FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS :


GENERAL QUESTIONS REGARDING HARVESTING WATER FROM FOG:

WHAT IS FOG HARVESTING?

Fog harvesting, fog catching, and fog milking are all names for a long-established and proven scientific technique called fog collection. This technique uses specialized mesh, hung between two poles, to trap the water droplets in fog. Wind pushes fog through the mesh, where droplets are trapped, condense, fall, and amass in a container placed at the base of the unit. Drop by drop, they constitute a substantial amount of water. This technique can be used in regions where fog abounds and where there are few to no viable means for conventional water access methods.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THIS TECHNIQUE?

In her book, La capitatión del agua de la niebla en la isla de Tenerife (Caja Canarias: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2003), Vicky Marzol shows that fog-harvesting is an ancient technique used by the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands. These inhabitants collected fog-water under large trees with foliage large enough to allow fog-droplets to condense and fall into holes that had already been dug.

CAN THIS TECHNIQUE BE USED WHEREVER THERE IS FOG?

Fog is composed of extremely small water-droplets (ranging between 1 mm to 40 mm) and is very similar to clouds, except its base is on the ground. Fog is present in many parts of the tropical, temperate, and arid sections of the world. There are, however, different types of fog. Fog in valleys or coastal regions carries a substantial amount of water-droplets and is less productive than fog found in the mountains. Fog in coastal regions is not optimal for the current technique of harvesting and will yield very little, as coastal fog droplets are too small and pass through the nets instead of being caught.

IS FOG COLLECTION THE SAME AS DEW COLLECTION?

Dew and fog collection are two different techniques, because dew and fog are different natural phenomena. Fog is made of water-droplets suspended in the air, while dew is the liquid film that forms on the surface of soil or other objects due to water condensation in the air. To collect dew, plates covered with different types of material are used. The amount of water that can be collected from dew is significantly lower than what can be collected from fog, but it can still be used for irrigation purposes or for the alleviation of water scarcity where there is a need and no other alternative available, as in the case of India.

WHY ARE WIND AND ORIENTATION OF THE NETS IMPORTANT FOR FOG COLLECTION?

Because water-droplets within fog are extremely small, they tend to move horizontally as the wind pushes them. The droplets have a very low fall velocity, and the wind moves them through the vertical nets where they are trapped. High wind means an increase in water production, as it pushes more fog through the nets, but wind can also be destructive if it is too strong and destabilizes the collection units. The ideal wind speed is 10ms-1. The nets must be oriented towards the dominant wind direction, determined after thorough observation of wind patterns.

WHAT STEPS ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE A FOG WATER HARVESTING PROJECT?

Various issues and points need to be evaluated before engaging in a large-scale fog-water harvesting project:

a. Weather classification and topography of the region,
b. Real and expressed need for water,
c. Community acceptance, readiness, and involvement in the premise of the project,
d. Proven success in an experimental period of at least one year (a satisfactory average of collected water),
e. Maintenance for project sustainability.

WHAT IS THE LOWEST VALUE OF COLLECTED FOG WATER NEEDED TO MAKE A PROJECT VIABLE?

The lowest value, refers to the amount of water gathered in any one experimental period before a large-scale project is considered. The Canadian NGO FogQuest who patented and put this system in place (www.fogquest.org) considers this experimental period to be the essential step to validate or invalidate the subsequent building of a project. FogQuest describes the annual average water-collection rate of 5 L/m2 as a potential benchmark, which is based on a number of global experiments, . To measure this, Standard Fog Collectors (SFC), which are 1 m2 of mesh, are installed and  must be monitored daily for at least a full year.

QUESTIONS REGARDING LOCAL CLIMATE AND WATER CONDITIONS:

HOW MUCH RAIN FALLS IN THE AREA?

The Anti-Atlas region where Dar Si Hmad’s project is located, between Guelmim and Sidi Ifni, has a very low yearly average of precipitation: less than 132 mm yearly with a very small number of precipitation days. This is considered a Tropical Subtropical Desert Climate (Bwh) according to Köppen weather classification. These elements make fog a common phenomenon in the region. A drought cycle has been recurring since the 1960s, and ongoing climate changes have caused the situation to further deteriorate.

WHAT ARE THE TEMPERATURES IN THE AREA?

