Can fog be a source of clean drinking water for semi-arid desert regions?
Although humans have been able to thrive on rivers, snowmelt, and groundwater for centuries, it’s projected that 2/3rds of our growing global population will experience water scarcity by 2025.
Unfortunately, we do not get much rainfall or snowmelt in this semi-arid desert region of Las Californias, and we already regularly experience drought. But, we do get somewhere around 260 days of fog per year. Nature has handed us a potential solution to our current and impending water problems, we just haven’t been listening. Developing new, long-lasting, and scalable infrastructure is important to address as soon as possible.
Turning toward the sky
We’ve begun exploring ways to capture fog water through passive and low-energy input structures. Put simply, fog harvesting is the act of turning low-hanging clouds into usable water. To collect this water, all you need is a surface for water droplets to condense upon and a place for them to go.
Fog water capture is already a proven technology — currently, the largest passive fog farm in the world, located in Morocco, can harvest an average of 36,828 liters a day with a total surface area of 1,590 square meters of harvesting mesh.
Can a cultural identity be created through water capture and waste?
Current fog harvesting technology in Morocco at the largest fog farm in the world.
We’ve learned one of the biggest hurdles for cities and communities to really utilize fog water capture as a viable option is the lack of cultural adaptation. Without more approachability in the way water scarcity and the possible solutions to it are presented, your everyday person has little motivation to be a steward of more sustainable water capture and use. Instead, technologies developed by well-meaning scientists and NGOs are abandoned, uncared for, or unable to scale.
The cultural acceptance of any new technology is a must. We believe the aesthetic plays a huge part in this — no one wants an eyesore. We are exploring ways to use waste to create beautiful sculptures that simultaneously capture drinkable fog water for rural and urban communities in this region. We are collaborating with local artisans in Tijuana to design and produce these pieces out of upcycled HDPE, PP, and PET plastics collected from canals and parks — also helping clean up our neighborhoods and water streams. We're currently exploring the potential of other upcycled waste to condense the fog & dew, and local biomaterials, like seaweed, that provide insulation.