Eco filter

Best of Guate | GuatexplorerIn the 1980s, José Fernando Mazariegos worked at the Central American Institute of Research and Industrial Technology, and together with his group of researchers presented in 1980 a filter that is now known as Ecofiltro.

 

The project was a device to filter water made from a mixture of clay with pine sawdust, all covered with a colloidal silver varnish, which retains 99% of bacteria and faecal matter, present in almost all the piped water of the country. Because the project was never patented on behalf of Mazariegos, the filter is today manufactured in more than 37 developing countries and guarantees the consumption of clean water to millions of people at very low cost.

"I did not want to patent it because the goal was for the project to have a global impact," says the experienced engineer, adding that the first plant that mass produced the eco filter was not installed in Guatemala but in Ecuador. Mazariegos' invention inspired Phillip Wilson, an English entrepreneur based in Guatemala, to found the Ecofiltro company that currently operates in the San Lorenzo El Cubo Village, Antigua Guatemala.

"We started the factory in Alta Verapaz where the clay quarry is, but to achieve greater coverage and have a mass production line, we had to move to where we are now," explains Wilson. The goal of Ecofiltro is to get one million homes in Guatemala to have potable water through its device.

"We have a network of managers and community leaders who make sure that users make good use of the filter and that when the warranty runs out this will be replaced," said Ariana Pizzatti, Director of Marketing for Ecofiltro. On their website ecofiltro.com you can register your product and thus follow its working life. The advice of the manufacturer is to change the eco filter every two years.

The price of one eco filter in rural remote areas is around Q 300 – around USD 40, while in the capital it is around USD 60. Now, the final price depends on the type of housing you want - ones with inox housing can cost up to USD 250. Every unit is carefully tested before leaving the factory. The goals are: to have 2 million Guatemalan households with eco filter and to establish normal yearly production at one million units. It would mean that around 50 % of Guatemalans would be covered by drinkable water from the eco filter. Without chemical additives, usage of plastic or additional costs. The price of pure water is ridiculously small and in eco filter maintenance soap or chlorine are simply not used: you clean eco filter with the water it produces!

Photos: ECOFILTRO

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