Portaqua – What the World Needs Now

"If we were to take all of the world’s water and reduce it to one gallon, the volume that would be potable is one tablespoon."

We learned this from Rafael Gonzalez, CEO of Portaqua, Member Company of high-tech incubator VT KnowledgeWorks, who heard it at WATEC Israel 2007.

I thought of Gonzalez when I read the 3/10/08 Associated Press article, AP probe finds drugs in drinking water.  Although a later article in the Roanoke Times reported in the Roanoke Valley Water authority says supply is well-protected, I thought of Dionne Warwick singing, "What the world needs now.."

Looks like what the whole world needs now is Portaqua‘s portable water treatment systems.

I e-mailed Gonzalez my concerns.  He answered:

The recent article regarding medicines contaminating our water systems is starting to make the public aware of how contamination of our drinking water is increasing.  In addition to pharma contamination, another major problem is cosmetic and personal products. Water is starting to show rising levels of cosmetic products such as shower gel, hair products, and perfumes.  From the many plastic products we are using, contamination by perchlorate of our drinking water is increasing. Perchlorate is of concern because it poses a particular risk to infants.  As Dr. John Cairns and I discussed, this will be a major issue for drinking water.

Portaqua is often asked, since we deal with water, "What is the solution?"  First, increased monitoring by our local water plants will be needed if we are going to better understand the problems and begin formulating solutions. We must also begin reviewing our use of medicine and other products.  We may not think about what happens to a medicine or product after we used them.  We need to realize that we are drinking the water that has been purified after someone else’s use. As a presenter during a recent conference indicated, a glass of water someone is drinking in New Orleans has gone through the body of 20 prior people.

At Portaqua, we are constantly thinking of contamination issues that impact potable water. Our systems are designed to handle a broad range of contaminants, including pharma contamination, since we are often utilizing our products in regions where 90% of the wastewater is not treated.


Portaqua has been featured several times in Inside VT KnowledgeWorks, the weblog for VT KnowledgeWorks.  Here is a compilation of posts about Portaqua.


  1. I went to a lecture by Dr. Tamin Younos (March21) in a Virginia Tech Geography Department seminar. The title was "A Paradigm Shift: Vision for a Pipe-less Society." In addition to discussing the looming problems of water and groundwater quantity and quality, he discussed the needs for small distributed system for collecting, storing, processing, and using water. He also stressed new systems needed to reduce the high energy costs of such systems. He mentioned the likely utility of Portaqua http://www.portaqua.us/ systems in small communities throughout the Appalachian coalfields.

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