Water resources Summary Report No.136


Water-intro-wbFresh water serves as a nexus for population health, aquatic/terrestrial habitat, food production, and economic development, but its availability is threatened by growing demand, reduced supply, disruptive climate events and deteriorating quality. New collaborative research and entrepreneurial projects in the field are paving the way for more sustainable management of this dwindling critical resource.


Rolling out waterwheels in India


Wello WaterWheels has come a long way since Cynthia Koenig, Erb ’11, arrived in India in September 2011. The Wello team co-created the WaterWheel 2.0 and 2.5 prototypes with consumers in rural India, validated the design through a pilot that reached 1,500 people and sold out its first WaterWheel production run. As of mid-2013, 50 WaterWheels were in daily use in India. “With better, more reliable access to water, men tend to share the burden of water collection, Koenig explains. “This means that women have more time for other tasks, girls are more likely to attend school and the health of the entire family improves.” More: Cynthia Koenig – water wheels

Spearheading a river renaissance along the Huron

laura-rubin-03-520Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dexter and other southeastern Michigan communities located within the seven-county, 900-square-mile Huron River watershed are celebrating a “river renaissance,” spearheaded by Laura Rubin, Erb ’95, executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council. “When the Huron was industrial and dirty, most communities had their backs to the river,” explains Rubin, who has transformed the nonprofit into a high-impact, high-visibility national leader in the field of watershed management. “People are recognizing the value of being a river town and exploring ways to turn this beautiful resource into an amenity that adds recreational, economic and cultural value to the area.” More: Laura Rubin -Watershed Council


Creating a business to deliver clean water

Ursula Jessee

Ursula Jessee and Alex Papo, both Erb ’15, have developed a sustainable, inclusive model for delivering clean water and biodiesel fuel for energy production to poor rural communities that lack access to these two critical resources. Their proposed entrepreneurial venture, called ArborAqua, makes the business case for cultivating and harvesting the Moringa tree, which grows rapidly in tropical climates. Read more

Jessee has lived overseas for 19 years and witnessed widespread poverty in developing nations, such as Egypt, Nicaragua and Bolivia. These insights into life at the base of the pyramid have ignited a strong desire to improve living conditions for people facing economic hardship.  “My calling in life is to devise ways to address these inequities and to bring promising opportunities to those who are less fortunate,” Jessee explains. She says the Erb Institute has provided the resources she needs to pursue some of her entrepreneurial ideas and also has reshaped her thinking about sustainability. More: Papo and Jessee delivering clean water