Flint crisis: Israeli invention that makes water from air arrives to help Midwest town
Michigan businessman donates innovative device to local church, where it is providing drinking water to 500 people a day.
As with most things in life, it all started with a Google search.
Armstrong Williams, a Michigan-based businessman and owner of a local NBC affiliate, was on a trip in Washington, D.C. He had just attended an event at the Israeli embassy and was sifting through the gift bag. Inside, he saw a blue bottle with a Watergen logo on it.
Being from Flint, a city that's been dealing with a contaminated water crisis since 2014, the 57-year-old Williams was intrigued. He started googling "Watergen" as he was leaving the event. What he discovered was that the Israeli-founded company had invented a device that makes clean drinking water out of thin air. This is how the technology works:
Thankfully, Williams looked up from his phone to briefly contemplate what he had just learned. In that moment, on display outside the embassy was an actual Watergen machine.
"I knew exactly what it looked like, because I started doing research on it on my phone," Williams recalled to From The Grapevine. "I walked up and there was this guy with a beard and he invited me to taste the water. What he didn't realize was I'd just been looking for something to support Flint that would be a game changer. It was a spiritual moment."
Williams' discussion with Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA, on that fateful day in May is already bearing fruit. Williams, who is also a nationally syndicated TV and radio host, donated $75,000 to have a Watergen machine shipped to Flint for the local community to use. "You've taken people who've had hopelessness that the solution would be resolved and given them hope with a very practical solution," Kaploun said.
Initially, they were going to have the Watergen machine – which can provide water to nearly 500 people a day – delivered to the NBC station. But Williams wanted to find a place that was more accessible to the community. So the machine was instead sent to the Greater Flint Holy Temple, a church that services the local area. "I knew it was a place where people can find trust, worthiness, where they can find comfort," Williams explained.
Williams had another spiritual moment as the machine was installed at a groundbreaking ceremony last week. "I'll never forget when this 80-year-old lady walked up and tasted the water and she almost screamed. She said it was like water from heaven. She said she's never tasted water that pure before. Only then did I know that this seems like mana from heaven and people began to trust it. They began to believe."
I’m joining the efforts of correcting the #FlintWaterCrisis that started in 2014 by donating a @WatergenUSA system to help improve the drinking water for thousands of Flint residents affected by the lead that leaked into the Flint river. Going LIVE on @facebook at 10 AM! Tune in! pic.twitter.com/8Y4ehVF1fJ— Armstrong Williams (@Arightside) July 10, 2019
Kaploun sees this partnership as the start of something bigger, and hopes to expand the pilot program to other community centers in Flint – and even beyond Michigan. "Over 70 million Americans currently have problems with their drinking water," Kaploun told us. "Recent reports show that there are Flints in nearly every state."
Watergen has been busy the past few years – bringing their technology to help with the recovery from the recent California wildfires, droughts in Florida, and to villages in Africa, Vietnam and Costa Rica in need of clean drinking water. They've worked closely with FEMA, the Red Cross and other NGOs to help provide clean water after natural disasters. The company, whose R&D is done in Israel, was named the winner of the Bill Ford Better World Challenge last month for providing safe water to a province in South Africa that services some 3,400 households, as well as dozens of early childhood development centers and schools.
The scientists are relying on decades of water innovation techniques developed in Israel. "They are the leaders in the world of water," Kaploun said. "As the chairman of our company, Michael Mirilashvili, says, 'Our goal and responsibility is to save the world and to change the world for the better.'"
As for Flint, Williams is not fazed by the fact that he was only introduced to Watergen two months ago, and it's already making an impact on his hometown. "You take this gift with two people who are like-minded and you run with it and you can create a revolution. And you can do it so quickly that you can almost not even bat an eye it happened so quick," Williams told us. "And that's what people need to know, that it can be something bordering on the miraculous. And that's what people need because they've suffered for so long. It needs to happen quickly. It needs to happen instantaneously. It needs to happen with rapid fire where people begin to believe again and it spreads, not just in places like Flint. That it creates a revolution in the United States and everywhere else that Watergen is, making people believe when you can take the water like a humidifier from the air that we breathe and you can turn it into water."
Williams paused, and then added: "This is who we are. This is what our purpose is: to serve mankind and to make life better wherever we are."
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Related Topics: Environment