SOURCE Global, PBC and Microsoft announced an initiative to provide 100 Navajo Nation families with SOURCE Hydropanel drinking water systems. Funded as part of Microsoft’s water access work, installations are expected to be completed this spring.

An estimated 30 percent of Navajo Nation residents — about 70,000 people — don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. Some residents drive long distances to buy cases of bottled water. When fuel costs and time are factored into the equation, what seems like an affordable option can cost as much as $2,000 per year. A decades-long megadrought, has only heightened the need for long-term drinking water solutions.

SOURCE’s patented Hydropanel technology was designed specifically for remote, often harsh environments. Because they function completely off-grid and don’t require existing infrastructure, Hydropanels are an alternative to the status quo when it comes to drinking water access for people in isolated communities.

Hydropanels use solar energy to power fans that draw in air and push it through water-absorbing material. This process passively turns water vapor into drinking water that’s mineralized for health and taste and kept clean in a storage tank until it’s needed.

For Microsoft, the 100-home project is part of their work to become water positive by 2030. Microsoft is focused on five key pillars in order to achieve that goal: reducing water use intensity, replenishing more water than it consumes, increasing access to water and sanitation services for people across the globe, driving innovation to scale water solutions, and advocating for effective water policy. This project is part of the company’s water access work. Synergy between corporate sustainability goals and community initiatives offer the greatest opportunity for impact.

This water access project follows an investment in SOURCE by Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund in 2022. The Climate Innovation Fund is Microsoft’s $1 billion investment initiative to accelerate technology development and deployment of new climate and water solutions like SOURCE’s Hydropanel technology. Experts believe that global freshwater demand will exceed supply by 40 percent as soon as 2030. Consequently, moving forward with purposeful urgency is critical.

SOURCE Founder and CEO Dr. Cody Friesen shares the same sense of urgency. He believes that participation from corporations like Microsoft are essential if positive outcomes hope to be achieved for the roughly 2.4 billion people the United Nations estimates lack access to safe drinking water.

“Clean, safe drinking water is a fundamental human right,” Friesen said. “What I appreciate about Microsoft is that they recognize the gravity and scale of the problem and they’re addressing it in a way that’s tangible and truly makes a difference.”

The sobering reality of our changing climate illustrates why the United Nations adopted a wide-ranging platform of sustainable development goals (SDGs) as catalysts for action. SDG 6.1, which aims to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, resonates with SOURCE and Microsoft. Access to clean drinking water is not just an issue reserved for developing nations, more than 2M Americans lack access to clean water in their home.

“Microsoft’s Climate innovation Fund was launched in 2020 to address climate-related challenges like water access,” said Eliza Roberts, Water Lead at Microsoft. “This project with SOURCE is a great example of how our investments can have real impact today, helping to deliver on our water positive goal and address water scarcity in a meaningful way.“