Blog - WaterStep

8-year-old holds birthday party for water



A quick post to celebrate another one of our great volunteers. Jonah is an eight-year-old boy from Kentucky who decided to fundraise for safe water projects. For his eighth birthday, he sent out invitations to his birthday party requesting donations instead of presents. “My mom gave me $20 and then all of my friends and family gave me $20,” Jonah told me when I asked him how he did it. “The most exciting part was when I heard that I had $250. I thought I was going to raise $100!”

Thanks to his heart and compassion, Jonah will be supporting water projects around the world like our upcoming project in Uganda.

If you’re interested to hold a fundraiser for your birthday, wedding, or other special event, we have online tools and support to help you get started. Check out our Fundraising section for more information.



60,000 pounds of shoes means a well for a community in Uganda

Last month for World Water Day, we challenged the WaterStep community to collect a semi-truck full of shoes to help bring water to a village in Uganda – about 22,000 pounds of shoes.

We were blown away by the response. Schools, businesses, churches, and individuals donated their bags of used shoes by the dozens, collecting a total of not one, not two, but three semi-trucks of shoes.

That’s over 60,000 pounds of shoes.

People from around the country hosted shoes drive and participated in shoe challenges:


World Water Day KUNA shoes 2

Middle school and high school students from all over Kentucky brought their shoes to the YMCA Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA) throughout the month of March.



World Water Day North Carolina shoe drive

Sandra Davis in North Carolina decided to lead a shoe drive inspired by the memory of her late husband, and ended up collecting half of a semi-truck of shoes.




World Water Day Delaware shoe drive

And 17-year-old Emma Rider in Delaware collected a full semi-truck of shoes, making this her fifth tractor trailer load since she started collecting shoes to support water projects when she was 12.




World Water Day Hite Elementary shoes

Fifth graders from Hite Elementary School came by our headquarters for a field trip to see what their shoes were doing to provide safe water to people that need it.

And so many more! For everyone who held shoe drives or who dropped off their shoes here in Louisville, thank you. Your shoes mean we will be able to dig a well for the small community of Kaabowa Village in Uganda. Thanks to your help, we’re starting the first phase of our project there, digging a well so that more of the community has nearby access to water.

After that, we’ll be installing household filters, setting up water purifiers, building latrines, and implementing a community health program for students and families. Learn more about the project and how you can help provide safe water to Kaabowa Village.


See the project

World Water Day Uganda well 3

World Water Day

World Water Day water and sustainability 2


This Sunday, March 22, is World Water Day. In honor of this year’s theme – Water and Sustainability – I wanted to share a photo that we’ve never shared before. This photo comes from a school in Costa Rica, where WaterStep has one of its longest-standing programs. School girls are brushing their teeth and washing their hands at a sink. When my team tested the water at their school in 2013, it turned black with fecal contamination. When we showed the water sample to the principal, his face turned white with surprise.


School staff, including the principal, were trained how to operate and maintain the system. This is always the most exciting part of an installation. After being trained, you turn the tables and ask the trainees to train the trainer. Their faces change as they become confident in their ability to operate the system and provide safe water for their students. They no longer have to depend on someone else.


The students at this school depend on water at school, not just for drinking, but for eating, brushing their teeth, and washing their hands. Before, all of the students knew the importance of hygiene, but they were performing basic hygiene practices with dirty water.  Now, trained staff members are able to continue to provide safe water every day for their students, so they can drink, eat, wash their hands, and brush their teeth with safe water. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s powerful because it’s sustainable.


The United Nations created World Water Day as an annual effort to call attention to the importance of safe drinking water. In Louisville, Kentucky, where I live, just one penny can provide 66 glasses of water from the faucet but around the world,  748 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water – that’s more than 2 ½ times the population of the United States. World Water Day is a day to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and to look forward to what still needs to be done. In the last ten years, we’ve come a long way to providing safe water the millions of people that don’t have it, but we still have work to. There are still schools like this one.


There’s a school just like this in the rural community of Kaabowa Village, Uganda, where we are working to build a program as sustainable as the one in Costa Rica. You can be a part of World Water Day by helping us reach our ambitious goal of 22,000 shoes by March 22 that will support the first phase of this project.


