Going Green is Going Clean:
Richmond Native’s Clean Water System Builds Safer Communities
By Janna M. Hall
In April 2014, patient help the city of Flint, Michigan changed its water source from the treated water of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to untreated water from the Flint River. Because officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors, this new supply of contaminated water made its way through aging pipes, exposing families in Flint to elevated levels of lead. The ultimate result? The Flint Water Crisis. Over 10,000 children to date have been exposed to the contaminated water supply, and now suffer from a host of health issues ranging from Legionnaires’ disease to learning disabilities. It wasn’t until nearly two years later, on January 5, 2016, that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint, and two weeks later, President Barack Obama declared a federal state of emergency, authorizing help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security. But the damage had already been done. Families spent months struggling to survive, bathe, and cook using bottled water, and thousands of children had already felt the irreversible damage caused by lead poisoning.
On May 4, 2016, President Barack Obama made a much anticipated visit to the city of Flint, his response to the letter written by Little Miss Flint, 8-year-old Amariyanna Copeny. In the face of tough criticism, President Obama shared an important message to the city’s residents: “…leaders, at every level of government, will not rest until every drop of water that flows to [residents’] homes is safe to drink, safe to cook with, and safe to bathe in.”
This has been Crystal Pure H2O Systems’ own mission since 1986. Originally known as Durastill, Richmond’s own Calvin Jones, Jr. took over his father’s company and dedicated his life to making sure every family has healthy, clean, and safe drinking water. Those three words in the company’s mission is what sets Crystal Pure H2O Systems apart from other water systems, specifically the system currently affecting Flint, Michigan. “Safe drinking water,” Calvin Jones, Jr. explains, “does not equal clean water. Safe drinking water doesn’t necessarily mean healthy water, either. Safe water means that at the bare minimum, it’s OK to consume.” Calvin Jones’ filtration system provides water that offers true health benefits to every family.
So how does he do it? For families unsure of their water’s cleanliness, Jones’ company takes a trip to the home, tests the current condition of the water, and makes recommendations based on what they find running through their pipes. They test for a wide range of potential contaminations and make suggestions for the water filtration system that best meets the family’s need. The most vital part is the contamination testing. Jones reveals that many residents, especially in the Prince George and Hopewell areas, have the impression that they’re on city water so they’re safe. What they don’t know is that the city only tests for a few contaminants of the thousands found in unsafe drinking water. And that’s where his company comes in. He’s found and successfully eliminated many potential threats, especially in the more rural areas where residents use well water.
Building Crystal Pure H2O Systems into the powerhouse it is today wasn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile usually is. His father, Calvin Jones, Sr. laid the solid foundation, but when he became ill, his son struggled to fully commit to carrying the torch. Calvin Jr. owned a successful insurance agency, was doing well, and had a vision of his own. His father’s business, while an important part of the Jones’ legacy, wasn’t a priority for Calvin Jr., so he considered closing its doors to focus on his own endeavors and build a legacy of his own. It wasn’t until a candid conversation with his pastor that he realized keeping Durastill’s doors open was important—not just for the family legacy, but for the African American legacy as well.
“My pastor reminded me that my father wasn’t just a business owner, but a black business owner during a time when Blacks weren’t commonly their own boss. He dedicated his life and put lots of hard work into building Durastill and expanding it from Richmond all the way to New Jersey.” His pastor insisted that he couldn’t get rid of the business and let his legacy fade away. He assured Jones that if he hung in there, people would step in and help expand the business. There was no way he could get rid of it. And sure enough, shortly after becoming the new President/CEO of Durastill and changing the name to Crystal Pure H2O Systems, LLC, the help his pastor spoke of showed up. James Pierce, a member of his church and an engineer with over 30 years of experience in the water industry, came on board and is now an official partner. The business has grown in ways unimaginable, and now services families in Virginia, Maryland, DC, New Jersey, Florida, and stretches as far west as California.
It comes as no surprise that watching the tragedy in Flint unfold has affected Jones both personally and professionally. “Water is to our bodies what gas and oil are to a car,” Jones says. “We simply cannot function without water. Our bodies are 70% water. Our blood is 83% water. Our brain is 75% water. Our kidneys are 79% water. People can survive without food, but without water, you’ll die. So to not be able to use the water in your own home is completely devastating.” He also notes that this tragedy affects not only the people in Flint, but the city as a whole. “No one wants to vacation there, no one can sell their home. It’s affecting the city’s economy. People [in leadership] have to take responsibility for what they’ve caused.”
Jones recalls many instances where he’s visited the homes of families who lacked clean water, but has never seen contamination the way he’s seen it in Flint. In his 30 years in the water distillation industry, he’s never seen so many people affected, and has certainly never seen any case receive national attention. So the national conversation around the government and EPA’s responsibility, or lack thereof, for poisoning a city is critical. Not only are the residents of Flint permanently affected, but the paranoia has spread from county to county. “[Since Flint], we’ve gotten calls to come and do more water tests. People continue to call and make sure everything is working properly within their water system. And even though we’re confident in our product and services, we come out and check their equipment.”
Their fear is justified, Jones says. “To see American citizens unable to use the water in their own home is a wake-up call for the rest of us. The water system is the most unsuspected source of government terrorism. You can’t avoid using your water.”
Jones points out that a common misconception is that households with severely affected water can simply use store-bought filters like Brita and similar brands. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and most importantly, isn’t cost-effective. “Those types of filters aren’t built to handle the magnitude of the problems in the water,” Jones says, “And you’d have to replace them every three months.” Crystal Pure H2O Systems offers long-term solutions and ensures the families they service reap the benefits of going green with their effective water distillation system.
Since the state of emergency declaration, Crystal Pure H2O Systems has had their manufacturers donate filters to Flint. The filters—which use the carbon filtration system—will remove lead, which is most important, but they’ll also remove often overlooked contaminants. Calvin Jones, Jr.’s commitment to providing healthier, cleaner, and safer drinking water starts at his home in Richmond, Virginia, but his mission and impact is felt nationwide.
For more information on how to test the quality of water in your home, call 804-275-3500.