Fairfield employee helps student with clean water project

Sam Schmitt’s senior project led him to a remote village near the Andes Mountain, where villagers were drinking sewage infested water.

“I spent the summer thinking about what I wanted to do as a project,” Schmitt said. “I wanted to do something to help people.”

Food, power and water were three issues that he and two other students — Jo Matota and Austin McFall — tossed around as ways to come up with a project that could end up helping people on a larger scale.

“Water is a mind-boggling issue globally,” Schmitt said. “Like 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries are from waterborne diseases.”

Matota, McFall and Schmitt eventually decided to build a water filtration system that would provide clean drinking water.

City of Fairfield Public Utilities Superintendent, Andreas Eddy, was approached by Schmitt, who wanted to make sure his system would travel well to Ecuador.

“We discussed several different treatment techniques. I shared some of my experiences, including going to Sierra Leone, Africa, and working with local villagers on their water wells and sanitation facilities,” Eddy said.

Eddy answered Schmitt’s questions and helped him work through his ideas.

“We also discussed analyzing the water before and after treatment to verify that his system was effective,” Eddy said.

The finished project was called the “Rescu-Flo,” and it can filter 150 gallons an hour or 3600 gallons a day. Schmitt said it is a low-cost system (at $1,500 it is much cheaper than the competition with comparable flow rates) designed to take dirty, contaminated water, even contaminated with sewage, and convert it to drinkable water for a relatively large group of individuals, serving up to 7,000 people a day if needed.

“The water may not be as clean as bottled or distilled water, but it is well within the range of drinkable water,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt took the Rescu-Flo to Misahuali, Ecuador, and installed it himself.

“There were some high-dollar parts on it, but I just installed it without any fanfare. They were getting water from two miles away and it was contaminated with raw sewage,” he said.

Eddy commended Schmitt on his project.

“I am proud to know this bright young man and how he is concentrating efforts to help others. You may sometimes hear people question why you would help people in other countries when there are people that need help here. The important thing is to help people. You may help a child a world away that may be inspired to change their world – or even our world,” Eddy said.

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