Dr. Jaime Andrés Pérez Taborda, from Colombia, was recognized as “Visionary of the Year” for his collaborative project to monitor water quality in remote communities, holding private businesses and governmental institutions responsible for their water waste.
Polluted water causes more than 500,000 deaths by diarrhea a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Concretely, numerous cities in Colombia suffer from water pollution by mercury due to mining, according to The Colombian Environmental Information System. Between 2003 and 2013, 1,020 tons of mercury were bought in the country for internal use.
With the objective of knowing the quality of water in remote zones of Colombia, a PhD in physics and researcher of the University of the Andes, Colombia, Jaime Andrés Pérez, collaborates in a project to assist citizens with monitoring water quality in rural zones all over Colombia. Thanks to this initiative, Pérez has become a winner in the Latin American Innovators Under 35 from the MIT Technology Review LATAM edition.
In order for the monitoring to take place, the project has four types of low cost probes. The first one can only measure the temperature and electric conductivity. The newest model, aside from the previous, is also able to take pH, diluted oxygen, turbidity measurements, apparent color, and metal concentration such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic. To avoid using batteries that could pollute the water and increase cost, the project uses probes that are nurtured by thermoelectric and piezo: nano-generators since the differences in temperature and movement of the rivers generate electricity.