Are you local? Want to learn more about the importance of water in the world and how you can be a part? Join us this Sunday for World Water Day at the Louisville Water Tower for a day of educational talks, interactive activities, and family fun to celebrate the world’s most precious resource. Guests to the WaterWorks Museum will learn the value of drinking water in this community and worldwide by helping to create a “water main” that will stretch across the front of the Museum.  Guests can also donate spare change that will benefit drinking water efforts in other communities through the Louisville Water Foundation.

WHEN: Saturday, March 22nd, from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

WHERE: WaterWorks Museum at Louisville Water Tower Park, 3005 River Rd., Louisville, KY 40207


World Water Day water and sustainability 1

A Picture of Kaabowa Village

Water in Uganda

The community model is WaterStep’s approach to providing safe water to a community for a lifetime. The community model addresses the water needs one individual, one family, one community at a time.

This year, we are looking to Kaabowa Village in Uganda. Dr. Ssenoga reached out to us to explain their need for safe water, and together, we have developed a plan that will address the water needs of the entire village for years to come.

Kaabowa is a small village in the Mubende district of Uganda with a population of just 1,300 people. However, children from neighboring villages walk an average of 3 miles to get to Kaabowa each day because they have four schools with about 500 children each. The village also is home to a central market area that people walk miles to visit.

The market center and high schools give Kaabowa an impactful place in the Mubende community. The influence of the schools in the area is wide. Children who come to the community each day drink unsafe water, which is still one of the leading causes of sickness and death in the region.

Water in Uganda

Drilling wells wills in Kaabowa will be a first priority, which will have a ripple effect throughout the entire district as new water sources become available. The second phase of the project will include providing safe water in the schools and several pit latrines throughout the community. Finally, each family will be equipped with a household water filter.

We are so excited to begin this project in Uganda, but we need your help to make it happen. You can learn more on our project page and see how you can support the community model in Kaabowa Village.

Manufacturing Safe Water Technology

Volunteer Dr. Joe Jacobi has been an integral part of WaterStep’s mission for years, leading the development and manufacturing of the M-100 Chlorine Generator. Below, he shares how he got involved with WaterStep and how volunteering has been important to him. Learn how you can get involved and save lives with safe water.

A few years ago after selling my dental practice of 36 years, I did some investigating into local nonprofits trying to find one where I might contribute something of substance to them and I would find fulfilling for my needs as well.  My dear wife, Kathy, suggested I talk to Mark Hogg of WaterStep.  I had heard Mark speak and demonstrate the water purifier they use at the Festival of Faiths in Louisville a few years earlier and the purpose of the organization intrigued me. Mark and I arranged to meet for coffee and after drinking countless cupstogether, he invited me to come down and meet some of the people who worked there.

The more I understood their purpose and mission, the more I began to realize that they were not in the water business but the health care business:  Saving lives through safe water.  I found myself back in health care again but in a most basic way.

General Electric volunteers build water purifiers

I was volunteering at WaterStep when Mark told me WaterStep was planning to develop their own chlorine generating device which is the heart of the water purification system. This would give them control of costs and availability of the equipment, and thereby increase the number of lives improved through safe water.  He asked me to join the group of volunteer engineers who were developing this vital piece of equipment.

I enjoyed working with the engineers to develop and test the new design.  While the process was not smooth or easy, we eventually developed working prototypes.  We tested them in the lab and out of the country to finalize the best design.  Mark asked me if I wanted to supervise the manufacture of the new M-100 Chlorine Generator.  With the help of the WaterStep staff, volunteer engineers and workers, we developed the organization and tools needed to produce the M-100 Chlorine Generator.

We have attracted an amazing group of people who volunteer on a regular basis to devote their time, talents and energy.  The men and women volunteer to carefully construct a simple-to-use device that can improve the quality of life of many people and save many lives through safe water on an easily sustainable basis.  Their suggestions for constant improvement have improved the reliability and durability of the M-100, and they proudly send a little of themselves around the world in each and every unit. Around our work tables, we like to say that we are following an old Kentucky tradition of building our machines handmade, high quality, in small batches, and enjoyed around the world!

It has been a real blessing for me personally to be involved at WaterStep on several levels.  On one level, building the M-100 gives satisfaction to my need to create and build something that will positively affect the lives of thousands worldwide. But more importantly it has given me the opportunity to work with a fine group of dedicated people who have somehow found their way to come together and work collectively for the good of others.  In these troubled times they restore faith in humanity.

