A Water Carrier For The Developing World That Cleans As It Rolls

With a few simple modifications, the same five-gallon barrels used for storage can be repurposed to solve a major barrier to clean water access for millions of people.

Millions of people lack access to tap water, and every day, need to lug water to their homes from streams, lakes, and collective faucets. We’ve written about several helpful tools to help them carry water, including these wheels and balls. But SafeSIPP–a new device from three Arizona State graduates–has the potential to do more. In addition to transporting water, it also cleans the water at the same time.


Their idea is to repurpose standard five-gallon barrels–the type soda companies, say, cart around syrup with–and simply add on a handle. They then put a purification system inside, which separates out dirt, bacteria, and parasites. The project, however, isn’t fully formed yet. The device functions and has been tested, but it hasn’t been piloted in a real-world setting.

“People go the water source. They’ll fill up the container, then as the barrel rolls to the village, it undergoes a purification process. Once they get to their home, people will be able to have clean drinking water,” says inventor Jared Schoepf.

“We noticed that there were several products that allowed people to transport water, then there were lots of products that purify water. But there was really no one who was doing both,” he adds.

SafeSIPP was recently accepted to a “conscious capitalism” incubator called Mac 6, giving the trio access to funding and office space. Schoepf and his two partners are now planning a trial this fall and hope to produce a product early next year, though they still need to find a supply of barrels they can repurpose.

The advantage of re-using barrels is keeping costs down. Schoepf hopes to sell the product for less than popular water carriers, like Hippo Water Roller, which has been criticized for being expensive. SafeSIPP will market to nonprofits who would actually distribute the device.

Schoepf, a chemical engineer by training, won’t describe exactly how the purification system works, pending a full patent application. But if a single device could solve water carrying and purification issues at the same time, that would be a useful step forward in providing convenient water access to all.


About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.