Rotary Water Walk
Water Walk 9 slated for May 10th 2014
You've done it scores, even hundreds of times, each year. Each time it has been so effortless; you hardly noticed you had done it. You did it to fulfill an immediate need but never once celebrated the fact that you could even do it.
It was as simple as reaching out and turning a spigot; yet millions of people worldwide will never enjoy this simple luxury.
In Haiti, the prospect of potable drinking water flowing from a faucet is as remote as flying to the moon. In the slums of Port au Prince in Haiti; the aging infrastructure offers only flakes of rust instead of cool running water to quench your thirst. In the remote villages houses are too far apart to offer an affordable piped water supply to each home.
These are scenarios facing thousands of people that have been served by the international projects of the Rotary Club of Glens Falls. The club has for the past eight years offered hope to communities in Honduras, Haiti and Guatemala. They embarked on a journey that has taken its members to these countries to help the people fight the challenges of providing safe drinking water.
"Water, water everywhere..."
The problem is not often a supply of water. In many cases, there is adequate water available. The water is more likely unfit to drink due to surface contamination or the presence of parasites. These parasites invade the intestines of the children and adults leading to illnesses and diarrhea. Children are most vulnerable as they grow. They appear undersized for their ages and sometimes have developmental issues as well.
The Rotary Club of Glens Falls found the answer in an organization called Pure Water for the World (PWW). PWW had been founded by the Rotary Club of Brattleboro in Vermont. That club saw a need to offer water solutions to poorer, rural areas of the world where regular water systems were not neither affordable, nor practical.
The Answer: Bio-sand Filters
Safe drinking water was available through the construction and installation of free-standing bio-sand filters. The technology is so simple: the filter would provide physical filtration from the sand and gravel inside them. The bonus came from a biological layer that developed in the filter to combat the germs and parasites in the water supply.
Filter users rely on shallow streams and water holes as well as occasional deeper wells for their sole water source. Unfortunately, the water source is often contaminated by animal waste and human activity (washing clothes, washing vehicles and themselves). Each filter is about the size of an office water filter and weighs nearly 400 lbs. The shell is made of concrete, (more recently a poly plastic), and can weigh close to 300 lbs by itself. Added to this are two layers of differing sized gravel in the bottom and a larger layer of pure sand. A diffuser plate and PVC piping complete the unit.
The beauty of the filter is that it contains no moving parts, requires no maintenance and can be used effectively by locals with only a rudimentary education. Engineers estimate at least a 50 year lifespan per filter; with many believing that they could last nearly double that. Pure Water provides all the education and follow-up on-site that makes them a valuable partner to the Rotary Club.
The club knows that every aspect of the project will be covered with care and they receive regular reports outlining the progress of each project and analysis of how every dollar is spent. Rotary International also audits projects where it has contributed matching or grant funds to a project.
What $100 buys
$100 buys the construction, installation and follow up on a water filter in a household. It also covers the pre-installation, education, parasite control, and medical costs for each household prior to each filter being installed. The program only works, however, if an entire village is done at the same time. That requires a total "buy-in" from the community. Less than total commitment runs the risk of cross-contamination and loss of any gains the program makes.
The cost to do a village may run $20,000 or more for any sizeable community. Smaller villages usually cost less. The economy of scale does come into play when estimating costs for a project. Transportation cost can increase dramatically where homes are sparsely scattered and require distant delivery on often unmade roads.
The Water Walk
In response to that need; the Rotary Club of Glens Falls held its first Water Walk in 2006. Involving the whole club; it raised a meager amount that was enough to fund a Pure Water project in southern Honduras along with funds from other Capital region Rotary Clubs. Members of the Club traveled to Honduras to observe the work first-hand. The following year, former Glens Falls resident Charles Adams asked the club to consider his Water projects in Haiti. This work was ongoing with the club's help.
The Glens Falls Rotary will continue their efforts again this year in support of the children and familes in this Central American region. This year's Pure Water Walk will be held on Saturday May 10th from 10 am to 3 pm in Crandall Park, Glens Falls. The relay event is the culmination of months of preparation by the club. The event allows the teams who raise money for the club's Pure Water projects and have a fun day in the park. The relay has teams walking and/or running around the marked course in the park. Each team has as many members as they can on the course at one time and they try to generate as many laps as time and energy permit. Teams with the most laps, the best team outfits, the most money raised, etc will all be presented with award certificates. Everyone wins!
Participation and Education
With economic conditions becoming harder every year, organizers know that the money raised may be lower than in previous years. The club wants all teams to raise the most that they can of course. However, awareness to the plight of millions of people without fresh drinking water is a key factor in the event.
Children from schools and youth groups are encouraged to register a team and use the opportunity of the event to learn about and help solve the water issues worldwide.
To register a team or find out more visit the club's website at www.glensfallsrotary.org for information on the walk and to print or download all the forms and materials needed. Register now and start raising money for this worthwhile project.
Rotary Club of Glens Falls