You can help this Pittsburgh startup get clean water to families in India

“We want a child to be able to see someone use the filter and then use it.”

Rorus Spring

Rorus Spring

courtesy of Rorus
MJ Slaby

Rorus, a Pittsburgh-based startup that aims to provide clean water in a fast, simple way is now selling its filters.

The first orders to be filled are ones from nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits. And if you want to get in on the newly available filters, you can donate them to Save the Children in India through the company’s website.

“Right now, we can’t keep up with the demand,” said Corinne Clinch, CEO and co-founder of the company “… It’s really exciting, and it’s also a little terrifying.”

The company started selling the filters on Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) and sent about 1,000 filters this month to India, with plans to send thousands next month. After those orders are filled, Clinch said the company hopes to expand to other parts of the world.

Clinch and co-founder Uriel Eisen designed the filter as Carnegie Mellon University students and have raised funds for Rorus, which they founded in 2014, through startup contests and backers. They’ve also done various pilot tests. While there are other options for filters, Clinch said, they often use chemicals that require an engineer or have a long waiting process.

“We want a child to be able to see someone use the filter and then use it,” Clinch said, adding that the end result should also be water that is great tasting and looks and smells good, too. Here’s how the filters work:

While members of the general public can buy the filters, too, Clinch said they aren’t what she would design for an American home.

For example, the Rorus Spring filter system — which provides water for a family of six for six months with one cartridge — doesn’t fit in a fridge. And the Rorus FilterPack is a really big bag for 20 gallons of water, so it’s not something for one person to take on a hike, Clinch said. But, she added, it might work for a big group going somewhere.

But Rorus isn’t stopping with its current product lineup. Clinch said one plan for 2017 is a filter for a school or an office that doesn’t require a lesson or a lot of education. While the Rorus Spring serves about six people, this would be for 30 to 50 people, she said. Just like the filters for smaller groups, Clinch said what’s on the market for large groups are difficult to use and expensive to ship, and it relies on expertise from one person or a division of labor that works. That’s especially needed in Latin America, she said.

If places like churches and schools have clean water, then it’s a way to keep people engaged and keep kids in schools, Clinch added.

Clinch said Rorus also tested filters for one person in India, but the culture is so communal, that people wanted filters they could share with others.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in May that the filters will be largely made in the places they serve.

Trade-secret components will be made in the United States, but the company hopes to manufacture “as much of the filters as possible in the countries where we’re selling,” Ms. Clinch said.

Currently, orders that aren’t from nonprofits or NGOs, are expected to ship next year. The Rorus Spring and the Rorus Core (which is the cartridge for the filter) will ship in early 2017 and the FilterPack in late 2017. Buyers who order before shipping starts will get 20 percent off.

For people who donate the $25 filters now, Rorus is working with Save the Children in India to have integrated rollouts that include education about food prep and hand washing.