We are very fortunate to have a new and vigorous young volunteer from Chile. Nicolás Zanetta Colombo, is a geographer from the Centro del Desierto de Aatacama of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He traveled to Guatemala to work at the FogQuest village fog-water collection project in Tojquia in early September.
His main tasks were to interact with the people of the village through group meetings and personal discussions in order to establish their views on the status of the water project and also to assist with some needed repairs to seven of the large fog collectors. The 35 LFCs have now been providing water for 10 years since their construction in 2006 and some of the mesh required replacement or repair. The LFCs produce an average of about 7000 L of fog water a day during the dry season when there is no rain. This water is provided directly to individual homes and farms.
The families remain very grateful to FogQuest for the project and one of the major benefits is the time saved by the families by not having to walk big distances looking for water in the dry season. There is a general motivation within the community to organize in order to maximize the benefits. After the meetings with Nicolás a water committee was organized and endorsed by the families in the village.
Their ideas on how to advance will be reported back to FogQuest and we will continue to work with them in the year to come. There are many social and technical tasks still to undertake but the village needs and the benefits of the water are both very real.
In order to determine how much water has been collected by a Standard Fog Collector, or indeed any fog collector, one needs a regular record of the water produced. The low cost way to do this is to have an observer measure the amount of water in a container each day. This has advantages and disadvantages. It is something that is discussed in our manual. In locations where it is safe to put instrumentation out with the SFC we have used various measurement techniques over the years. There is always a trade-off between performance and cost. We need low cost and durable data loggers.
Byron Bignell, who recently returned from Nepal (as noted below) the spent considerable time and effort developing a new data logging system. We are presently testing this in Nepal and in Kamloops, British Columbia. When we have some definitive results we will present them on this website and in our newsletter.
In May of this year FogQuest volunteer Byron Bignell returned to update a pilot project (2013) in the Ilam district of eastern Nepal. This was just after a series of earthquakes had resulted in widespread casualties and damage throughout the country.
The eastern district had been spared the worst tremors and experienced only minor damage. Thankfully this project was not damaged and is currently operational. Once the collection data have been retrieved and analyzed the decision whether to move forward with a larger system will be made.
An update to this project will be included in our next newsletter.
Wesley Dowling, from Wyoming in the USA, is working on a new project on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Wes did a training course with FogQuest run by Virginia Carter in Santiago Chile and he is using mesh provided by FogQuest.
His self directed and funded fog collection project will assist people in communities near where he has worked on other water projects over the years.
FogQuest work is carried out by volunteers, with no salaries. A number of people contribute many hours of their time and often contribute significantly financially as well. It is a challenge keeping a small charity operational for 15 years as we have done. What success we have had is in very large part due to our volunteers and to our supporters.
Harry Makepeace in Ontario Canada has been in charge of our shipments of mesh to all parts of the world for some time now. His help and expertise is often not visible to people who request and receive mesh for their fog collectors but it is an essential part of what we do.
Nicolas Zanetta from Chile is a young man with experience using fog collectors at the Atacama Desert Centre. FogQuest built a large fog collector there a number of years ago with help from a Rotary group in Canada. FogQuest of course has a long history of working at different projects in Chile. Nicolas will be travelling to our project in the Guatemala highlands in August to review the project there.
American readers of this site will be very aware of the lack of water at present for both the urban areas and for agriculture in California. As a result of this we get many questions about whether the collection of fog water may be a solution or partial solution to the water problems. In fact, it can be a valuable source of water in selected locations along the California coast; however, it will not be the answer to water shortages experienced in cities or for the immense agricultural areas in the interior valleys.
We answer questions as best we can, provide advice on using the small Standard Fog Collector to evaluate fog collection at specific locations, and send out mesh so people can build their own SFCs on their properties. Below in this section is an article about how Chris Fogliatti in the San Francisco Bay Area is working with several groups to make measurements with SFCs. We have also had a long-standing relationship with Prof. Daniel Fernandez in Monterey who is doing scientific studies using SFCs.
7th International Conference on Fog, Fog Collection and Dew To be held 24 to 29 July 2016 Wroclaw, Poland
The organizing committee of the “7th International Conference on Fog, Fog Collection and Dew” has formally announced that the conference will be held at the University of Wroclaw, Poland from 24-29 July 2016.
We have attached a file with the first brochure for the conference. It contains an outline of the sessions to be held and all of the contact information and prices. We also give below the URL for the fog conference site. We encourage all of those interested in the broad themes of the conference to consider attending. You may contact the organizers directly for any additional information you might require.
FogQuest is not a sponsor of the conference nor an organizer but we have a great interest in the success of the meeting. This conference series started in 1998 in Vancouver, Canada, followed by meetings in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada (2001), Cape Town, South Africa (2004), La Serena, Chile (2007), Münster, Germany (2010) and Yokohama, Japan (2013). Dr. Robert Schemenauer, the Executive Director of FogQuest, started the conference series 17 years ago.
October 2014 – Fog Water for Coastal California : Evaluation at Tilden East Bay Regional Park, San Francisco
It is evident to those who live in California that there is fog along the coast at certain times of the year. The collection of fog by trees was noted in the late 1800s. The value of fog water for sustaining trees and other vegetation was studied in the 1900s and some measurements were made of fog collection rates. There continue to be some studies of fog collection fluxes along the coast in more recent years.
