At a Glance
Residents of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation faced water shortages and contaminated water. Using solar-powered water collection systems, the community now have access to 160 gallons of drinking water produced per day.
The Warm Springs Indian Reservation, located on 640,000 acres of high desert and forest in Oregon, is home to approximately 5,000 people divided amongst three native tribes: the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute.
Most homes on the reservation face issues with their water supply. Either they aren’t piped to the existing infrastructure or they are connected but the infrastructure is old and water delivered to the residents isn’t drinkable. An estimated one in 10 Indigenous Americans across the nation lack access to safe tap water or basic sanitation.
When pipes and pumps failed, residents resorted to purchasing bottled or tanked water if available and if not, simply boiling water to make it drinkable. However, a solution was needed that could provide water for the entire community instead of forcing residents to find solutions on their own.
Warm Springs Indian Reservation used/is using solar-powered water collection systems to address this/these challenge(s).
The first wave of a new solution to providing drinking water came in the summer of 2021, when private donations covered the cost of installing 200 hydropanels that create drinking water by absorbing water vapor out of the air. The panels, mounted either on a roof or on the ground, purify the water through heat from the sun while also adding necessary minerals.
The 200 panels were installed in the Warm Springs community, producing 160 gallons of drinking water per day. Residents can drive up to the site and fill up for free. By the end of 2021, the project site, referred to as the reservation’s hydropanel “farm”, is expected to encompass an acre’s worth of land through the purchase of 300 additional hydropanels using COVID relief money. With this expansion, the reservation’s hydropanels are predicted to produce 720 gallons per day.
The project site is accessible to the public once a week, on Mondays and is operated by Warm Springs Ventures, a non-profit organization that develops business opportunities for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
Jim Souers, CEO of Warm Springs Ventures, says of the project, “It’s amazing. Priority one, this is a project to serve the community.”
For those not located close to the center of the reservation, fifty homes were chosen to have two panels installed and now benefit from 16 gallons of drinking water per day available right at their tap.
- Residents have local access to free, uncontaminated drinking water
- After the expansion Warm Springs will have access to 720 gallons of drinking water per day
- Warm Springs’ water supply was increased without the need to build major infrastructure
- 14 jobs were created to service and build out the hydropanel project site
- 50 households on the reservation outskirts now receive drinking water from roof-installed hydropanels
Who Should Consider?
Communities whose unreliable sources of water lead them to look for alternative water sources without building major infrastructure