Learn more about the M-100 in this assembly video:

Join us in saving lives in Costa Rica

WaterStep Director of Training and Trips Claudia Daniels shares the needs of a community in Costa Rica. You can join us on our next trip to the community where we are saving lives with safe water. Check out her story below and learn more about Claudia on our Staff page.


There is this small town in Costa Rica where a sweet lady named Cecilia lives. Her heart for the children in the neighboring slum is overflowing with love, and kids follow her in the streets like the pied piper. They come to her for safety, love and food.

Cecilia is not a woman of great means. In fact, at night she goes to her neighbor’s house asking for leftover rice and beans to feed the children the next day. She makes a meal for them in her house and carries the food to a small feeding center where the children line up for a hot lunch.

costa rica community

Cecilia knows the need for safe water in the community and knows that these kids are not only lacking in food but their health is suffering as well from contaminated water.

Our partner in Costa Rica, Ana, asked us if we could come and bring safe water to these children. A team of 12 from Cornell University traveled to Costa Rica, taught Health Education to the children and installed a purification unit in Cecilia’s son’s bodega (store). Here Cecilia set up a small business selling safe water for a couple of colonies, which is much cheaper than the bottled water people were buying. She supplied safe water for the children and cooked their meals with safe water and with the money she made, she was able to buy fresh food for the children.
Costa Rica safe water

Now, two years later, the feeding center needs to expand. This summer we will bring another team to help provide safe water to the new center where Cecilia will cook on site. Join us as we continue our work and build our relationship with this unbelievable lady and her the kids she loves.  Learn how you can  travel with WaterStep on an upcoming trip. Maybe even join the trip that brings safe water to Cecilia’s new feeding center.

Getting Involved – Cliff Carlson

Guest blogger Cliff Carlson shares how he and his family got involved with WaterStep and how it has made an impact on his life.


During my daughter’s 11th grade high school year in 2007, she needed to fulfill a Beta Club requirement of outreach. While talking to a family friend, it was recommended that she look into supporting an event called I Thirst with a group called Edge Outreach, which is now WaterStep.

I remember hearing about the posters she put up and remember little else about what she did, as all she talked about was the people. She spoke about how special they were and how much of a heart they all had for helping others. She told me I needed to meet Mark Hogg and get to know him.

At the time I was an executive with PPG Porter Paints. After making the connection, Mark and I were able to bring PPG Porter Paints into the mix with various paint donations to help meet the needs of the local outreach going on at that time. As WaterStep continues to grow, it has been a blessing to be involved both personally and professionally.

2013-12-12 21.40.10

By supporting WaterStep, we are providing safe water to countries in which mothers sometimes take up to two years to give their children a name because of the extremely high death rate. We are providing WaterBalls that carry water so women who walk for miles don’t have to carry buckets on their heads. We are sending life-saving water technologies on the USNS Comfort, put on by the Southern Command of Miami which coordinates events in Central & South America as well as the Caribbean.

WaterStep changes lives for the better.

For me personally, the greatest experience I have had with WaterStep was when they acquired their new building on Myrtle Street. I had the honor to kick off the paint day with 62 professional painters at 7am that Saturday morning. I got to explain to them how what they were doing would affect people’s lives around the world forever.

That day may not sound like that big of a deal, but to me, knowing what I know about WaterStep, it was a key moment in my life. I am continually blessed to be involved currently on bigger ideas, which will not only help the city of Louisville but also further the underlying mission, which is to save lives with safe water.

The bottom line for me is, as I walk the hallways in the WaterStep building, I can’t help but feel like I am standing in the breach between life and death for so many people I may never even meet. There is something profound and beautiful in being a part of something which transcends our own lives and our world as we see it. WaterStep has given me and many other that opportunity.


At WaterStep, we are continually blessed by supporters from our community who sue their skills and resources to help us work toward our mission: Save lives with safe water. If you’re interested in getting involved, like Cliff, check out our many opportunities.

A letter from a doctor in Uganda




Read the letter below from Dr. Ssenoga Dickson, whose working in rural Uganda to provide support and health services to people living with HIV/AIDS. This year, we at WaterStep are working with Dr. Ssenoga to bring safe water to the one of the communities where he works, called Kaabowa Village, and we’re asking you to be a part.


