While the global water crisis affects cities, countries and regions around the world, it is often those in developing countries that feel the impact most.  These water challenges largely stem from inadequate or unusable water supply and are exacerbated by lack of sanitation, pollution controls, drought, floods and rapid population growth. The need to conserve, harvest and reuse water has never been greater.

How are these challenges being solved?  By combining creativity, collaboration and innovation at the ITT Innovation Lab in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The lab brings together a dedicated group of product design and development professionals with creative and commercial people, who are looking ahead and moving fast.  A morning brainstorming meeting can easily morph into a working prototype by that afternoon.

As an industry ‘think-tank’, the ITT Innovation Lab was partly designed to apply water technology expertise to develop breakthrough low-cost water solutions for people in developing countries. The lab is churning out ideas, prototypes and products for pumps, including some that could increase water access for rural farmers and families in emerging markets.  To date, these include rainwater reuse products such as a rain barrel pump; low-cost pumping solutions, powered by batteries that can be charged with solar energy; and manual pumps that can be operated using stationary bikes.

The Innovation Lab Team collaborates with partners to test the pump prototypes in the field and ensure they are meeting local needs. For example, it’s currently working with ITT Watermark and International Development Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that works to find technologies that help rural farmers in developing countries lift water out of the ground, apply it to the crops and transfer it where it’s needed. Launched in 2008, ITT Watermark is dedicated to delivering safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to schoolchildren in India, China and Latin America, and to addressing sudden, urgent water needs caused by disasters.