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Couple in finals of National Geographic competition for water filter

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REDDING, Calif. - A husband and wife in Redding are finalists in a National Geographic competition that seeks out inspirational ideas to change the world.

Patty and Andy Pierce developed an affordable water filtration system that could potentially change many lives in developing countries.

A former plumber, Andy applied his knowledge with expensive large-scale filtration systems to make them more accessible to those in need.

"It basically takes all that technology of those large systems we were installing and then shrunk it down to a very small portable and cost effective device," said Pierce.

Andy said he came up with the idea while rebuilding an orphanage after the Haiti earthquake.

"I developed a water pump that I thought was just a one-off for the orphanage, and it turned out to be a very appropriate technology for millions of people in the developing world that are subsistence farmers," Pierce said.

The filters are made of hollow fiber membranes that Pierce said should last a long time without being replaced. Unlike household water filters, they self clean.

"That's really what I developed, was just a manifold system that utilizes six of the filters, and when it's running, the water flows through all six and out the spout and you can have dirty river, lake water come in, flows through the filters and out the spout," said Pierce.

Pierce said the filters can range from $150 to $200, and can pump out three gallons per minute.

They entered into a National Geographic competition called "Chasing Genius." Voting continues through Friday. If they win, they will be awarded $25,000.

"Whether we win or lose, we already feel like we've already won. It's already been a very positive experience," Pierce said.

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