It’s Time for Less Oil, More Water in the Amazon

The ClearWater project began in 2011 with the dream of providing every family of the Siona, Secoya, Kofán and Waorani indigenous nations affected by oil contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon with access to clean drinking water.

Help us reach our goal.

Ensuring access to clean water in the Amazon

For more than half-a-century indigenous peoples of Ecuador’s northern Amazon have lived downriver from Ecuador’s largest oil fields. With the rivers and creeks contaminated, families were forced to either bathe and drink from unsafe sources, or travel long distances to find clean spring water.

Together, we are building rainwater harvesting systems for every Kofan, Siona, Secoya, and Waorani family in Ecuador’s oil-affected Amazon. Community members are trained to lead every aspect of project implementation, from system installation to project coordination to system maintenance, thus ensuring the rainwater catchment systems will continue to provide families with access to clean, safe drinking water for years to come.

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Water Systems Installed

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People Benefited

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The Technology

Rainwater is harvested from rooftop gutter-spouts on people’s homes, with the flow diverted into a first tank where the water passes through a specially-designed biosand filter. The water passes through four layers of filtration:

  1. A biologically active surface layer,
  2. A fine sand layer,
  3. A layer of crushed quartz, and finally,
  4. A layer of coarse gravel.

The top hypogeal layer (called a “Schmutzdecke”), contains microorganisms that remove bacteria, trap contaminants, and break down other incoming organic material. The next two layers work together to create a complex maze of sand grains that microbes get trapped in and die. They also trap contaminants such as toxic metals and petroleum pollution, which stick to the sand as they flow by in a process called adsorption. Finally, the layer of gravel serves as a support to the sand and quartz layers so nothing flushes out of the tank as the clean water flows into a second, large anti-bacterial storage tank. Turn the faucet on the storage tank and watch the abundant flow of safe, clean, clear water.

"Without clean water we can't survive."

- Emergildo Criollo

Who We Are

The ClearWater project is a collaboration between the indigenous organization Ceibo Alliance, the US organization Amazon Frontlines, and a small network of foundations including Saving an Angel, Rainforest Fund, and Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation. Together we are working to ensure that every indigenous family of the Kofan, Siona, Secoya and Waorani indigenous nations affected by oil contamination have access to clean drinking water.