Mary’s Mount Primary School students in Gooseberry Hill champion solar-powered drinking water trial


Mary’s Mount Primary School Year 6 students Brooklyn North, Cameron Bidstrup and Christian Giuttari quench their thirst with drinking water drawn from the air using solar power.  Picture: David Baylis d483387
Mary’s Mount Primary School Year 6 students Brooklyn North, Cameron Bidstrup and Christian Giuttari quench their thirst with drinking water drawn from the air using solar power. Picture: David Baylis d483387

CHILDREN in Gooseberry Hill are harnessing drinking water from solar power in a “real life” science experiment.

Mary’s Mount Primary is the first school in Australia to take delivery of four Source Zero Mass hydropanels to make drinking water from sunlight and air.

Assistant Principal Loretta Hackner said a parent director with the distributor Wilco Electrical approached the school.

“Mary’s Mount is a ‘waste wise’ school and an accredited ‘sustainable school’, so it made sense to capitalise on the opportunity to source drinking water without negative impact on energy usage and environmental harm,” she said.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $420,000 to US-based Zero Mass Water to distribute 150 Source drinking water systems across 150 sites in Australia.

Each of the panels on the chapel roof produce about 5 litres of water daily through a chilled water dispenser in the lunch area.

Year 6 student Cameron Bidstrup said the water was smooth and fresh.

Ms Hackner said the clean renewable water tasted similar to mountain water and was of an exceptional quality.

“There is a bubbler and a water bottle filling tap for students to use at their free will,” she said.

Each hydropanel produces enough water to displace more than 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years.

The students will access a Source app under development to monitor water production on their iPads for science and mathematics classes.

Upkeep of the solar units is minimal, with a yearly service to replace a $50 cartridge.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the project demonstrated technology not seen in Australia.

“This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities, while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill,” he said.

Other trial locations in WA include Western Australia Police Headquarters in East Perth and John Tonkin College in Mandurah.

For more, visit www.arena.gov.au and zeromasswater.com.