Though the Liberian civil war ended in 2003, the country continues to struggle with the basics, such as providing sanitation and clean water.
But thanks in part to a water purifier manufacturer with a recently opened facility outside York, there’s a chance the struggle for clean water can be eased.
International Water Co., 150 Farm Lane, York Township, played host to a delegation from Liberia, led by Monrovia Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo, on Wednesday.
The company was organized in Cheyenne, Wyo., in 2010, but the founders first arrived at their idea for a portable water purification system in a living room in Texas, said Marc Ward, chief operating officer.
“We were all retired and trying to decide what to do next with our lives,” he said. He had spent time in Africa and told his friends of his experiences watching children struggle to get clean water.
“The concept for me is ‘water for children,’” he said.
From that emerged two versions of the Mobile Water Purification System. The smaller version can pump about 2.5 gallons per minute; the larger version pumps about 18 gallons per minute.
They can operate from a generator but are able to function using solar and wind power. The units are self-contained, simple to set up and the parts can be found in most any hardware store around the world, Ward said. And it’s overbuilt, meaning that if something breaks, there’s a backup system to keep the machine running. The only part that would need regular replacing is a microbe-killing UV lightbulb, and extras are included.
The units have been constructed at the York Township facility since last year, but Wednesday marked the grand opening, with letters of congratulation from U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett.
Ward said the company settled on the York area as a base for several reasons. That includes access to highways that lead to New York and Washington, D.C.
“But the core area is warm, educated, and it’s a good labor force,” Ward said. “It’s top notch.”
There are eight employees at the shop now. The plan is to add 20 this year and, if sales projections work out, 10 to 15 more in 2015, Ward said.
International Water wasn’t the only stop for the delegation, said Christine Maycole, president and CEO of InspiraGEN International Inc., a solid waste management and renewable energy company. The firm has offices in Liberia and Philadelphia, and organized the delegation’s visit, which also included a stop at the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and the York County Solid Waste Authority.
“We wanted them to see how things are done here in America and to make those connections,” Maycole said.