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Milpitas Firm’s Device Generates Water From Air; Promoted As Possible Drought Relief

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An atmospheric water generator is on display at a press briefing outside the county building in San Jose, February 24, 2014. (CBS)

An atmospheric water generator is on display at a press briefing outside the county building in San Jose, February 24, 2014. (CBS)

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KCBS's Matt Bigler started as a reporter/anchor in 2004, and is now...
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) — Water officials in Santa Clara County unveiled technology on Monday that could help alleviate California’s drought by providing emergency drinking water.

Milpitas-based BJS Global Inc. makes an atmospheric water generator or (AWG) which creates drinking water by sucking it right out of thin air. The machine both looks and sounds a lot like a giant air conditioner, but with technology similar to a dehumidifier, passes air over cooled coils, which causes water to condense.

“You know how when you have your air-conditioning unit on and you get that water that condenses and spills out on the back? It’s a similar process,” said Norma Camacho with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

And yes, you can drink it, she said. They plan on testing the machine’s water quality under different environmental conditions.

“It literally produces water out of thin air,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.

He added that the generators could be used in an emergency during California’s record drought.

“There may be a need at some point to generate three or six-hundred, or 1,000 gallons overnight to put in tanks to store rather than trying to truck water in from somewhere far, far away,” he said.

The generators run about $40,000 each and require electricity to run, although some have proposed hooking them up to solar panels.

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