Water Blog - WaterStep

Breaking the Cycle of Unsafe Water


“We must step up and do something right to break the cycle of enslavement, and access to safe water is the best way to empower and transform communities.”

Raphael Wanjala is from Nairobi, Kenya. He has initiated a long term partnership with WaterStep to transform his community through safe water. Now, Raphael is here exploring the next phases of transforming and empowering his community through sanitation. “Right now we are already doing water purification, and we are doing health education. If we can incorporate sanitation, we are going to save more lives.” With WaterStep, Raphael recognizes that in order for third world communities to thrive, the three components of water purification, health education, and sanitation, must be in place, and he is committed to helping his community solve the problem.

“Water is the core of your life, and the need is great,” Raphael says. If you would like to give to break the cycle of unsafe water for others like Raphael, please donate now.

Watch today’s WHAS11 segment on Raphael, and the power of working together:  Local Agencies Educate on Healthy Water

Together, We Can Do So Much More

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On Saturday, April 16, while many of us were still sipping our coffee, or watching cartoons with our children, families in Ecuador were scrambling for their lives in the midst of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Buildings were crumbling, the ground was splitting, suddenly destroying homes, businesses, roadways, and hospitals, and the availability of safe water.

Access to safe water in a disaster situation is critical. Without safe water, disinfectant, or proper health and sanitation education, a community’s health is severely compromised. Wounds cannot heal. Disease spreads. And, those who survived the earthquake are highly susceptible to dying from waterborne illness.

Recognizing this need, and possessing the proper technology, WaterStep began making plans to save lives with safe water in Ecuador. Since 2009, WaterStep has met the immediate needs of communities devastated by disaster, such as Costa Rica, Haiti, Philippines, and Nepal. WaterStep’s technology and training not only provides immediate relief, but our approach also promotes long-term, sustainable solutions to these communities. Our effective training in health and sanitation, partnered with our innovative technologies, help restore long-lasting hope and stability to families that have been shattered by disasters through the power of safe water.

On June 4th, a team of students from Indiana Southeast University, led by Dr. Magdalena Herdozia-Estevez, transported 46 chlorinators and 2 bleach makers to Ecuador. Another 54 chlorinators to follow over the next few weeks. These chlorinators can produce up to 1 million gallons of safe water a day to the areas worst affected by the earthquake. Dr. Estevez has graciously leveraged her relationship with IUS and Sister Cities of Louisville to partner with WaterStep, provide funding, and secure the transportation of chlorinators to Ecuador.

The community has also rallied together to show our compassion for our brothers and sisters of Ecuador. University of Louisville School of Music professor, Israel Cuenca, organized a concert to benefit WaterStep’s relief efforts in Ecuador on May 22. The concert raised $3,000 to go towards saving lives with safe water, and brought awareness about the devastation in Ecuador through beautiful music and dance. Read more here

In July WaterStep will send a team of 5-6 safe water experts to Quito to begin training in water chlorination, health education, and sanitation practices. Mark Hogg, CEO/Founder of WaterStep, says, “We work with groups that network together because most people do not know how to make water safe to drink.” For example, Hogg said, “We work with churches with 1,000 volunteers, and we will be there five to six days in an area to set up a training system. Training sessions are in the morning and afternoon to teach people how to operate the disinfectant machines and chlorine generators. We are teaching people to save lives. We are teaching people better health education” WaterStep’s objective is to empower local Ecuadorians to train each other, so that the fruit from these training sessions continues to multiply for years to come.

Please continue to follow the progress of our relief efforts here, and join us in making sure future disasters can be met with the same urgency by donating here.

Thank you for saving lives with safe water, and restoring hope in the midst of disaster! Together, we can do so much more.

WaterStep Plans Disaster Relief Effort for Ecuador

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WaterStep is preparing to respond to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16th, causing wide-spread devastation and more than 650 deaths. This is the deadliest quake to hit the South American country of Ecuador in decades. We are working with Socidades Biblicas Unidades de Ecuador, an Ecuadorian NGO that has established 50 refugee camps housing approximately 75,000 people. WaterStep is supplying the technology and education needed to effectively bring safe water and health education to the victims. We plan to launch our efforts as early as next week.

The situation in Ecuador continues to worsen due to aftershocks, mudslides, and the delayed collapsing of buildings. With the rainy season just around the corner, the threat of rapidly spreading water-borne disease is imminent. Officials have identified the need for safe water and disease preventing measures as the top priorities in the recovery efforts.

