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New water system promises to fix water crisis

Mario Caggiano, president and CEO of Caggiano Advanced Engineered Systems and Technologies (CAEST), says his new water system technology can help solve water problems in First Nations communities. (Daniel J. Rowe The Eastern Door)

PH2OCP System.

It sounds like something straight out of Star Wars, but the Montreal-based company that developed the new technology says it’s the key to helping First Nations continually plagued with boil water advisories.

“This was truly from the get-go, a Canadian initiative and we want to keep it a Canadian initiative. Why not address the problem that we have in our own backyard?” said Mario Caggiano, the president and CEO of Caggiano Advanced Engineered Systems and Technologies (CAEST).

According to Caggiano, the largest source of untapped water in the world lies in the moisture and water vapors found within the atmosphere and air.

“Around the world at any one time, we’ve got 37 million-billion gallons, which is the equivalent of two oceans suspended over our head,” he said.

His company’s new technology is a portable water and climatic production system that transforms moisture vapors in the air for water production in any climate.

“People overseas can’t believe that when they ask how is it in Canada, that we actually have water problems? We’re supposed to be the water leaders and water suppliers of the world,” said Caggiano.

According to the Government of Canada, 28 First Nations communities had short-term drinking water advisories as of January 31, while 96 communities had an advisory in place for more than a year.

“Like a lot of communities out there, we have those boil water advisories every so often even though we’re sitting right on a lake, the systems that they have do not produce the quality of water that you would expect,” said Terence McBride, a former band council chief in Timiskaming.

McBride’s company Ogima Resources is one of the two First Nations companies helping promote the water system as an ideal solution for the drinking water crisis.

“In communities where you have these (water bottles), it’s costly to get these into a community, especially if you’re talking remote areas. This will replace that because these units can be adapted to any climate. It could be the arctic, dessert, or this area. It doesn’t matter,” said McBride.

“One of the things that the government does, they’ll put a minimum requirement for their testing, as long as you meet those minimum standards, you’re all set, but that doesn’t mean that you have quality like this. On top of that when they design a system for a community, they’ll only design for what you have today.

“Let’s say you have 300-400 houses, well your system will only meet that demand. There’s no long-term planning.”

In addition to Ogima Resources, Caggiano’s company is partnering with Mamu Construction in Mashteuiatsh to carry out the infrastructure and installation work. They hope to have one installed in an Indigenous community soon to prove its merit.

“We really wanted to tag team with First Nations companies that already have the expertise, knowledge, networks and the contacts,” said Caggiano.

“Our system has been designed to be eco-friendly, maximum efficiently output and capabilities, and performance. We build to customize because not every shoe fits every foot. You have to look at the application, the needs – the needs in Africa are not the needs in northern Canada.”

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Jessica Deer was a staff reporter from 2015-2018 who started out in 2008 as a summer student.