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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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Soaking in the rays, she’s a sunbathing beauty that provides some needed visual relief from the trailers, tents and trash along Beach Boulevard in Waveland. But she’s also got a real job: providing purified water used by a relief group and locals.

To be honest, she won’t win any beauty contests -- her real beauty is in how she does her job. You see, she’s a mobile solar-powered water pump and purifier. Photovoltaic cells absorb the sun’s rays, creating electricity that can be stored or immediately used to pump water into purification tubes and then storage tanks.

“It’s just by the power of the sun and filtration,” says Renee Aue-Weaver, a manager with the Morrell Foundation, which runs the relief complex at Buccaneer State Park.

The unit is hooked up to Waveland’s main water supply, which has been declared safe, but relief workers aren’t taking any chances with water quality and use the system for cooking and drinking.

There’s even a storage tank for locals to drive by and refill jugs. Aue-Weaver says that’s particularly helpful for property owners who haven’t tested their water yet.

The unit was donated by two New Jersey companies: WorldWater and Power, a solar energy firm, and NAI Global, a commercial real estate firm.

For WorldWater and Power, the project was a chance to help out in the United States after deploying similar technology in Africa, South Asia and Haiti.

CEO Quentin Kelly says the Waveland unit retails for $80,000, can provide 15,000 gallons of water a day and takes less than an hour to set up. It’d only take a few days to pay off the cost, he says, which is considerably cheaper over time than trucking in bottled water.

Kelly recalls getting a call from someone at FEMA who was excited to hear about the system and promised to call back. “He never ever called again,” Kelly laments.

So how’s the solar-powered, purified water taste? Aue-Weaver, herself a Waveland resident, says it’s better than the slightly salty well water around town. “It’s not sweet,” she says, “but it just has a different taste.”

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20 COMMENTS

American ingenuity will win every time. It's so gratifying to see businesses stepping up to help their fellow citizens. Is this technology being used elsewhere? Thanks to WorldWater and Power and NAI Global.

thanks worldwater and nai for helping mississippians

solar is cool but like medicine very few can aford it

There is a huge artesian well that flows 24-7 up on the Jourdan River shore just across from the lumber mill in the Kiln. If someone could, or would,take a boat or barge up there they could fill thousands of gallons of free clean water. The river access there is unobstructed and deep. The well is on the south side of the river 300 yards north of the lumber mill. When I used to live there in Jourdan River Shores we regularly drank from there on hot summer days while out fishing and swimming in the river.

This is a great start. With all the technology out there, there is still so much companies can give that can help make the lives down there tolerable. Only people and machines are going to put things to right, the key will be in keeping everything down there fresh in the memory of the American people. We have that tendency to forget things and move on... As a nation we've done well. The stories are starting to taper off in the media and local tv news about the effected areas and when that happens, memories fade a bit. Donations like this water purifier is what helps keep things fresh...

This is the type of technology that our government should be exploiting. Pollution free and energy free, why cann't our government step up and subsitize this technology so that we can all benefit?

This is what I like to see, Big companys doing the right thing with there money.Keep up the good work World Water and NAI Global.

WorldWater & Power deserves not just our thanks, but our business. These units should be part of the FEMA disaster strategy. They could be pumping energy back into the grid when not needed for hurricane response.

replying back to Art Boyt, Yes but when has the Goverment made ANY sense??? That would take brains and logic!!!!

but worldwater & power kudos to you!!

Not a bad temp solution to a problem. You think the Sun can provide 1000 horsepower motor 24/7 for the permanent solution. As usual, folks forget to upsize to actual requirements (5-6 million gals a day maybe). C'mon get real....go Nuclear and solve the miniscule problems with it. No, we'll just continue to imagine wind power, the Sun, hydrogen cells etc.. are the answer. Check the numbers and stop dreaming.

Very interesting that we must hear about this so long after the goverment should have been singing the praises of private firms doing their job.

Why isn't this being used in third world countries that have children dying every day from effects of contaminated water?????

