New Zealand authorities have put two drinking-water filtration systems, made by a Port Washington company, into use for humanitarian relief of a drought-stricken Pacific coral atoll nation, Tuvalu.
Tuvalu is about midway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The water treatment equipment, made by Pall Corp., is set up at a wharf in the capital, Funafuti.
Pall Corp. said the mobile water treatment systems are owned and operated by the New Zealand Defence Force. They work by reverse osmosis and microfiltration, desalting 40,000 liters of fresh water daily for Tuvalu's 10,000 residents, Pall said. The system also removes bacteria, cysts and particles from untreated water.
Company spokeswoman Marie MacLean said Pall sold the desalting equipment to the New Zealand Defence Force. She declined to disclose the selling price.
Earlier this month, Tuvalu officials declared a state of emergency because of prolonged drought worsened by rising sea levels, which have contaminated fresh water tables.
The new prime minister of Tuvalu said in an interview, posted on the national government's website, that rising sea levels have infiltrated much of the island's fresh groundwater. Other factors are coastal erosion, coral bleaching and unfavorable movements of the wind phenomenon known as La Nina that have withheld rainfall in recent months.
International leaders have been working with the Tuvalu people to find them a new home territory, on another Pacific island where global climate change has not endangered drinking-water supplies.
People line up at a freshwater station on the endangered Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. (Oct. 13, 2011)