Simple technology fetches water from the fog
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have to worry much about getting your next glass of water. Scores of people work to ensure water is pumped, collected, etc. so that it’s no problem turning on your faucet. Droughts in places like California show that even developed communities shouldn’t take all this for granted, but some places, like Sidi Ifni, Morocco, show that every drop (or air mass?) can make a difference.
The villagers in Sidi Ifni used to spend huge portions of their day collecting water for household use. An average of four hours a day was spent per woman and child retrieving 42 gallons of water in hand-held containers. Without more extensive infrastructure and very little rainfall in this arid valley, there just weren’t many choices.
New infrastructure based on basic concepts
In March, 2015, a new system was launched to bring water to the village. Along the mountain ridges, a series of “fog fences” was installed, made of 40 panels of fine-grained nylon mesh, strung between poles and pipes. While there isn’t much rain in the area, cold air fronts often collect fog against the mountains in the evenings and mornings. Like a dew on a spiderweb, the moisture in the fog condenses on the mesh, and is then collected and routed through the pipes back to the village. With some ground-water supplementing the supply, villagers no longer need to hike all day to stay hydrated, and now have time for schooling and more lucrative commercial activities, like harvesting argan fruit.
Similar fog fences have been built in other parts of the world with mixed success. Projects have started in Peru, Namibia and South Africa as a “green” way to gather water. The first large-scale fog harvesting fence in Chile has unfortunately fallen into some disrepair. While it originally collected 15,000 liters of water a day, some conflicting reports state that only nine fences remain in working order since launching in 1992. Overall though the fences seem effective enough that drought-stricken (and famously foggy) San Francisco should give them a try.
Source: Moroccan villagers harvest fog for water supply by Zakaria Choukrallah, France 24