Where I live, people die from diseases because they don’t believe there is treatment.


Growing up in rural Uganda, I saw the toll of disease on people’s lives. Many children had parents that died from AIDS, leaving them alone to support themselves. The pain that I felt for these kids and a passion to help them took root in my heart.


So my cousin Willy and I started treating patients, not only AIDS patients, but people with malaria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Even though we were treating these diseases, people were still getting sick because they were ignorant about proper health practices – people were still drinking contaminated water.


Like many of the communities where I work, life in the community of Kaabowa Village is characterized by poverty. People have to travel long distances to look for safe water, others get water from open ponds shared with animals – this has resulted in cholera outbreaks and other waterborne illness. Children can’t go to school because they’re collecting water, adults don’t have the energy to work because they’re sick.


The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. While the problem in Kaabowa Village is big, the solutions are simple. We have plans to bring safe water to Kaabowa Village. When safe water is available year round, students will be able to go to school because they have better health. People will spend less time being sick, and more time tending to their crops. Health will improve, and the economic status of the community will rise.


But Willy and I can’t do it by ourselves.


Alongside WaterStep, we’re asking you to be a part of helping Kaabowa Village. We have plans to dig two wells, install two mini-water treatment plants, and provide health education. You can help by donating money and spreading the word.


Together, we can help Kaabowa Village get the safe water it needs. Thank you.

Dr. Ssenoga


See the project

Looking ahead to 2015, an upcoming announcement from Uganda


Only a month in, and 2015 is already off to a busy start. Nineteen water purification systems have arrived in the Philippines and are ready for installation. We’ve got training dates lined up for water treatment, health education, and well repair. Seven water project trips are going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. College students in Kenya are teaching health education in Nairobi slums after going through our distance learning program. Water purifiers have been shipped to such varied places as India, Honduras, and Nepal.


Next week, we’ll be announcing some exciting developments with a project in Uganda.


And there’s more good news! We successfully met the full amount of the Living Water Fund, a $100,000 matching grant by an anonymous donor, by more than $250,000. Thanks to our wonderful donors, we’re moving into 2015 with energy and excitement.


This year, we’re focusing on providing community-wide solutions towater problems. This isn’t really a new concept for WaterStep, but rather an extension of what we’ve been doing for years. We call it the Community Model.


The goal of the Community Model is to bring safe water to entire communities. Every community has a unique mix of problems that require a unique mix of solutions, and we work with people to find the right solutions for them. I explain a little bit more about how the Community Model works in a talk I gave at the IF Water Conference last September:




Water is a community-wide problem. If water is a problem, it is shared by everyone. A problem that effects every person in the community needs a holistic solution. The community model addresses water problems at multiple levels. Multiple solutions paired with training strengthen the community’s ability to take care of their own water supply and ensure long-lasting solutions.


I’m excited that our project this year focuses on the community model in Uganda. In a country where 1 in 3 people don’t have access to safe water, waterborne illness is a daily struggle for many. For one small community called Kaabowa Village, the struggle is a deadly one that many lose.


Next week, I’ll be sharing a little bit more about Kaabowa Village, and the Ugandan doctor that has dedicated his life to helping them. Stay tuned for his story, and how you can help Kabaawa Village get the water it needs to survive and thrive.


- Lauren

Video: Nicaraguan partner works to bring water to rural communities

Take a minute to watch this video about our wonderful partners in Nicaragua, Puentes de Esperanza. The video comes from the California-based company People Water who accompanied us on a well repair project in Nicaragua last November.

The work that WaterStep does would not be possible without people like Rafael Alvarado and his team.

If you’re interested in being a part of a well repair project like this one, learn more about well repair training that we offer throughout the year. Learn how to assemble and disassemble pump parts, troubleshoot common problems, and help communities around the world fix their broken hand pumps and get reliable access to water.


Fifth Anniversary of Haiti Earthquake


Five years ago today, we remember with deepest sympathy the people of Haiti and their great loss of family, structure and hope. Here are some reflections, including a short video from that time put together by our friends at City On A Hill.

January 12, 2010 was a Thursday. At 5:15pm, a friend called the office to give us a heads up that minutes before, a severe earthquake had ravaged Haiti.

