EarthWater Global

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Employing a unique business model and a technical paradigm with the potential to fundamentally change the perceived water balance, EarthWater Global uses technologies familiar to the oil and gas industries to locate and develop renewable, previously overlooked groundwater resources. In his book, “Modern Groundwater Exploration”, company President Robert Bisson details a concept of freshwater transmission through and collection in ‘Megawatersheds’: bedrock fractures formed by millennia of plate tectonics activity. Over time, water flowing through these fractures erodes the rock, creating sizeable pathways that may extend from tens to thousands of kilometers. The resources are massive: feasibility studies and case work with organizations including USAID, NASA, USDOE, and OFDA suggest that, if implemented globally, the Megawatershed Paradigm could expand upon known sustainable groundwater resources by 10 to 100 times. Some wonder how the water has been ignored for so long. Conventional hydrology both under-measures precipitation at high-altitude and fails to include crustal permeability in the freshwater balance. As a result, present day estimates of sustainable groundwater capacity are too low.

The benefits for global health and development are obvious. EarthWater’s solution is capable of providing potable water when and where it is needed most. The company assumes all upfront capital risk and then delivers water at a service rate that is highly competitive to alternatives. Wells have little to no environmental footprint, each requiring just 1/20th of a hectare. And, unlike traditional point-source solutions, EarthWater is able to site its wells at or near the point of demand. This is highly unusual in the water community: rarely can a country’s demographics determine sites of production.

This may all sound too good to be true. Officials at the US Geological Survey contend that water found in the bedrock is simply “relic groundwater” left over from previous climactic periods, and that EarthWater may be drawing from existing, known resources. But isotopic testing developed at the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which identifies the chemical fingerprint of groundwater resources in order to reveal age and origin, proves that Megawatershed water is separate from and additive to known supplies.

Trinidad and Tobago

In 1999, the island of Tobago was in the midst of a water crisis that threatened to deter foreign investment and curtail economic growth. The island’s 19,000 cubic meters per day (m3/day) deficit far outweighed the less than 1,900 m3/day of sustainable groundwater capacity expert hydrologists believed to be available. A very costly dam in the Western Hemisphere’s oldest protected rainforest appeared to be the only viable option. Hoping to avoid a 5-10 year wait and significant environmental damage, government authorities hired EarthWater to map and develop new water resources on a Build-Transfer Contract. Within twelve months, EarthWater identified over 190,000 m3/day of new capacity, an amount 100x previous incremental groundwater estimates, and delivered 19,000 m3/day to the Island’s waterlines. The latter quantity equaled that of the proposed dam, but it came at a fraction of the environmental and economic cost. Now, after eight years, the wells continue to deliver fresh, potable water to the island’s inhabitants on a sustainable and reliable basis.

Errol Grimes, CEO of the Island’s Water and Sewage Authority, says of the project, “This type of groundwater technology is very cost-effective and in terms of implementation, is very timely… It brings relief to customers very quickly. Groundwater traditionally requires less treatment than surface water sources. Really, I think this technology could be used on all of the islands in the Caribbean.” EarthWater went on to discover over 950,000 m3/day on the island of Trinidad and developed 76,000 m3/day for immediate use.


Over the last three decades, Bisson has proven his ability to develop large quantities of water in areas of the world previously perceived to be water-constrained. In 1984, USAID and the UN Refugee Agency called in Bisson’s team to a climate very different from that of Trinidad and Tobago. At the time, drought and conflict in Somalia aggravated acute famine and rampant cholera, and previous efforts to develop significant quantities of groundwater in the country’s West had failed. Before the project was terminated by civil war, the team identified over 76,000 m3/day of groundwater capacity and developed wells delivering 7,600 m3/day to those in need. Three years later, USAID again hired Bisson to develop water in Sudan. And although the State Department halted the drilling of production wells after the coup d’etat in 1989, the team identified more than 38,000 m3/day of new capacity in deep bedrock fracture zones.

Awards and Affiliations

At the 2008 World Water Awards, EarthWater was recognized for its groundbreaking work in Tobago: “By thinking outside the box, EarthWater Global has come up with a business proposition that could change the future of water development worldwide.”

EarthWater is a Founding Member of the Sustainable Water Alliance, a member of 1% of the Planet and is affiliated with the American Water Works Association, the Center for Research on the Environment and Water, the International Water Association, and the Partnership to Cut Poverty and Hunger in Africa.


Booklet - the online version of a booklet highlighting the dimensions of the Global Water Crisis and EarthWater's innovative solution to it; EarthWater was asked to create the book for the 2007 Emmy Awards Nominee Party where the theme was to showcase environmentally-friendly and sustainable solutions to several of the serious problems plaguing the world.

At the International Water Conference held at the United Nations, EarthWater presented the following on July 24th, 2008: "The Earth Leaks! Megawatershed Discovery Adds Significant New Water to the Known Hydrologic Balance" (Robert Bisson) Earth Water UN Presentation.pdf

At The Corporate Council on Africa's US-Africa Agribusiness Forum, EarthWater presented "Megawatershed Development: a Sustainable and Cost-Effective Means of Water Development" at the June 27th, 2008, panel titled, "Water Management: Investments to Shape Agribusiness in Africa" (Nick Rutherfurd) Corporate Council on Africa - EarthWater Presentation.pdf

The theme of the first African Water Week hosted by the African Development Bank Group in Tunis, Africa, was "Accelerating Water Security for Socio-Economic Development of Africa". On March 27th, 2008, EarthWater presented "How a Marriage of 21st Century Technologies, Hydrological Discoveries and Business Innovations will Change the Future of Africa, from Within Africa" (Robert Bisson) Tunis Presentation.pdf