For nearly 18 years, the over 1,500 people who live in Attawapiskat have been on a constant boil water advisory. That means that children born since 2001 may have never had the chance to drink clean, fresh water out of the tap.
For years, no solution has been found that would ease the plight of the families who live in Attawapiskat. Until now.
The money being raised with this campaign will go directly towards the purchase of a WaterGEN system, and the engineering costs of adapting it for the northern Ontario climate. This system will serve as a proof of concept, with the goal of rolling it out as a solution to all communities affected by the lack of reliable clean water.
WaterGen, a global leader in the development and implementation of water-from-air solutions, has come up with an ingenous system which can provide drinking water to people even in the most remote rural village communities, like Attawapiskat.
All funds raised will go towards implementing a pilot project that will provide fresh clean drinking water for native communities. It is our aim to start with Attawapiskat as a proof of concept, however should this be impossible, we will engage with other communities, and all money raised will go towards implimenting a solution to this problem affecting so many native communities in Canada and the US. Our ultimate hope is that by showing a functioning proof of concept, we can solve this problem once and for all, and we hope you will support us in this goal.
Please support this project today, by sharing this page and donating whatever you can.
About the WaterGen System:
What is the daily water demand by residents (in gallons)?
In the rest of Canada, average water consumption per person is about 80-100 gallons per day. This includes everything from drinking water to flushing toilets, showers and laundry, to watering the lawn and washing the car. The real-time consumption on reserve would be quite significantly less than that, and the dire need is for safe drinking water. If calculating only drinking and cooking needs, the number drops significantly to only a few gallons a day, per person, at most.
Attawapiskat has approximately 1600 people listed as living on reserve as of the last census. Those numbers have significantly declined in recent years (in large part, probably due to the water crisis). We considered the daily needs of 1600 people, to be safe, in our estimate.
Therefore, 2000 gallons per day is probably an accurate representation of real-world needs of the people of Attawapiskat, keeping in mind that we can’t be sure because it has been decades since these people have actually had this sort of access.
What is the daily output of WaterGen equipment per machine (in gallons)?
At peak performance the WaterGen systems can produce anywhere between 240 to 1300 gallons per day, depending on the system. To meet the needs of Attawapiskat we will be using a combination of systems and engineering solutions.
Equipment cost: What's the initial cost (purchase & shipping) per machine? What's the daily operation cost (fuel & maintenance) per machine?
One thing needs to be said before answering this question. When dealing with costs in northern Canada, it’s never as simple as when costing something for the South. Prices vary wildly depending on the time of year, and other factors (environmental, availability, timing, etc). A difference of a day may make the difference in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in shipping costs. Availability of propane in a season can make the difference in several figures worth of operating cost.
Therefore, this is a significantly more nuanced question than it sounds. Firstly, because no one has tried to run a waterGen system in the conditions of northern Ontario, we need to do some engineering to make the equipment suitable to that environment. We’ve spoken to several engineering firms, and have been assured that this is possible.
The outright initial equipment purchasing costs are probably in the neighbourhood of $150 000 per system (including the basic waterGen system, the shipping/storage container, and the HVAC system required to run it). After that, however, we’ve been given some wildly different prices for how much it will cost to adapt it to a northern environment. One firm quoted us at $3500, while another quoted us at 10 times that price. We need to pay highly specialized welders, HVAC mechanics, engineers, etc. to make this project work. If the adaptations needed are easy, this could be a few thousand. If it takes months of trial and error, it could easily cost much more. All of our fundraising efforts have taken the absolute highest estimate as our capital requirement. In other words, the purchase of equipment for one initial waterGen system should be between $175 000 to $250 000.
The equipment then needs to be shipped to reserve and assembled in situ. Again, the estimated cost of this varies wildly, depending on who we speak with. Anywhere from a few thousand, to $30 000 or more. This cost will also vary widely depending on the time of year. In winter, it will cost significantly more to bring the system north, and may be impossible to install until spring. In which case, storage of the system for several months will need to be included in final cost.
All told, an estimate of $300 000 is probably a reasonable figure to purchase and install our first system. After that, the cost per system (we need several on each reserve to eventually meet needs) drops dramatically, since there are no subsequent research and development costs associated with additional systems.
Operating costs per year are dependant on a lot of things, and giving a fair and reasonable estimate isn’t possible until the engineering of the initial concept system is complete. For example, if we need two HVAC systems to make it run, that doubles the cost of keeping it going. Fuel costs vary substantially from year to year, and we may need to purchase a generator dedicated solely to this system. We do believe, however, that the cost per year is significantly more cost-effective, humane, and environmentally sound than providing unending bottled water to the people of Attawapiskat, especially since it has been shown that this solution is not a viable one.
The goal is to purchase several WaterGen systems per reserve, to fully meet the water needs of residents. Once one system has been installed and is successfully functioning, we will purchase the correct number of units to provide the water output needed. Since we won’t know how much water each system produces in real world conditions (output is dependent on temperature and humidity, among other things) until we install the initial system, the number of systems we need to purchase is at this point only an estimate.
Why are you asking for one million dollars?
Our initial fundraising goal is seems higher than our initial cost estimate. However, by donating to our initial fundraising push, you are contributing to the cost of research and development to adapt the system to the Canadian north, and the purchase and placement of our first system.
The remaining balance raised beyond the cost of the above will be used to purchase further systems. The actual cost to roll out a fully autonomous water generation system will actually be more than the initial million dollar ask. However, the cost to do so only goes down significantly once the R&D phase is completed.
What other costs are associated with this project? Where is my money going?
All money raised is being managed by La’ad Canada, a registered not for profit organization in Canada. In order for GoFundMe to deposit money into our account, we had to show our registration documents, and that we are a not for profit organization in good standing. As such, we are required to file financial statements and tax documents every year with CRA. Further, as an organization, we are dedicated to providing full transparency to our donors and funding agencies. Budgetary information will be available quarterly, through La’ad, to any donor who inquires.
That said, there are several clear areas where money needs to go to make this project work.
First, as above, the research and development costs of adapting the WaterGen system, along with the initial equipment purchase costs are where the bulk of the money raised will go.
Second, there are of course some administrative costs associated. For example, we need to pay an accountant to make sure that all of our expenses are properly accounted for, and taxes are properly filed. We need to pay for things like paper, photocopies, website hosting, some small marketing costs of getting the word of the project out there, etc. If our staff needs to travel to meet with people on reserve or with government officials, their travel expenses would be covered.
Third, this is a pilot project, the ultimate goal of which is to show the Canadian government that there are real, viable solutions to this problem. We need to create materials to show that this project is viable, meet with law makers and politicians, and lobby our cause to government. This may require travel expenses, meeting room rentals, creation of marketing and promotional materials, etc.
However, we are primarily a volunteer driven organization. We are not paying six-figure salaries for anyone involved. We don’t have office space or the overhead associated with such. To be clear, at some point the project may become too large to be run by volunteer labour alone. In this case, salary commensurate with market value will be paid, as with any non-profit organization.