Many of us take clean water for granted. We open the faucet and out it comes, ready for drinking, cooking, bathing or cleaning.

In many parts of the world, it isn’t so easy. People walk for miles to gather water that is often contaminated with dangerous bacteria or viruses.

It was in a shower in Nairobi, Kenya where Ken Surritte realized that many Kenyans would give anything for the water he was watching go down the drain.

“All of a sudden, it hits me like a ton of bricks,” he said. “Water is life here.”

Surritte took this epiphany and in 2007 formed his non-profit, WATERisLIFE, which drills wells and distributes water filtration devices to developing countries across the globe.


The WATERisLIFE filter straw uses a two-stage membrane filtration system to filter out harmful bacteria and viruses. This life-saving filter is developed using components found in natural gas such as ethane, to form durable plastic films that make up the filtration membrane.


These byproducts of natural gas allow filtration to happen without added heat, meaning it uses less energy than other filtration processes like distillation, sublimation or crystallization.

People need a lot of water to survive — the average human uses 20 to 50 liters per day for basic needs like drinking and cooking. But this need is driving many to illness as they use contaminated water.

Thanks to oil and natural gas produced here in Oklahoma, Surritte’s organization can provide hope and relief to areas in desperate need of clean water.

Learn more about other ways the oil and natural gas industry is making life-changing innovation possible at oerb.com/energytoamaze. Or for more information on this Oklahoma-based non-profit, visit WATERisLIFE.com.

EnergyHQ is powered by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board – OERB – which is voluntarily funded by the state's oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners. The OERB provides free environmental restoration of abandoned well sites and works to educate the state's citizens about the oil and natural gas industry. For more on the OERB's mission and how it is funded, visit OERB.com.