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Filter Your Water Like A Forest

Posted on May 29, 2018 in Conservation News, Conservation Voices, WA Wild Blog

By Travis Merrigan, Co-Founder of GRAYL

Water has always been an inspiration to me.  Water has shaped our landscapes and civilizations. Rivers carve our mountains and feed our agriculture.  Consider this: there’s never been lasting human settlement in all of human history that wasn’t located beside a river.

Clean water is a basic human need and should never be taken for granted.  I’ve been to many places where improper sanitation and water treatment means people and communities have no access to safe, clean drinking water. Waterborne diseases cause children all over the world to die young, face stunted growth, or endure other lifelong maladies. Furthermore, global travelers are sickened in droves due to unsafe water.

Photo Courtesy of GRAYL

In 2012, Nancie Weston and I started Grayl to enable adventurous, self-reliant people to make their own clean water – whether on a backcountry stream or a hotel tap in Bali. Grayl makes easy-to-use, portable water purifiers that make clean, safe water in just 15 seconds with One Press.

When GRAYL began partnering with Washington Wild, it occurred to me how similar GRAYL’s purifiers are to riversheds. Grayl treats water for the human gut like riversheds treat water for entire ecosystems – including downstream cities. GRAYL guides water through a special media, removing pathogens and chemicals from water.

Riversheds provide a similar filtration service for us all on a much grander scale. An intact rivershed (one that has escaped the impacts of logging, mining and other development) is literally a natural filter. Snow or rain falls on mountain peaks or tree canopies before slowly melting. This provides a manageable flow of water which is pulled down slope by gravity through a path of soil, rocks held together by tree roots, and vegetation which removes impurities and contaminants and ensures steady water flow, even in dry months. Eventually, clean, cold water is deposited into rushing mountain streams on its way to the Pacific Ocean – supporting every living creature, from the humble mountain fern to the mighty King Salmon.

Photo Courtesy of Travis Merrigan (Co-Founder and COO for GRAYL)

Eventually, clean, cold water is deposited into rushing mountain streams on its way to the Pacific Ocean – supporting every living creature, from the humble mountain fern to the mighty King Salmon.

Washington Wild works every day to protect wild functioning forests and rivers that provide clean water to fish, wildlife, and residents downstream. Protecting the forested upper watersheds of the now federally-designated Wild Sky Wilderness from the impacts of sediment from logging on steep slopes and pollution from mining has directly benefited the drinking water supply for the city of Everett and much of south Snohomish County.

The benefits of these intact forests go beyond just producing clean water. Forested slopes also reduce flooding by regulating the amount of water that accumulates by increasing evaporation of moisture from leaves and absorbing water into the ground. For salmon and other fish, native vegetation and roots literally hold the soil together when it rains, avoiding excessive sediment and higher stream temperatures that can negatively impact salmon spawning.

GRAYL is a member of 1% for the Planet – we donate over 1% of all revenue to environmental causes, including Washington Wild. We work with Washington Wild because our business depends upon our customers’ ability to access and recreate on public lands and their willingness to drink from our rivers. Washington Wild is a vital advocate for our public lands and our rivers. 

Donate today to protect the source of clean water!


Travis Merrigan is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Grayl, based in Seattle, WA.