From healing spring to water from thin air: Couple shares journey of having clean water following alarming test results

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BAMBERG/BARNWELL COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — A couple in a Bamberg County, South Carolina town are looking for alternatives after finding out their water tested high for levels of lead and other contaminants. Their journey to safe water is moving less from the dependence of city water to new technology. One that could soon be available to everyone in the city but it’s not an easy one.

Every few weeks, it starts as a trip, to Blackville, South Carolina to a spring that legend has it has healing properties.

Eugene Smith and Paula Brown take multiple trips throughout the month to a natural spring in Blackville after having concerns over the drinking water in Denmark, South Carolina. Hope to share this story as well as the new technology they have at their home which gives them even more independence from the City’s water system on WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Monday, July 15, 2019

“I’ve known about it since I’ve been a little boy,” Eugene Smith told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.

Prior to coming to the spring, the pair of citizen scientists have been collecting water samples for years. Turning their living room into a makeshift lab where jars of discolored water are dated for future examination.
Credit: Shawn Cabbagestalk – WJBF NewsChannel 6

Smith, as well as Paula Brown, have lived in the area for a number of years. The pair started the conversation on water quality in one Bamberg County, South Carolina town after their water tested high for lead. Now two to three times a month, it’s almost like a ritual, the pair takes a trip to a natural spring that they say came from a higher being. “The first time I enjoyed coming up here I really don’t like to come up here. It just doesn’t seem right that we have to haul water and we are paying for water and we have to haul water,” Paula Brown said.

Some residents in Denmark, South Carolina don't trust their tap water.

Some residents in Denmark, South Carolina don't trust their tap water. LISTEN as Eugene Smith shares his story on the quest for answers and solutions. https://www.wjbf.com/news/csra-news/-something-is-wrong-and-we-know-it-s-wrong-lawyers-denmark-residents-meet-concerning-water-issue/1603584363

Posted by Shawn Cabbagestalk WJBF on Saturday, November 17, 2018

The road traveled is a difficult one with Smith having issues with his leg following health problems and Smith having arthritis. “I know the water is good for me but I just like putting on the gloves, that will help me for my hands to get real cold,” she said. But the journey it’s one that gives them a peace of mind. Prior to coming to the spring, the pair of citizen scientists have been collecting water samples for years. Turning their living room into a makeshift lab where jars of discolored water are dated for future examination. “Since 2011 this thing has been growing in there,” Smith said while showing Shawn a jar of water with a date on it.

Zero Mass Water system atop Eugene Smith and Paula Brown’s home.
Credit: Shawn Cabbagestalk – WJBF NewsChannel 6

But now the journey to less dependence of the City’s water has turned a bit futuristic with solar panels that pull water out of the air. “If the water is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing, they will call us and let us know and call us,” Smith said.

Water from Source Hydropanels from Zero Mass Water are an off-grid technology which creates drinking water using sunlight and air. SOURCE uses solar energy to raise the dewpoint inside the Hydropanels, driving passive condensation which results in high-quality drinking water— similar to distilled.  “I think we get over 100 – 120 bottles of water a day from the panels,” Smith added.

Since launching in 2015, the company has installed its panels in 30 different countries. The product is available online but Zero Mass Water also works with developers, local governments, and nonprofits to deliver water sources to at-risk communities. Now local organizations are hoping to get the system in areas in the CSRA.

“It feels good because Paula has been fighting for the people in this town for over 11 years,” Smith recalls. “Now when they came and gave us a source for water, and some can be stored on schools, businesses, and houses. Clean drinking water for everyone,” he added.

Eugene Smith and Paula Brown using the Zero Mass Water system inside of their South Carolina home.
Credit: Shawn Cabbagestalk – WJBF NewsChannel 6

The system is now giving Eugene and Paula options. “It’s amazing to have this and we are thankful for having this,” Brown said.

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