OF ALL THE EARTH'S ENVIRONMENTAL ILLS, PROBABLY THE SINGLE MOST COMMON PROBLEM IS THE AVAILABILITY OF WATER. WHILE TWO-THIRDS OF THE EARTH IS COVERED BY WATER, ONLY A FRACTION OF IT IS USABLE BY THE PLANET'S EVER BURGEONING POPULATION. AND THAT POPULATION SEEMS BENT ON DESPOILING WHAT LITTLE WATER IS AVAILABLE.
CONSERVATION IS THE MOST IMMEDIATE ACTION THAT CAN BE TAKEN. HIGHER PROFILE, MORE EXPENSIVE ENGINEERING EFFORTS ARE LAUNCHED OCCASIONALLY, OFT TIMES RESULTING IN MORE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.
BUT AS MARKET TO MARKET REPORTED LAST AUTUMN, SOMETIMES A BLEND OF CONSERVATION AND INTELLIGENCE CAN PRODUCE A TECHNOLOGY THAT IS SUITABLE, INDEED APPLICABLE, THE WORLD OVER. JOHN NICHOLS EXPLAINS.
WATER IS THE WORLD'S MOST PRECIOUS NATURAL RESOURCE. IT'S THE LIFEBLOOD OF AGRICULTURE AND ITS ABSENCE CAN TRIGGER CATASTROPHES INCLUDING DUSTBOWLS, FAMINE AND EVEN WAR.
AS THE PBS DOCUMENTARY "CADILLAC DESERT" REPORTED IN 1997, AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST FOR WATER IN THE AMERICAN WEST LED TO HERCULEAN PROJECTS, SUCH AS THE LOS ANGELES AQUEDUCT AND THE HOOVER DAM... BOTH THE LARGEST ENGINEERING FEATS OF THEIR TIME.
UNTIL RECENTLY, MOST OF MAN'S EFFORTS IN HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING HAVE BEEN LIMITED TO DESALINATION OR DIVERTING WATER'S NATURAL FLOW TO THE SEA.
BUT A CALIFORNIA-BASED COMPANY HAS DEVELOPED NEW TECHNOLOGY IT HOPES WILL CHANGE THE WAY THE WORLD USES WATER.
THE COMPANY, LIKE THE PRODUCT IT SELLS, IS CALLED DRiWATER AND JOSEPH PATERNOSTER IS ITS PRESIDENT AND CEO.
Joseph Paternoster: "DRiWATER has positioned itself to become a worldwide leader in water technologies. The product's an all-natural product, made from 98% water and two percent food ingredient. This is actually the make-up of the product here. It's all-natural. You could actually eat this product. When this gel comes in contact with soil, there's bacteria in the soil that eats away one of the ingredients and releases the water. This one-quart size of water will actually water a small seedling tree for 90 to 100 days, anywhere in the world.
WHILE THE TECHNICAL PROCESS BY WHICH DRiWATER IS MANUFACTURED IS PROPRIETARY, THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS IS SIMPLE.
IT'S 98-PERCENT WATER, NEARLY 2-PERCENT VEGETABLE GUM AND A TRACE OF OTHER FOOD- GRADE SUBSTANCES. THE RESULTING GEL-LIKE PRODUCT IS NON-TOXIC AND BIODEGRADABLE.
DRiWATER IS APPLIED DIRECTLY TO THE ROOTS OF THE PLANT. SINCE NONE OF THE MOISTURE IS LOST TO EVAPORATION OR LEECHING, THE PLANT RECEIVES VIRTUALLY 100 PERCENT OF THE WATER.
DRiWATER IS POPULAR IN CALIFORNIA'S VINEYARDS AND ORCHARDS, WHERE THOUSANDS OF VINES AND TREES ARE REPLANTED ANNUALLY.
KEVIN CORLEY IS THE WINEGROWER FOR MONTICELLO VINEYARDS IN NAPA VALLEY.
Kevin Corley: "We don't want to over water the vines. It's important to have just the right amount. We get about 24, 25 inches of rain in Napa Valley, so we might have many years, for our mature vineyards that we would not irrigate at all. But the young the young ones, I'd like to have water on them all the time, every week if we could, but if we watered, you know, with through our drip system every week, it would throw this one off balance. So, the DRiWATER has been successful for us to put with each of the replants in mature vineyard blocks."
