SQWater: Atmospheric Water Resources in the Slums of Lima, Peru

EPA Grant Number: SU835312
Title: SQWater: Atmospheric Water Resources in the Slums of Lima, Peru
Investigators: Spencer, Benjamin R. , Bolton, Susan
Current Investigators: Spencer, Benjamin R. , Wang, Hsien Ai , Giampietro, Vera Eve , Hsu, Shu- Kuei , Yiu, Kei Sing , Rockquemore, Angelica , Anderson, Betsy , Alford, Brooke , James, Cayce , Dolbeare, Corey , Ramirez, Daniel , Hoffman, Daniel , Bush, Erica , Nakajo, Gayna , Daniel, Ginger , Pritchitt, Hillary , Pagan, Jonathan , Lewis, Jordan , Kuldkepp, Kaie , Bogle, Kevin , Andrews, Leann , Takieddine, Malda , Shwindeller, Michael , Hai, Orona , Cromwell, Peter , Syvertsen, Philip , Feld, Shara , Wissmer., Sunni , Bolton, Susan , Hanson, Taj , Kuo, Winnie , Lin, Yu-Ting
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $14,423
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


828 million people, live in urban slums. By the year 2050, this number will approach 3 billion. In Lima, Peru more than a third of the city’s 9 million occupants live in slums, many without reliable access to clean water. Within as little as a decade, the city’s primary water supply, Andean glaciers below 5500 meters, will melt as a result of climate change and the city’s already inadequate water networks will become increasingly dysfunctional. Our project focuses on the design and evaluation of fog harvesting technologies that provide clean water at point of use (POU), help Lima’s slum communities adapt to increasing water scarcity and reduce air pollution and improve food security through the irrigation of public green spaces and gardens.


The project will be based in Lomas de Zapallal (LdZ), a slum in Northern Lima, leverage existing service UW courses and build upon a long standing relationship between the UW, the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) and the community. Following an initial period of research and design in LdZ, UW and UNMSM students will design, build and test fog harvesting prototypes optimized for Lima’s climate. They will explore fog collector materials and forms and pioneer acoustic fog precipitation as a means of increasing fog collection yields. They will then integrate their fog harvesting system into the design of public green spaces and vegetable gardens that provide LdZ residents with a place to relax and play, augment habitat for local species, help clean Lima’s pollution laden air, serve as source of nutrition and generate income. Following the completion of prototypes and design development, students will conduct quantitative evaluations of their system’s water collection capacity and costs. They will also compile a manual and companion website that will serve as a blueprint for the implementation of an on-site fog harvesting system and public green spaces during Phase 2 of the project (if funded).

Expected Results:

The project will have direct social, environmental and economic benefits at the local level and serve as an example for other slum communities in Lima and worldwide. Phase 1 results will include a) the advancement of knowledge of optimal fog collection strategies, b) introduction of students to socially and environmentally intelligent design and technological development in informal urban settlements and c) dissemination of knowledge of fog collection as an alternative water source for multiple uses and the benefits of public green spaces and gardens.

Supplemental Keywords:

Informal urban settlement, urbanization, shanty town, poverty alleviation, environmental justice, community development, climate change adaptation, social-environmental co-benefits, fog harvesting, water security, food security, distributed infrastructure, ecological infrastructure, urban forests, service learning, acoustic stimulation of fog coagulation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report