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This island’s “water microgrid” is saving its aquifer from tourists

Bluewater is making Baltic Sea water drinkable for visitors to the tiny Swedish island of Sandhamn–and helping other water-strapped communities thrive.

This island’s “water microgrid” is saving its aquifer from tourists
[Photo: Bluewater]

The tiny island of Sandhamn lies around 30 miles east of mainland Sweden in the Baltic Sea, at the edge of the Stockholm Archipelago. Though the island is home to only around 90 full-time residents, 600,000 vacationers flock to the tiny outpost, which some call the “Swedish Hamptons,” each year. And that influx puts an unbearable strain on the island’s water systems.

Bluewater develops proprietary water-purification systems that use the process of reverse osmosis, a relatively common water purification tactic in which  a membrane removes ions, molecules, and large pollution particles from water.

Bluewater has installed four of its purifiers along the Sandhamn coast, where they extract water from the Baltic Sea, run it through the network of filters, and produce up to 30,000 liters of drinking water per day for newly arrived tourists.

The “reject water” leftover from the purification is funneled to the utilities, re-filtered, and used for purposes like toilet flushing, so it does not contribute to ocean contamination.

Each Bluewater purifier links up to a network of three cisterns from which purified water is distributed to a number of small hydration stations along the Sandhamn marina.

drought-like conditions exacerbated the need for quality water throughout the country’s islands… The systems require electricity to push the water through the filter, so there are other environmental concerns, but on a small island with little water, residents need to consider the tradeoffs.

[Photo: Bluewater]

In Flint, Michigan, where lead-contaminated local water led to disease outbreaks and exposed governmental negligence that’s yet to be righted, Bluewater donated several purifier systems to community spaces and shelters in 2016 to help mitigate water quality issues and drive down dependence on bottled water. “Our technology removes lead, so we were able to provide a solution that took away what was killing people in Flint in the municipal water supply,” Jacobson says.

The company also donated purifiers to Cape Town, South Africa, last December, when the country’s drought and water shortage were reaching a breaking point, and is looking into expanding to parts of California, where drought circumstances are pervasive.

Read the full article: https://www.fastcompany.com/90225526/this-islands-water-microgrid-is-saving-its-aquifer-from-tourists

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company’s Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab.

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