We were concerned for the safety of our missionary family in the Dominican Republic and those we knew in-country. Immediately, a long night of phone calls was launched. We looked for our Haitian friends, contacted NGO partners and made sure our local supporters and churches knew what was happening. We turned up the volume on the news channels and watched with the rest of the world as the horror unfolded.

In the midst, The Salvation Army asked us to help them respond with water. As the hours passed, our thoughts turned toward a plan and the possibility of a larger effort.

The next morning, I came to the office early. Fifteen people were already standing outside the door; several were strangers. They greeted me and said, “We thought WaterStep (then EDGE Outreach) might be attempting to do something for the crisis in Haiti and we want to help.” Humbled, I unlocked the door. During the next 6 weeks, 24/7 and then beyond, our staff, friends, community and volunteers committed to bring water in a sustainable way to those people living in an upheaved land.

It seems selfish at the price of such loss to others saying those moments changed us, but they did. Winston Churchill said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Transformation can be a choice. But earthquakes force transformation upon us with no regard. A man once told me, “It’s better to move through tragedy than past it.” It’s true, but messy. This perspective reveals past pain that’s a part of us, clearly seen and felt in our hindsight.

The people of Haiti didn’t choose their transformation, but continue to live it by allowing its memory to dictate hope or despair. As a global community, we remember too. While we embrace all things tragic and celebrative, it would be a great loss to waste this moment not reflecting on its impact in our own lives.

It has surely transformed me. I owe it to the people of Haiti to ponder that.

Though these past years have seen much good happen, the scars are deep. The earthquake blast peppered its devastation into the life of every single Haitian. Its impact continues to vibrate like the rumblings of rolling terrain as a part of their history. Today, I simply ask that Haiti remember less and less the reverberation of the land and more and more echoes of renewal that could pour within their hearts.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

To all the people of the WaterStep team who sacrificed their time, talent, treasures and knelt in prayer during those months of 2010.

To our Haitian friends who have given their lives to the dream of a healed country.

To the NGO’s and churches who worked along side us equipping, enabling us, empowering us to be better.

To the community of Louisville for believing that ordinary people can make a difference.

To the men and women who joined our teams on the ground from Haiti, Canada and the U.S. at great risk – there are no words.

And to God. May we eventually see your hope on the other side of all calamity.

I invite your response on how the earthquake five years ago impacted your own life and the lives of those you care about.



Mark Hogg
Founder and CEO

From India: Pairing water with microbusiness

Read about WaterStep’s upcoming work with ShantiSeva Trust this spring, where we will be working to provide safe water for communities in central India where ShantiSeva’s micro-lending initiatives are helping to lift communities out of poverty.


Long-time WaterStep volunteer Ravi Jain is incorporating water purification into work in his home country of India, where he works with villages in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

ShantiSeva Trust, a nonprofit organization founded by Ravi in Louisville, Kentucky, works to empower marginalized communities of India, focusing on micro-lending and entrepreneurial initiatives for women living in rural areas. Ravi spends 4-5 months of the year in India, working with people to start small businesses as seamstresses, shopkeepers, and merchants. These small loans help people to escape poverty, so they can provide housing, food, medical care, and education for their families.

Magraniya, India - health education


During a trip last February, Ravi identified two communities that need access to a safe water source. He laid the groundwork for the installation of mini water treatment plants in the two communities of Kisoni and Magraniya. In Magraniya, Ravi led a service camp, where he taught health education to college students. The students then went house to house throughout Magraniya, teaching about proper hand washing, waste disposal, and water storage.

In these two communities, people complain of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. A mini water treatment plant that generates chlorine can remove 99.99% of waterborne pathogens and bacteria in the water, enabling greater health for the community.
Kisoni, India - well repair

Kisoni, India - water purification India Mark II 2


Health education, which has already started in Magraniya, increase the prospective success rate of the project. Teaching people how to properly wash their hands, alongside water purification and sanitation, can cut cases of diarrhea in a community almost in half.

The work has begun, but there’s still more to do. Ravi is leaving for India this month, and plans to install mini water treatment plants in both Kisoni and Magraniya. He will work with each community to identify the best water solutions, incorporating water purification, health education, and microbusiness. Access to safe water can improve the health of the community, allowing them to focus on other things, like family, education, and careers.