During the dry-season, there is a particularly dire need for water. The yearly average heat reaches a temperature of 19.4o C. In the month of August, the average is 24.6o C. These temperatures reflect areas close to the ocean, while farther inland, during July and August, the temperature can rise above 40° with a hot, dry, Chergui wind.

HOW LONG HAS THIS AREA BEEN IN A DROUGHT?

Historically, drought is endemic to this region, but the drought has been more severe within the last three decades. In 1986, there was a landmark drought from which the area never fully recovered, and since then the level of rainfall has decreased and desertification has increased.

WHY IS THERE NOT ENOUGH WATER IN THE AREA FROM THE WINTER 2014 FLOODS?

Changing weather patterns indicate that the rainfall that occurred in 2014 will not occur every year. While 2014 saw a particularly high precipitation rate (in Guelmim, 126 mm of rain over 4 days was recorded in December 2014, causing major floods and loss of life), this doesn’t mean that the same water quantities will be available every year. Moreover, the water quality available to people in the villages via open wells is often compromised and may be a vector for waterborne diseases. Finally, if the water tables are high and the cisterns are full, women and children still have to go fetch water. With the advent of running water from our system, potable, safe, fog-harvested water will be delivered to the inside of households, relieving the population from the task of fetching water and creating potential for further development in the region.

QUESTIONS REGARDING DAR SI HMAD’S FOG-WATER HARVESTING PROJECT:

HOW AND WHY DID DAR SI HMAD START THIS MOROCCO EXPERIMENT?

The president of Dar Si Hmad, Dr. Aissa Derhem, came across this technology through the NGO FogQuest when he was living in Canada in 1989. Around this time, the first fog project in Camanchaca (Chilé) had just been completed. A native of Aït Baamrane, and thus familiar with the region’s constant fog, Dr. Derhem saw an opportunity in fog-harvesting. He also had intimate knowledge of the community’s suffering caused by water-scarcity and the extent to which this lack of water limited the development of his native region.

WHEN DID DAR SI HMAD START WORKING ON FOG COLLECTION?

Shortly after Dr. Derhem returned to Morocco in 2000, he, with advisory support from FogQuest and technical and financial support from Dr. Vicky Marzol, University of la Laguna, set up the first Standard Fog Collector (SFC) on top of Mt. Boutmezguida. This experiment began in June 2006 and data was collected daily by the TV operators stationed on Boutmezguida’s summit. In 2009, Dr. Marzol added a Davis Meteorological Station that gave detailed and constant information about the weather patterns, further validating the scale of the project. The world mean average of fog is between 4 and 10.5 l/m2/day, and the yield in our site can reach 10.5 l/m2/day. In general, the amount of fog collected in one day can vary wildly. For instance, in Oman, the yield reaches 30 l/day, but only during the monsoon season which lasts for two months. In Boutmezguida, July and August are dry months, but some days in June we get up to 50 l/day.

WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR?

Dar Si Hmad has built the entire infrastructure of the project:

  • Fog-Collection Units: 20 completed double units for fog collection, each unit with a net-surface of 30m2, thus a total of 600 m2.  Each of these units is fully equipped with gutters, filters, spigots, and piping connecting them to the first reservoir.
  • Reservoirs: 7 reservoirs, including a 12 m3 double-compartment reservoir in Boutmezguida, our fog water collection site, 2 major reservoirs totaling a 467 m3 storage capacity, and 4 relay-break reservoirs with a total 60 m3 capacity
  • Technical Sheds: 5 total, the most important being the Fog Observatory on top of Boutmezguida, the first of its kind in the world, in addition to 3 more, all connected to the relay-break reservoirs (please see attached illustration)

Dar Si Hmad built extensive piping through difficult, mountainous terrain to create this pre-paid system. The fog water passes through UV Filtering, sand, and cartridge filters. All this equipment is powered by 6 solar panels and operated out of our Fog Observatory Center, which is a fully integrated rock-built ecological center operating with fog-water, 2 solar panels for electricity, and an Eco-San dry, recycling toilet.

WHERE IS THE PROJECT LOCATED?

29° 12′ 30″ N; 10° 01′ 30″ W, on the summit of Mt. Boutmezguida at 1,225 m.a.s.l., and 30 km inland southeast of Sidi Ifni. The landscape is semi-arid to arid, and plants typical of the region (thyme, lavender, spineless cacti) as well as Argan trees grow in this weather.

WHY IS THERE SO MUCH FOG IN THIS AREA?