JUST A FEW MILES FROM DRiWATER'S CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS IN SANTA ROSA, PRICKETT'S NURSERY IS A RETAIL OUTLET FOR THE PRODUCT.
ESMERELDA BISHOP CLAIMS BOTH SHE AND HER CUSTOMERS ARE IMPRESSED WITH DriWATER.
Esmerelda Bishop: "We've got a strong clientele that come in you know faithful DriWATER users. They really like it and a people who hear about it ... it it's suits lots of peoples needs and you know we suggest it them and they're just amazed at something like that on the market. We use it here and uh; it flies out of here."
THE PRODUCT ALSO IS USED IN SETTINGS WHERE WATER IS SCARCE, OR ABSENT ALTOGETHER.
SINCE FEDERAL LAW REQUIRES MINING COMPANIES TO RESTORE AREAS TO THEIR PRE-MINED CONDITIONS, THE INDUSTRY USES DRiWATER TO REVEGETATE THE SITES AS PART OF THE RECLAMATION PROCESS.
THE PRODUCT IS ALSO EMPLOYED BY STATE TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENTS, IN THEIR CONSTRUCTION AND RESTORATION PROJECTS.
DRiWATER IS ESPECIALLY POPULAR IN AREAS WITH STEEP TERRAIN, LIKE THIS SITE IN THE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS, WHERE CONVENTIONAL IRRIGATION WOULD SIMPLY RUN DOWN THE HILLSIDE.
THE PRODUCT CAN ALSO BE FOUND IN URBAN AREAS WHERE IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO IRRIGATE CONVENTIONALLY.
DAN NEFF IS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SANTA ROSA PARKS DEPARTMENT.
Dan Neff: "We have about ninety-four medians and little islands in the middle of streets. And this particular one was a real challenge because it use to be strictly a traffic island and then had some hard soil on it. It has never had any water on it and it was kind of the eyesore of the islands. I think for this application where we didn't have water, it has worked out very well. It's been through a pretty hot dry spell here the last few weeks, and it's doing real well."
WHILE DOMESTIC SALES ARE ON THE RISE, THE REAL MARKET FOR DRiWATER IS IN THE ARID MIDDLE EAST, WHERE THE PRODUCT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO RADICALLY CHANGE ENVIRONMENTS AND ECONOMIES.
Joe Paternoster: "A quart of water, we sell to the commercial marketplace for a dollar forty for a three to three and a half months of water. Domestically in 1999 we'll probably sell about a million dollars of DRiWATER. Internationally, Egypt where we've done our biggest pilot project, we've actually put eight million liters of this product in the ground in the last two years. We sell the product right now in about 30 different countries around the world."
THE PROJECT PATERNOSTER REFERS TO IS TAKING PLACE NEAR CAIRO, EGYPT.
IT IS HERE, IN THE SAHARA DESERT DEVELOPMENT KNOWN AS "THE SIXTH OF OCTOBER CITY", THAT DRiWATER RECENTLY PLANTED ITS TWO MILLIONTH TREE.
Joe Paternoster: "The Egyptian government a few years ago realized that in downtown Cairo, you have an excess of 20 million people in a very small area. So, the government realized this and felt that if they built new cities outside of Cairo, they could move people out of the cities, take some of the land that they've converted to housing and convert those back into agricultural areas. The sixth of October is the first city in Egypt of the new cities that will be built."
ULTIMATELY, THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT HAS CONTRACTED WITH DRiWATER TO PLANT 17 MILLION TREES IN THE SIXTH OF OCTOBER CITY.
THE AMBITIOUS PROJECT SERVES AS A DRAMATIC TESTAMENT TO THE PRODUCT'S VIABILITY AND ITS POTENTIAL TO GENERATE PROFITS.
FINANCES ASIDE, PATERNOSTER CLAIMS THE COMPANY HAS LOFTY GOALS FOR THE FUTURE.
Paternoster: "We look at DriWATER as the means to end starvation and a product that can also do a lot to stabilize peace in certain areas of the world. And Jordan, Israel, the new Palestine area really have substantial water problems. They've tapped into their aquifer so much, that at some point, and they estimate in the year 2010 they will run out of water in that region. So, it's a very high ambition, but to end starvation, stabilize world peace, but in certain areas, we can do this better than any other product in the world today."
FOR MARKET TO MARKET, I'M JOHN NICHOLS.