Student Problem Solvers
Fortunately, the situation is not all bleak. Mexicans are addressing their problems, especially the new generation. Some high schools students have come up with such a sparkling solution that the Stockholm International Water Institute awarded them the "Nobel Prize for Water" for the best project for managing water sustainably, a prize equivalent in importance to human health and the environment to the actual Nobel Prizes (which, BTW, does not include a laurel for economics; that prize actually is a creation of the central banks).
Clarissa Camargo Tapia, Julisa Guadalupe Lugo Pacheco, and Doryan Brenda Laura, ranging in age from sixteen to seventeen, discovered that the thick, sticky liquid extracted from the nopal cactus can purify water.
The three students poured a mix of dirty water onto the gooey extract. The adhesive viscous liquid soaked up the arsenic, fluorocarbons, lead, and fecal matter like a sponge. It actually made contaminated water drinkable.
The three teens go to high school in the Valley of Mezquital in Hidalgo where residents have a long tradition of purifying water with this gum from the nopal cactus, which grows plentifully there.
The sticky stuff found in abundance in the cactus is also found in high concentrations in seaweed, seeds, and other vegetables besides nopal.
The three students extracted the gluey liquid from the nopal, then eliminated the fiber with acetones, and next dehydrated the gum, reducing it to a powder with the property of purification.
Their organic invention was so effective at purifying water that it could remove sulfate of aluminum, the first time this had been accomplished without harmful side effects.
After this youthful team first won the Premio Juvenil del Agua, they traveled to Sweden last September to participate in the international competition during the City of Stockholm's Water Week.
An advisor to the Mexican government stated that they plan to research and develop the girls' winning project intensely for the next two years.