The anticyclone of the Assores and the cold current from the Canary Islands create evaporation and pressure, resulting in the production of what is called stratocumulus clouds. These clouds are based on the ground and are typically full of water. The wind pushes the clouds towards the mountains, which are colder than the sea-front and constitute a natural barrier. This is where Dar Si Hmad has installed its fog-catching units.

HOW IS THE SYSTEM BUILT?

filet-systeme

HOW FAR DOES THE WATER TRAVEL TO GET TO THE HOUSEHOLDS?

The water descends by gravity from Boutmezguida to two reservoirs located at 662 m.a.s.l. In the first leg, water travels through 41” pipes covering 3500 linear meters through steep mountain-slopes and is eventually buried in trenches of .20 cm2.

Once the water reaches the two large reservoirs, totaling 464 m3, it continues its descent for 3700 linear meters via piping (measuring 63”, 50”, and 41” respectively) which helps maximize its velocity, and finally arrives at the last village to be serviced with water, Agni Hya.

The water travels a total of 7200 linear meters in the main pipes. There are also secondary pipes reaching the villages and tertiary pipes connecting the households.

We have built manholes that are fully equipped with water-pressure regulators to facilitate and measure the water intake of each household and village.

There are 6 manholes in the first section measuring 3500 linear meters. These serve two main functions. First, they help to locate any leaks that might occur, and second, they serve as water-pressure regulators. All these manholes are built with concrete casting.

The second section of 3700 linear meters has 4 similar manholes using the same equipment.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF FOG THAT PASSES THROUGH THE NETS IS SUCCESSFULLY COLLECTED?

In their article “Costal Location” in Ambio, vol.20 n° 7, Nov.1991, Schemenauer and Cecereda showed that a 12 m2 net has higher efficiency at its center, increasing with the velocity of the wind. If the wind is greater than 3.5 m/s, then water-collection is stabilized at 65%. For the entire surface of the net, however, the yield is generally 20%.

IS THE FOG-WATER POTABLE? DOES THE WATER MEET NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL (WHO) REQUIREMENTS?

Fog-water is pure water, free from contaminants and pollutants.

IS THE FOG WATER TREATED?

No, due to its purity fog-water requires no further treatment.

WHAT DOES FOG WATER TASTE LIKE?

Extremely light and sweet.

QUESTIONS REGARDING COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND BENEFICIARIES:

WHO ARE THE BENEFICIARIES?

For our pilot project, we serviced 5 villages located in the provinces of Tnine Amellou, Qaidat Mesti, and Sidi Ifni. The year-round resident population is about 400 individuals, including about 40 large households. In the summer when villages are fully occupied, we service a total of 80 large households, in addition to the livestock in the region.

HOW DID COMMUNITY MEMBERS GET WATER BEFORE?

Most households, as our original micro-surveys show, have internal cisterns. Households gather rainwater and buy water in situations of great need. This water is delivered to their cisterns via water-trucks. There are also open wells where water is collected daily and where livestock is brought to drink. During the dry season, the months of June through August, the water tables are low, so women have to get to the wells before sunrise. Often they start walking at 4 am, covering distances of up to 5 km. They then have to take turns filling their containers and wait between these turns until the water table rises.

HOW ARE COMMUNITY MEMBERS INVOLVED IN THE FOG-WATER HARVESTING PROJECT?

Since we launched the project, community members have been present and active contributors to the project. Young men are now specialists in fog collection building and there are water committees in each village. Most importantly, we have worked with women to ensure that they maintain their privileged ancestral role as water guardians.

HOW MUCH WATER DO COMMUNITY MEMBERS CURRENTLY USE? HOW MUCH WATER DOES THE FOG COLLECTION SYSTEM PROVIDE?

These communities, like all 380 villages in the region, live in situations of constant water-stress. They use an average of 8 l/d/person, which barely covers their drinking and sanitation needs. With fog water flowing into their homes, the calculations for consumption are projected at 30/l/d/person, a decent projection when compared to the urban water consumption in Morocco (85 l/d/person). The fog-system will provide an average daily of 12 m3, with 53% fog-water and 47% underground water to all participating villages. In our research and development in collaboration with the German NGO Wasserstiftung, we have begun building more efficient nets and will increase the fog-water percentage.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE WATER IN THE HOUSEHOLDS?

Studies have shown that the impact of water delivered to rural households include feelings of empowerment for women and girls, less degradation of the natural environment, and fewer waterborne diseases, especially among children.