From Nicaragua: Waiting for water

by Lauren Hack

 From a recent project in Nicaragua, where WaterStep works with Water Ambassadors of Canada and Puentes de Esperanza. 

1 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


Anacielo approached the well where our team was working with some uncertainty. Here was a sight she didn’t see every day: The hand pump that she used to get water for all of her cooking, washing, and drinking was dismantled with its tank in the air, spouting water.

While uncertain, she seemed determined. “Are you using that water?” she asked. We told her we were pumping water to measure the flow, but that she could certainly have the water if she’d like. Her face brightened and she motioned to up the hill where her husband stood.

“Get the buckets!”


3 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


5d - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2

5e - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


Within minutes Anacielo was filling a 50-gallon barrel her husband had carried from their house. She worked patiently as she poured bucket after bucket into the barrel. She assured me that she would only use this water, which was murky from sediment kicked up by the pump, for cleaning floors. This was more water than she’d seen in a while, and she wanted to take advantage of the momentary wealth.

Water was precious in Las Cañas. Here, everyone depended on one of several wells for all of their water needs. This particular well had produced less water in recent months. Now, a person might pump for an hour or so before the water stopped flowing, leaving the well dry until the next day.

(Dropping an electric submersible pump down a well is a little unusual for a well repair project. We were interested to see how much water there was in the well, based on the community’s information that water flow had been low, stopping after an hour or two of pumping. The logical explanation was that either the water table was lowering, or debris was clogging the screen at the bottom of the borehole, preventing water from passing through. If it was the latter, we hoped the submersible pump might unclog some of it.)


6 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


As the water ran clearer, word of the flowing pump spread.

Another woman showed up with a few 5-gallon buckets. Then another got line.


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8 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


Family members showed up with buckets. A small crowd gathered in the courtyard of the town kindergarten. People filled their buckets, took them home, then came back to get in line again.


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14 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2


While we were waiting, Anacielo spoke to me of the continued presence of our local partners Puentes de Esperanza in Las Cañas. This well had originally been converted to a closed India Mark II hand pump system from an open rope pump system three years ago. Before that Puentes had set up medical clinics and helped with the construction of the church. She spoke of the impact it had in Las Cañas and how their continued support meant hope for her and her community.

After everyone had filled their buckets to satisfaction, the team finished repairing the well. Water was flowing steadily, as it had been for several hours. People from Las Cañas gathered around the well for a photo and took turns at the newly-repaired well.


15 - Nicaragua_Las Cañas_Pump #2

From Nicaragua: Giving thanks

With Thanksgiving only a few days a way, we at WaterStep wanted to take a moment to thank the many donors, volunteers, supporters, and advocates that strengthen WaterStep’s mission to provide safe water to the people that need it most. Here’s a short video from a well repair project last week in Nicaragua to say thank you!


By: Kelsey Roberts

Once known as the “Graveyard of the West,” Louisville has redeemed its 19th century reputation for waterborne illness to become a breeding ground for safe water technology and innovation.



On November 8, 2014, WaterStep held Hack20 Water Hackathon, a new event that convened Louisville’s bright minds and willing hands to prototype solutions for a global water problem. By midmorning, students, engineers, humanitarians and idealists had formed teams that would devise solutions to improve drinking water in developing countries.

Steve Keiber joined the approximately 40 individuals who contributed to Hack20 Water Hackathon. Keiber said, “Something might help somebody out there somewhere, make life a little easier for someone.”

Andrew Cozzens, a participant and employee at FirstBuild which hosted the event, agreed with his teammate. This optimism led both Keiber and Cozzens to devote a Saturday constructing a brake for the WaterBall, which helps women and children transport water in a more efficient way.

Other projects included a titanium dioxide/solar energy filtration unit, a method to remove arsenic from Costa Rica’s drinking water, an alternative transport for WaterStep’s M-100 chlorine generator, a portable laboratory to manufacture disinfecting sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and a wireless device that alerts when water hand pumps malfunction.

James Armstrong, a design engineer at GE Appliances, worked on the alert system for malfunctioning hand pumps. In addition to being a professional tinker, Armstrong has installed a few M-100 chlorine generators in Ethiopian schools and orphanages. He is unlikely to forget why potable water technology is imperative. Armstrong and his wife adopted a son from Ethiopia who suffered from water dwelling giardia parasites that cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating and weight loss.