FogQuest is frequently contacted by individuals and institutions in California for our opinion on whether fog collection can be a viable water supply in select locations. Our response is cautiously positive but we emphasize that a proper evaluation using small Standard Fog Collectors (SFCs) must be done to define how much water can be collected and what the seasonality of the water collection is. Very few of these queries from individuals result in measurements that are done in a manner that might be useful in defining the resource. An exception is the initiation of a short-term study by Chris Fogliatti in recent months.
Chris built a modified SFC and some other mesh panels and installed them on Vollmer Peak in Tilden East Bay Regional Park at an elevation of 1820 feet (555 m). This is on the east side of San Francisco Bay above Berkeley. The setup is shown in the photo. At the site he chose, there was fog collection on about one day in three from late September to mid-October. The average collection rate was about 2 liters of water per square meter of mesh per day (a half a gallon per square yard) over the three week period. This is a low rate but would provide a useful source of clean water for vegetation and perhaps other uses. The results are encouraging and Chris plans to build new collectors that closely follow the design of the standard and also will relocate his collectors to potentially better sites. He has a background in environmental toxicology and is also interested in the chemistry of the fog water.
FogQuest is a small charity and Chris is operating on a low budget. If you would like to help support this work and move towards more measurements in the San Francisco area, please make a donation using the PayPal button on our website, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 2014 – FogQuest at the Genoa Science Festival in November
FogQuest will provide a model of a large fog collector for display at the Genoa Science Festival in Italy. We will also do a live interview during the festival. This is part of the educational mandate of our charity where we provide information to the public on the benefits of this non-conventional source of water.
September 2014 – FogQuest To Begin an Evaluation Project in Honduras
In cooperation with ECOVIDA Global, who leads the project, FogQuest will initiate an evaluation project using Standard Fog Collectors (SFCs) in the central mountains of Honduras. Two of our volunteers will be in the field to install the SFCs. The project has a goal of helping 1000 Mayan villagers obtain clean water and will begin in November. An update will be posted once the project is underway.
August 2014 – FogQuest Training Session on the Construction of Fog Collectors
FogQuest has now started formal training sessions on how to construct a large fog collector (LFC). They are being done in Chile by an experienced member of the FogQuest team, Virginia Carter. Virginia has supervised construction on FogQuest projects in South and Central America as well as in Africa. The first course took place in August. This two-day course includes a detailed look at all the components of an LFC, a hands-on building experience at a site near Santiago, and a discussion of safety, site selection, and other related issues. The person being trained is responsible for his/her own travel and insurance costs as well as all material and other expenses related to the training session.
How have the 35 Large Fog Collectors (LFCs) held up in Tojquia after another dry season? This is the question I recently sought to answer. Though we at FogQuest remain committed to our projects, we approach ongoing operation and maintenance issues with a little apprehension. The task of caring for a collector cannot rest with a development agency or charity, such as ourselves, the onus is on the beneficiaries to “take ownership” of the technology for themselves. But, many issues might prevent adequate maintenance, such as a lack of access to parts or tools, a lack of time or knowledge in undertaking these tasks. Sometimes the locals have little control over some of these issues. The one we worry most about, however, is a lack of will.
I am full of questions. Did the collectors remain functional? Has the mesh remained taut despite strong winds? Do the troughs have leaks? Ultimately, does the community continue to support this technology? Tell me everything, I inquired of one particular community leader named Lázaro. Integral to our efforts from the very first build in 2006, Lázaro serves as a broker of sorts, a community coordinator. He plays a vital role by encouraging participation and leading by example. He ensures the villagers come together to support each other with maintenance tasks.
Specifically, he tells me the collectors are “magníficos” (magnificent) – his word! He shared with me how the collectors have provided enough water during the dry season that nearly no trips to faraway watering holes were necessary. The household tanks were almost always full of fog water, he stated. Everyone continues to be happy with the LFCs. Some nets have needed minor sewing, others trough repairs, but all of them – all 35 systems – are in good working condition. In fact, he recently got together with some neighbours to complete cable tightening (a maintenance task) on a particularly remote collector. The collector he referred to belongs to a very elderly couple who are unable to do this task for themselves.
In Tojquia, Fernanda and I have worked very hard to teach maintenance techniques and instill a sense of confidence in the villagers. We have insisted that they can, and should, take care of this technology so that it can last them a long time. Working in collaboration with each other, getting over differences, and finding solutions together through dialogue is the only way the community can develop. We always emphasize these points during our short field stints, but, these ideas are not so easily taught. Instead, they need to be made part of the local culture. They need to be accepted beliefs by the villagers and put into practice. Fortunately, for yet another dry season, the villagers have done just that. They have addressed the technical needs of the collectors, have done so collaboratively, and have realized the direct benefits to their families. Since the first collectors were installed in 2006, they have been cared for and are functional in Tojquia. The will persists, the way is there.
Though my calls sometimes start with a few nervous questions, I know the most unsettling one of all awaits me at the end of the conversation. When I speak with any villager, inevitably they will ask: “When will FogQuest come visit us again?” Help us continue to expand fog collection technology more widely and impact even more communities such as Tojquia. A donation to FogQuest today can make this happen.
– Melissa Rosato
Fog Collection | Rainwater Collection | Rural Water Projects