WHY CAN’T COMMUNITY MEMBERS RELY ON WELL WATER, LIKE THEY HAVE DONE FOR CENTURIES?

Groundwater levels are depleted by overuse and poor management, and there is less water due to drought and climate change. Water quality is also compromised because most wells are open wells, not closed, protected sources.

HOW DO COMMUNITY MEMBERS USE THE WATER?

Thanks to our Water Sanitation Health (WASH), Mobile Education and plumbing workshops, and continued proximity to the population, we have offered training in water management, water saving, and optimal use. The communities use water in ways similar to that of other communities with running water, but with the added value that they know it comes from a special and uncommon source, fog.

QUESTIONS REGARDING RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT:

IS DAR SI HMAD INVOLVED IN ANY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D)?

Our primary research partner has been Dr. Vicky Marzol at the University of la Laguna. Dr. Marzol is doing an ongoing study comparing the weather patterns in Morocco and in her native Canary Islands.

Dar Si Hmad has also carried out extensive work with the ATLAS Institute (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society) at the University of Colorado, in partnership with doctoral candidate Leslie Dodson who designed a communication system ensuring that women retain their traditional control over water resources by educating them in Information and Communication Technologies and Development.

We are also cooperating with the German NGO Water Foundation (Wasserstiftung) and the Technical University of Munich. The research aims to optimize fog collection and further develop strong, self-sufficient nets that can withstand extremely hard conditions. These improved nets are called CloudFishers, distinct from LFG, Large Fog Collectors. With funding from BMZ and Wasserstiftung, Dar Si Hmad is in the process of building new nets, CloudFishers, at Boutmezguida. CloudFishers have revolutionized fog-collection technology, and Morocco will be the first place to demonstrate this innovation.

We continue, however, to look for partners to develop a system for condensing fog water using renewable energy and to adapt the existing technique of dehumidification, which collects water from air humidity, to work with fog.

WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH IS BEING CONDUCTED RELATED TO THIS PROJECT?

Dar Si Hmad is engaging in ongoing research about optimizing water-yield processes. We are also engaging in sociological research to evaluate and track how water delivery inside the households is changing life for the rural communities of the Anti-Atlas.

WHAT IS A DAVIS WEATHER STATION AND HOW IS IT USED IN THIS PROJECT?

The weather station is important because it allows us to draw correlations between the amount of fog-water gathered and the weather conditions. In the long term, the station allows us to track and understand larger weather movements. This information is vital for the project and for expanding it to the entire region.

QUESTIONS REGARDING PARTNERS:

WHO ARE YOUR PARTNERS AND FUNDERS?

Our Partners

  • Local Communities
  • Rural counties of Tnine Amellou, Tangarfa, and Mesti
  • Province of Sidi Ifni
  • FogQuest, Canada
  • Tifawin Institute, Colorado, USA
  • University of la Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain
  • Atlas Institute, U of Colorado, USA
  • Wasserstiftung, Munich, Germany
  • Technical University of Munich, Germany
  • Qadi Iyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
  • Vera Campbell Foundation, California, USA
  • Agence du Bassin Hydraulique de Souss-Massa-Drâa, Morocco

 

Financial Partners (listed in chronological order of support of the project)

  • Derhem Holding, Morocco
  • Fondation Si Hmad Derhem, Morocco
  • Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture (project leader, funds garnered from fund-generating activities)
  • Munich Re Foundation, Munich, Germany
  • Finnish Embassy, Morocco
  • Global Green Grants, Colorado, USA
  • Waterlines, New Mexico, USA
  • Promotion Nationale, Morocco
  • USAID

WHAT KIND OF HELP HAVE PARTNERS AND FUNDERS PROVIDED?

Our partners have provided both technical and financial help.

QUESTIONS REGARDING SUSTAINABILITY AND EXPANSION:

HOW IS THIS PROJECT GOING TO BE SUSTAINABLE?

The community members pay a small fee, the sum of which covers the maintenance expenses for the nets. The communities have participated and welcomed what originally seemed to them an unconventional idea. Currently, they are in the process of setting up a structure to learn further how to manage the water-distribution aspect of the project in the future.

DOES DAR SI HMAD PLAN ON EXPANDING THE PROJECT TO OTHER REGIONS?

Yes, all around the area of the mountain, giving our expertise wherever it is needed.