In addition to providing safe water equipment and health training, WaterStep will send their recently developed bleach maker to Ecuadorian health clinics for field testing. After witnessing many sanitation challenges in the field, as well as receiving a request from another NGO during the Ebola outbreak, WaterStep aimed to create a new technology that could produce medical grade bleach while remiaining simple, effective and portable. WaterStep led a group of volunteers from University of Louisville, Louisville Water Company and General Electric’s First Build Innovation Center worked together to develop this very powerful disinfectant tool, and it will be field tested in health clinics at the refugee camps in Ecuador.

Mark Hogg, founder and CEO of WaterStep says, “Over the years WaterStep has worked to develop a network of innovators, donors, and friends who together have seen the impact of safe water during dire times. In Ecuador, we were introduced to the leaders managing the response effort, and now we can work quickly and efficiently to save lives.”

When disasters like this strike, individuals and organizations often focus their relief efforts on sending bottled water to the affected communities. But in fact, WaterStep’s portable water chlorinator provides a more sustainable, long-term source of safe water at a tiny fraction of the cost required to ship pre-packaged water.

WaterStep is also assisting ‘Ecuatorianos in da Ville’, another local organization planning disaster relief efforts, by donating four of its innovative M-100 water chlorinators and training. WaterStep’s M-100 has been recognized internationally by Sustainia100 as one of the world’s most impactful and sustainable solutions. The M-100, which was developed by WaterStep with the help of volunteer engineers from General Electric (GE) and the Louisville Water Company, is a water chlorinator small enough to fit in a backpack, yet powerful enough to provide safe water for thousands of people each day. It uses table salt and a 12-volt car battery, or solar panels, to simply and safely produce chlorine gas. When the gas is injected into contaminated water, it is highly effective in killing disease-causing pathogens and can produce up to 38,000 liters of safe water each day. WaterStep’s M-100 is currently deployed in more than 25 countries around the world.

To get more information, or to donate to WaterStep’s safe water and health education projects, visit www.waterstep.org or call (502) 568-6342. 

Sanitation in Costa Rica

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El Jardin Sagrado is an international camp in Orosi Valley, Costa Rica

WaterStep will lead a six -member team that will travel to Orosi Valley, Costa Rica and begin a project providing proper access to sanitation. The team will include staff members from WaterStep and Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District, who will use their design and implementation expertise to provide appropriate sanitation systems to the 250-year-old small town of just over 4,500 people. The team will leave from Louisville on Saturday, March 12 and be in Costa Rica until March 19.

This will be WaterStep’s first sanitation project in the area. The team will work at an international camp owned by Global Missions, called El Jardin Sagrado, which hosts up to 1,000 international and local visitors year-round.

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El Jardin Sagrado looks out onto the river running through Orosi Valley.

The first phase of this project will focus on the central area of the camp, which includes water closets, restrooms, and showers. The team will install a new working septic system and add laterals into the rest of the camp. Once the WaterStep and MSD team show the owners of the camp how to install a working system, they will be able to repeat the process in other buildings on the camp, improving the access to sanitation across the camp.

WaterStep has provided sustainable water solutions – such as the M-100 chlorinator, and health education – to Costa Rica for 15 years and has led many trips to Orosi Valley. Teams have stayed at El Jardin Sagrado and worked with the leaders of the camp to find locations for safe water installations. WaterStep installed a water purification system at the camp in 2011.

According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation around the world, while over 660 million people still lack access to safe drinking water sources. A lack of access to proper sanitation and water can lead to health issues such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Costa Rica has had access to sanitation tools for years, but many community members need to be educated about the proper way to use sanitation and the importance of it.

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A previous WaterStep team gathers in a meeting room at the camp after installing a water purifier at a local school.

We are looking forward to this trip and are eager to share the results with you. To learn more about our past work in Costa Rica, click on our recent projects.

Flint Love Shoe Collection Day

Louisville continues to prove why it is a compassionate city. This month, we have partnered with people all around the city to raise money and collect shoes for the children of Flint, MI who were impacted by high levels of lead in their drinking water.

We have been so excited to see schools, companies, and individuals unite around this cause, and tomorrow we are hosting a Shoe-Collection Day to celebrate. Join us at WaterStep’s headquarters and bring a pair of used shoes to donate. Your used shoes will be sold to an exporter and the proceeds will go to our Flint fund. If you would like to make a donation, you can also visit Louisville Water’s Flint Love website.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to those who have already partnered with us by donating or collecting shoes! Check out all of our partners, below:


Flint Sponsors Updated WaterStep


We’ll be collecting shoes and donations all through the month of February. If you would like to join this group by donating or collecting shoes, check out Louisville Water’s Flint Love website.