World Water Week 2016: Safe Water and Sustainable Growth

This week is World Water Week 2016, an event held annually in beautiful Stockholm, Sweden.

World Water Week functions as an open and dynamic platform that aims to help link practice, science, policy and decision making, and enables participants to exchange views and experiences, form partnerships and shape joint solutions to global water challenges. This year’s program will consist of more than 140 events of different formats and cover a range of subjects that will be tied back to the theme “Water and Sustainable Growth.”- The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

You might remember World Water Day 2016’s theme was “Water and Jobs.” The message this week will echo that theme, but within the broader context of Sustainable Development Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

This post is our contribution to the World Water Week 2016 conversation. Below we outline how our approach to water development projects is sustainable and scalable and how we partner with implementation partners around the world who utilize our open-source technical resources to run their own clean water projects. After reading this, we encourage you to look further into our organization and email us if you’re interested in forming a partnership.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackling WASH issues, but in order for development projects to be successful and sustainable, communities should not be bystanders in projects that are designed to help them. This thinking is underscored within SDG 6 section 6.6b.

To enable this, instead of going into a foreign country and running our own projects, we establish partnerships with local organizations who utilize our technical resources, training, and if necessary, financing to directly implement BioSand Filter projects using 100% locally-sourced materials, tools, and labor. Our partners’ established networks within a community and vital knowledge of regional water quality issues and societal norms help ensure that the projects we facilitate are designed and executed for long-term success.

The core belief behind our Low-Tech, High-Thinking movement is that it takes just as much creativity and ingenuity to create affordable, simple solutions that can have a meaningful impact on a global scale. Understanding the systemic underlying causes along with listening to and learning from the end- users, are vital parts of this design process. We’ve used this approach to engineer our Wood Mold for the production of concrete BioSand Filters (BSFs). 

Our award-winning Wood Mold.

Our award-winning Wood Mold.

BioSand Filters are a low-tech, household appliance that use sand, gravel, and natural biological processes to filter pathogens out of water, making it safe for drinking. We’ve made our step-by-step construction manual open-source and free to download on our website, so that local organizations can manufacture BSFs for a fraction of the upfront costs of the traditional steel mold. Our Mold makes more than 50 concrete filters without an issue due to the use of our patented collapsible inner core and 2” x 2” supports that hold the outer walls of the Mold together with bolts rather than screws, which strip the wood. This innovation allows more people to get safe drinking water at an exponentially faster rate.

NOTE: This ratio includes the cost of labor to produce each mold. The numbers used are an average because the local cost of materials and labor vary based on location. An OHorizons' Wood Mold costs between $70-100. A steel mold costs between $500-2000.  

NOTE: This ratio includes the cost of labor to produce each mold. The numbers used are an average because the local cost of materials and labor vary based on location. An OHorizons' Wood Mold costs between $70-100. A steel mold costs between $500-2000.  

If you are intrigued and potentially interested in using the OHorizons Wood Mold to run a Concrete BioSand Filter project in your community, here are the next steps we recommend:

  1. Visit our Resources Page and download our Introduction to BioSand Filters Document. This 12 page outline of BioSand Filters will help you understand if this technology is appropriate for your water needs.

  2. If BioSand Filters seem like they’d be a practical solution for your community’s needs, next download our 1. Wood Mold Construction Manual and 2. Appendix to Construction Manual. (both on our Resources Page) These documents cover everything you’ll need to know about what it will take to run your project.

  3. If you’ve reviewed our technical resources and are interested in running a pilot project, please reach out to us at

Feel free to share this post on social media and/or with any organizations you think would be interested. And be sure to click the button below to sign up for our emails so that you can stay up-to-date on our clean drinking water initiatives.