Also unlikely to forget the importance of investing in safe water technology is Sam DuPlessis Jr. DuPlessis, also working on the hand pump alert system, chose to spend his 18th birthday at Hack20 Water Hackathon with his father and 11-year-old brother. The DuPlessis family knows that unsafe water and poor sanitation are serious issues for the developing world. Equally as important, the DuPlessis family understands new technology can be a key part of the solution.

“It’s about people helping other people around the world,” said DuPlessis, who gladly supported WaterStep and its beneficiaries on a day he could celebrate with friends.

Meanwhile, Juan He, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate at the University of Louisville Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, contributed her professional knowledge to the titanium dioxide/solar energy filtration project. Like others in her group, He wanted to know if water purification was possible without using WaterStep’s traditional chlorine generator. She hoped scientific observation and mathematical equations could result in a cost effective tool for the developing world. He’s decision to address WaterStep beneficiaries as “developing” countries instead of “undeveloped” countries shows she  believes progress for third world nations is possible. Just like WaterStep and those who support its mission, He believes global access to safe water could be one step closer thanks to a room full of students, engineers, humanitarians and idealists.

Hack2O was not simply a one-day event. The effects of the ideas and innovation from the day will stretch for years to come. A few key results from the event include:

  • WaterStep can fast track adding a brake to the WaterBall for safety.
  • The possibility of using less energy to purify water with WaterStep’s M-100 chlorine generator.
  • Ideas for using common materials in the developing world to transport water more easily.
  • Defining possibilities for people in an area of Costa Rica to take arsenic out of their water.


Special Thanks to:

The FirstBuild Team
Mary Beckman, Taylor Dawson and Randy Reeves
Dr. Thad Druffel, University of Louisville, Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research.
Juan Emmanuel Afable, MSD
Elliot Bauer, LG&E

Kevin Nolan, GE
Ted Smith, Metro Louisville
Dr. Mickey Wilhelm, J.B. Speed School

Sunergos Coffee
Phil Back for graphic design
WaterStep Prep Team Kurtis Daniels and Joe Jacobi



From Costa Rica: Germs that sparkle


How do you explain germs to a little girl?  Pam Pusty, WaterStep’s Director of Education, was in a community in Cartago, Costa Rica, teaching health education and hit on the perfect way to explain germs to a little girl — she sprinkled bright, colorful glitter over the little girl’s hands to show her how germs can stick to our fingers and make us sick.

Next, how do you explain to a little boy that flies transmit disease? Pam and her coworkers performed a skit about how pesky flies land on all sorts of things: “Poop! Garbage!” Pam announced, and the little boys laughed with mischievous glee. Pam continued: “Then they land on us again, and because they carry disease, they can make us sick.”

Though the kids were receptive, Pam says her information made the biggest impression on the mothers sitting quietly in the back of the room. “There were three Moms sitting there, and their heads went up immediately. They looked at us, and you could tell they were having this moment of ‘Really? Wow.’”

Pam says, “They told me later that they didn’t know that disease was transmitted by flies.”

When Pam finished her health training, she turned to thank the woman who had opened her home for the presentation. Pam says: “I was shocked to see she had a tear going down her face. She said, ‘You have brought us so much. I want to learn more. If I get more mothers, will you teach more?’”

It can be a life or death question. Roughly 1,400 children die every day from diarrheal diseases linked to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

“That afternoon was a life changing time for me,” Pam says. “I’d like to think that sitting in the audience there was a future World Health Organization worker, a future nurse, a future doctor. I know those kids got what I was saying.”

And it’s important that they do understand, because health education is key to making a water project successful. Teaching about hand washing, proper disposal of waste, and transmission of disease alongside water purification can cut diarrhea cases in a community almost in half. Even better, when students learn health education at school, they go home and teach it to their parents, so good health practices spread throughout the community.

You can help communities get vital health education by giving a gift to safe water this holiday season! And there’s no better time than now. Make a gift before December 31 and your gift will be doubled by the Living Water Fund, a matching fund created by an anonymous WaterStep donor. While all gifts made between now and December 31 will be matched, if you join the fun and give for #GivingTuesday on December 2, we’ll send you a virtual ‘I gave today!’ sticker to share with your friends and family on social media, helping to spread the message of giving even further.