Do you have a "in house" version of your works. USVORG@msn.com Don

I am in Gulfport MS, trying to work to help rebuild the coast. I have never seen such ill advised government spending in all my life. These people need help but FEMA needs people down here that see and understand the need. Not someone sitting in an ivory tower throughing money at something they don't understand. Some people have been showered with benifits and others have not had a penny. Insurance companies need to have a fire put under them to get these claims paid. The fact that someone from FEMA was excited about this system and then never called back exemplifies the systems problems down here.

FEMA and the USGov't should junp onto this product and use money from 'pork' projects to do so. This would aid the Gulf Coast and the poor countries to survive and prosper. What else is new, useful and ignored by 'big money', etc...Larry

It is wonderful to see all of this great technology that costs much less than other treatment systems and requires a fraction of the labor to run it. But it doesn't matter becasue none of these systems will be utilized because of the bureaucratic morons at FEMA.

Rusty is right. Our government is wasting precious money doing very lttle. My brother had 5 visits from different FEMA employees each one seemingly to check up on the one before him. Each one promised that a matress would be delivered to his trailer (he one of the lucky one who got shelter but without a matress! The matress has yet to arrive. How many more FEMA representatives will be paid bug bucks for wasted time. And where is the check for the repairs? They seem to have forgotten the really important issues. When I was home digging out debris and beginning the process toward gutting and rebuilding houses, I kept wondering why some of the military hadn't been assigned to working in the same capacity. It's time for our government to focus on what is really needed: like basic infrastucture, cleanup, and labor and materials to rebuild.

Responding to the comment questioning whether WorldWater's systems have been offered to Third World countries to help with access to potable water, I suggest visiting the following page on the WorldWater web site: http://www.worldwater.com/pages/international.html

WorldWater is involved in several humanitarian projects in the Third World

Sorry to rain on this parade, but this is nonsense. Typical high-tech overkill. $80,000!!!
There are excellent low-tech methods for filtering water that Third World communities, and most anybody else, can use now, and without some expensive gadget that has to be exported from a plant in New Jersey.
Slow Sand Filtration systems are widespread and work just fine, thank you. All you need is concrete, plastic pipe, and multiple grades of sand.

SOOO instead of just blogging each other why are we not sendig MULTIPLE FAXES AND BLOGS TO FEMA? ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO DO THIS?

ALSOwhy not build the houses HIGHER BY "WOODCHIPPING" THE SMASHED BUILDINGS INTO STREET LENGTH DYKES --THERE WERE REP[ORTEDLY 20,000 HOUSESA THAT WERE REDUCED TO PILES OF WOOD AND TRASH BY THE WATERS JUST IN NEW ORLEANS ALONE. THE RESULTING FOUNDATION COUL;D THEN HAVE CONCRETE POURED OVER IT AND THEN A NEW HOME COULD BE CONSTRUCTED ON TOP. PRESTO THE HOME OCCUPANT WOULD BE SEVERAL FEET OFF THE GROUND INCASE OF FUTURE FLOODS AND 100'S OF HOURS OF WORK PROVIDED FOR SEMI SKILLED LABORERS AS STREET BY STREET THE HOMES COULD BE REBUILT ON THE SAME LOTS WHERE THERE OWNERS LIVED BEFORE ----ONLY THIS TIME NOT BELOW SEA LEVEL!!

EXPLORE ANY ARCHAELOGICAL SITE ...ANCIENT PEOPLE REBUILT ON TOP OF RUINS ALL THE TIME.

AND FINALLY DIDNT ANYONE IN NEW ORLEANS EVER THINK ABOUT CONTACTING THE DUTCH---WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY EXPERT DYKIE BUILDERS AND MAINTENANCE PEOPLE?

NO OVERPRICED "EXPERTS" JUST FAX QUESTIONS OR EVEN EMAIL QUESTIONS TO THIR ACTUAL WORKERS WHO BUILT AND MAINTAIN THE DUTCH SYSTEMS.

I MEAN, IF YOU ARE DETERMINED TO LIVE BELOW WATER LEVEL, AREN APPARENTLY HAMPERED BY GENERATIONS OF GOVERNMENT GRAFT AND STUPIDITY ( THE HUEY LONG COPYCATS), ISNT IT TIME THE ACTUAL INHABITANTS ON THE GROUND GOT BUSY WITH THEIR OWN SOLUTIONS BEFORE THEY DROWN AGAIN?

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