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WAPIs set to go to Haiti
Interact: Students put together approximately 600
About 600 water pasteurization indicators, or WAPIs, assembled by the Granite Hills High School chapter of Rotary Interact will soon be on their way to Haiti.
On Friday, the students spent the morning wielding pliers, propane torches and drills as they put together the inexpensive, yet potentially life-saving, devices.
The effort is part of a long-standing one, led by the Rotary Club of Fresno, to send WAPIs to countries worldwide where clean water is unavailable.
“I think it’s fun, and we’re helping people out,” Granite Hills junior Alexandra Smith, 16, said.
The indicator is made of polycarbonate tubing, which has a small amount of wax inside it. It is placed in water until the wax melts, signifying the water has reached pasteurization temperatures.
Smith used pliers to seal the ends of the two-inch piece of plastic tube once the ends were heated.
Fresno Rotarian Walt Parrish spent the day with the students explaining them how the assembly method works.
When he first began organizing clubs to make WAPIs, he said, the materials cost 20 cents each.
Since then, the total price has risen to 30 cents.
However, the market price of six dollars is frequently too high for families in areas with unsafe water purchase.
“This way, you get a lot of bang for your buck,” Parrish said.
Since he began, he has personally tracked 35,000 WAPIs to places of need, utilizing high school and college groups, among others.
The devices are outfitted with a small baling wire hook, intended to be connected to the edge of a cooking fire or solar oven.
After the wax melts, a washer keeping the tube at an angle forces the powdery-looking substance to slide back downward where it hardens until its next use.
“At 150 degrees,” he said, “all but 0.1 percent of pathogens are dead, and those won’t hurt you.”
Parrish said the wax melts at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
“That way we know those nasty bugs are dead,” he said.
Another Granite Hills junior, Deanna Orozco, 16, carefully ran the ends of the tubing pieces through a propane torch flame to prepare them to be sealed shut.
She looked for the plastic to become more clear and for bubbles to appear in the surface before passing it on to Smith to crimp the sides together.
She said the decision to send the WAPIs to Haiti was made after the nation suffered the recent devastating earthquake.
The club, Orozco said, originally planned to send them to Africa.
“We agreed to change that after we saw what happened there,” she said.
Once the materials are exhausted, approximately 600 WAPIs will be shipped to Haiti, complete with instructions for ensuring water is safe to drink.
-- Contact Sarah de Crescenzo at 784-5000, Ext. 1045, or firstname.lastname@example.org.