Friday, November 16, 2012

Changing Lives Through Clean Water

At AdEdge, we’re proud to call the state of Georgia home, but we don’t hesitate to offer our services to those outside the United States. When we heard about a South American town in dire need of help, we stepped in to assist the 6,000 residents who were being poisoned by their own drinking water.

The untreated water supply in San Antonio de Los Cobres—a remote village deep in the Andes Mountains in Salta, Argentina—had a dangerously high level of arsenic.

Arsenic levels in the tiny village reached up to 290 ppb. To put that in perspective, the World Health Organization’s maximum contaminant level for arsenic is 10 ppb.

Those high levels had heartbreaking effects on the community. The list of health effects stemming from arsenic poisoning included skin, bladder, kidney and lung cancer, as well as diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet. Residents also had significantly higher rates of heart failure and numerous other health concerns.

The odorless, tasteless contamination was more than just an inconvenience. It was an epidemic. Life expectancy was so short that younger generations were growing up without ever meeting their grandparents.

In fact, the situation was so bad that it was considered one of the worst cases of arsenic poisoning in South America. That’s when AdEdge stepped in.

Our employee-led non-profit organization Helping Hands For Water sprung into action, partnering with international community service organization His Heart Missions, Aguas del Norte—the water utility that operates the area’s water treatment plant—and the local municipality, to bring life-saving change to the community.

AdEdge implemented a two-step process using our ADGS+ media and granular ferric oxide (GFO) adsorption media. We integrated the community’s existing sodium hypochlorite chemical feed module with the new system, making the town’s only source of drinking water safe for the first time in decades.

AdEdge engineers traveled to the Argentinean town to start up the system—the first of its kind in Argentina—in November 2011. They were accompanied by a documentary crew, and Director Jim Hill and his team captured the process involved in providing safe, clean drinking water to the village in their documentary Troubled Waters, which has recently been shown at film festivals across the country.

Around 9 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2011, the first arsenic-free water was delivered to the town that was once plagued with poisoned drinking water. Since then, tests have shown that the system has significantly reduced the supply’s arsenic levels to less than 5 ppb. Now parents can give their children a glass of water knowing that it won’t make them sick later on.

We’re proud that our system drastically reduced arsenic levels in the town’s drinking water. But most importantly, it significantly improved the quality of life for the nearly 6,000 residents of San Antonio de Los Cobres.

AdEdge and His Heart Missions received an official declaration of thanks from the superintendent of San Antonio de Los Cobres, as a token of gratitude for protecting the community from a lifetime of poisoned drinking water.

As it gets closer to the holiday season, we want to show our thanks for the blessings in our own lives by giving back and improving the quality of life of those around us.