People living on desert edge catch water from fog
August 27, 1996
Web posted at: 12:40 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Ronnie Lovler
CHUNGUNGO, Chile (CNN) -- It's the sight people have been
watching for all day in this small coastal village -- fog
rolling in. (811K QuickTime movie)
It's the start of a unique water-making system called "cloud
harvesting" or "fog catching."
When the fog makes contact with specially strung nets, it
will soon be converted to much-needed water.
"The idea was that in some parts of Chile, there are great
concentrations of vegetation that have no reason to exist
because there is no rainfall," said project director
Alejandro Cruzat. "The source of water is the fog."
To harvest fog, 82 large square nets trap the water that then
drips into a tube. The water passes through an attached hose
and pipelines to a holding tank.
The people of Chungungo, which sits on the edge of the vast
Atacama Desert, no longer have to depend on the water trucks
that would make sporadic visits to their community.
Daisy Sasmaya, president of the neighborhood council, boasts
of her new shower and shows off her garden. She says people
can now shower every day and water their plants regularly.
Another resident said she can now wash her clothes when she
needs to, rather than having to wait for long periods of
Chile's fog-catching project, one of the first in the world,
started with funding from the Canadian government a few years
Scientists come from around the world to see if they can
apply the techniques in their countries. Vilho Mtuleni, of
the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, said his priority
is finding ways to get water to people and livestock in arid
areas. (372K AIFF or WAV sound)
What he and other visitors see in Chile is that tiny airborne
drops of water can go a long way if you know what you're