College of Science

CSUMB Alumnus Danny Wright's Quest for Clean Water

In just three years since his graduation from CSUMB’s Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy Master’s program (now Applied Marine and Watershed Science), Danny Wright has made a profound, positive impact on the global water crisis through his founding of Gravity Water. Gravity Water is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Santa Cruz, with operations in various developing communities in Nepal. The number one cause of water-related illness and death around the world is fecal contamination from human waste. Gravity Water focuses on implementing their systems at schools since children are the greatest at risk. After launching in 2016, he and his team have provided clean drinking water to over 3,000 children.

Danny attributes Gravity Water’s success to the simplicity of the system’s design. Providing clean drinking water requires a freshwater source, filtration, and energy to create pressure for filtration. Most developing countries throughout the world have access to freshwater and even to filters and filtration systems, but the energy needed to operate these systems is often the largest limiting factor. Gravity Water uses the most freely available energy resource, regardless of location: gravity. Rainwater tanks are stored on elevated platforms allowing gravity to push the water through filters and preventing the water from coming into contact with human waste. As well as being environmentally sustainable through the use of rainwater, Gravity Water is also socially sustainable. The systems are built and maintained by community members, preventing dependence on foreign assistance.

Danny came up with the concept of Gravity Water as an undergraduate doing a field studies course in Belize, but he shared with us that the professors in the CSUMB AMWS graduate program equipped him with the tools to achieve his dream. Here, he learned to strengthen his grant writing skills, manage data, and implement water science. While at CSUMB, Danny also worked with the non-profit organization Surfrider to form the largest volunteer-based water quality monitoring program in the U.S.

It’s not only Danny’s work, but also his passion that inspires all who meet him. With a great big grin, he declares “I get to wake up every day knowing I’m doing something fulfilling.” Sure, there have been sacrifices along the way, but he admits that he’s never been happier in his life. Danny encourages students to continue learning from the world around them, and to not be discouraged by naysayers. He also encourages those that are interested in Gravity Water’s work or the general non-profit sector to reach out to him.

Congratulations on all your work thus far Danny. We look forward to seeing more amazing things from you!