. In the aftermath, where water is often either not available or not safe, the best answer doesn’t necessarily come in a bottle. When such a disaster hit Puerto Rico in 2017, Darley worked with local organizations to bring wind and solar powered water purifiers to individual communities on the island. To date, five water purification units have been installed, which generate a total of 25,000 gallons of clean water every day for these recovering communities.
“Most solutions focus on delivering bottled water,” Sofen explains. “But that is not always a sustainable option.”
The solar and wind powered purifiers do a few things bottled water cannot. For starters, the purification units provide a long-term solution that will continue to support communities beyond the immediate period after the disaster. Secondly, they help decentralize the water network so that, should there be future events, entire populations are not in jeopardy when the central supply is compromised. Lastly, with the ability to also bottle and sell the purified water, they create social enterprise opportunities that empower communities to thrive in ways beyond water.
From Nepal to Kenya, Darley’s humanitarian water projects, which use wind and solar powered solutions, give communities the ability to bottle and sell safe water at a fair market price. The profit can then be reinvested in local and civil initiatives to support such things as health, education and women-owned businesses.
In another example of vital logistical solutions, think for a moment of wildfires. Keeping responders hydrated, while they wear a hundred pounds of equipment and battle in temperatures that can reach as high as 1,472 degrees, is no easy feat. Yet countless lives, human and animal, depend upon it. Darley works with municipalities to install water solutions directly onto fire trucks. Through this, the trucks are able to generate up to ten gallons of drinking water a minute.
With similar technology, Darley’s portable water filtration systems ensure the military has the means to make water wherever operations take them. In addition to fresh water, Darley’s Safe Water in a Box, which has a 3-year shelf life and significantly less breakage during an airdrop, is an ideal solution for both military and disaster relief operations.
In addition to his work with Darley, Sofen has founded a nonprofit, Wristsponsible, and hosts the Rethinking H2O podcast to expand the reach of water solutions and conversations. Wristsponsibleworks with grassroots charities and education partners to raise awareness and implement safe water projects around the world. To date, the organization’s initiatives have provided over $10,000 of economic empowerment to female artisans and contributed over $50,000 to water projects worldwide.
Closer to home, Wristsponsible, with Sofen spearheading the project, has recently helped bring much needed water solutions to Flint, Michigan, where after more than four years, residents still lack access to safe tap water. Working in partnership with The National Clean Water Collective to create a multi-pronged solution, safe drinking water can now be found at the Haskell Community Center, home to both after school and summer programs for hundreds of at-risk kids.
“Collaboration with local organizations and residents, who are living with the challenges day in and day out, is essential to building trust and implementing viable solutions,” Sofen says.
Thanks to this grassroots initiative and the insight of community members, the center now has new pipes, point of entry led removal systems and bottle filling hydration stations to serve the children and other members of the community.
Sofen believes passionately in creating solutions that are technology agnostic, meaning tailored specifically to the needs they are addressing. And he sees Current as a valuable asset in developing such solutions. With a niche in understanding what water users need to solve their water-related problems, a database of more than 500 vetted technologies and a global network of industry leaders, Current is uniquely positioned to help find the best possible match for members’ needs.
In addition to tailored solutions, expanding collaboration across the entire sector is an essential opportunity Sofen sees for positive forward movement. And he believes the Current model of connection is helping to pave the way for that to happen.
“From technologist to advisor to end user, Current has resources that span the entire process,” Sofen explains. “Their board, advisors and staff offer access to incredible insights and connections that members might not have otherwise had.”
We are grateful to have Darely, as well as dedicated professionals like Kevin, as a part of our community. And couldn’t be happier to know the feeling is mutual.
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