Fighting the California Wildfires With Water Made From Air

An Israeli company brought a special emergency response vehicle that can pull water from the air to California to support the firefighters battling the flames.

(Aarti Kalyani /

There is nothing as refreshing as a bottle of clean great tasting water, especially if you are hot and tired and incredibly thirsty. That’s the usual condition of a firefighter on the front lines of a wildfire.

An Israeli water technology firm recognized the need for clean drinking water and brought one of its machines that can pull water from the air to the firefighters combatting the raging Californian wildfire.

“The chairman of our company in Israel believes very strongly in humanitarian efforts to assist those who have lost everything in California,” said Mr. Yehuda Kaploun, President of Watergen US in the company's press release. “If we can help relieve the burden by providing them with clean water, that is something that we will most definitely do."

The US branch of Watergen brought one of its emergency response vehicles (ERV) to California to help the brave men and women battling the flames. This all-terrain ERV carries the 800 Kilogram (1,763 lbs.) GEN-350 machine that provides 600 liters (156 gallons) of water a day.

The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road where it originated, started on November 8 and destroyed 17,000 buildings, burned over 150,000 acres and killed 81 people. On November 25, it was finally put out but will be remembered as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

“Providing the police and firefighters with the basic necessity of drinking water allows them to serve and help for longer periods of time,” said the CEO of Watergen US, Ed Russo. “It would especially reduce the need for plastic bottles, which sitting in the sun would be unhealthy.”

Helping the firefighters was natural for Watergen, a company that is known for its clean water initiatives and for providing humanitarian disaster relief. Watergen USA has helped in many disasters in the past, including Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in South Florida and Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.

The company was even on the World Economic Forum's list of the world's top technology pioneers in 2018.

Watergen USA also launched a Go Fund Me campaign where it has promised to match the goal of $300,000 to give two additional ERVs equipped with the GEN-350 to help provide clean drinking water to the fire victims.

There are other atmospheric water generating devices, including Zero Mass which is designed to use solar energy and Drinkable Air, a company whose device can be used as a dehumidifier.

The cost of water from these types of devices depends on the price of electricity. Watergen claims to be the most cost-effective machine producing 4 liters of water for every kilowatt of energy at a cost of fewer than 2 cents per liter.

“There’s a water crisis in this country, and when there’s an emergency, we believe it’s best to provide a humanitarian effort to provide water for needy people,” Russo said.

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