From Kenya: Girls get water and opportunites at school

For girls living in the remote northwestern Kenyan town of Kakamega, life presents many challenges.
Here, girls are often denied opportunities for education, and forced into marriage at ages as early as twelve, all while living with the daily stress of surviving.
The Covenant of Peace Christian School provides support for girls like these, where students might walk up to six miles to attend classes. This school was built in 2010, a part of  a larger effort of  the nonprofit of the same name whose mission is to serve the poor of Kakamega. Just this past summer, dormitories were built to house the 26 orphans attending the all girl high school, which serves a total of 68 students between the ages of 13 and 20.
This past summer, the school also received a WaterBall from UofL medical student and volunteer Andria Myers. For these students, a WaterBall means a little less time collecting water and a little more time getting an education. The students tried it out, and made this video.

Double your gift for safe water this holiday season

You can sustain life-saving water projects like
the one at Covenant of Peace and encourage
a young person to go to school.

There's never been a better time than now:
Make a gift this 
holiday season before
December 31 and your gift will be 
by a private donor's matching fund.

 Give to safe water




Celebrating the Belle’s 100th Birthday

Belle of Louisville water demonstration

October 15th through the 17th WaterStep helped celebrate the Belle of Louisville’s Centennial Birthday by participating in the Centennial Festival of Riverboat’s, Adventures in Education Festival. The festival gave 2000 Louisville third through fifth graders the opportunity to explore various educational displays and demonstrations.

WaterStep staff, along with student volunteers from the University of Louisville, taught local students about the importance of safe water and demonstrated technologies to create and distribute it. The students learned about the M100 chlorinator and the played with the tippy-tap and WaterBall. Participating educators also saw examples of Quench, the new, free, downloadable curriculum being used in schools right now to spread awareness of the global water crisis.

Belle of Louisville water demonstration 2

Meet the Student Water Initiative

Student Water Initiative


Read the following interview with the three founding members of the Student Water Initiative – Will Modrall, Jed Kennedy, Elizabeth Carbone. This student group from the University of Louisville is competing in the upcoming Hack2O Water Hackathon, a design-build competition to create innovative water solutions for the developing world. The Student Water Initiative will be collaborating with a group from Costa Rica to develop a safe water solution that is relevant to a specific need in the Costa Rican community. Hack2O is November 8 at FirstBuild in Louisville, Kentucky. Are you a student, engineer, or other professional interested in making a difference through technology and engineering? Hack2O is the challenge for you.


 Learn more about Hack2O


What is the Student Water Initiative?

The Student Water Initiative (SWI) is a new group at the University of Louisville that is partnering with WaterStep to connect with communities abroad to develop community specific and sustainable solutions to safe water.  Our group is unique in that our approach to development solutions are community specific, culturally relevant and business minded.


Why is Student Water Initiative important? And why now?

There is no other group on campus that is specifically dedicated to water.  Recently the opportunity to work with Dr. Thad Druffel, our faculty mentor, an engineer and former Peace Corps volunteer, WaterStep and FirstBuild became available.  These three key components gives solid experience to draw upon, an avenue to connect with communities abroad and access to local engineers, which combined are resources that enable us to make progress towards our mission.


How will the Student Water Initiative make a difference?

Often development groups with the best intentions fail to make a difference because the solutions they offer are not relevant to the community they intend to help or the community lacks the skills or resources, namely money, to maintain the new technology.  We at the SWI intend to identify a community with a specific need and then address that need in a way that is relevant to the community’s culture and resources.  In order for our project to be sustainable we will engage support at the local level, offer simple solutions, and incorporate a business component that will ensure financial sustainability, because after all water isn’t free.


Who can join the Student Water Initiative?

Any university student with an interest can join the initiative.  SWI projects will have many facets including: social, cultural, business, and engineering aspects. Therefore, it is essential that we have a diverse group of students with a wide range of skills and perspectives working on our projects.


What are the upcoming events for the SWI?

SWI’s pilot project will be in Costa Rica, where we will connect with student engineers in Costa Rica to develop both a safe water technology and a business plan to deliver to a Costa Rican community.

Our next big event is the Hack20 competition where we will be competing as a student team.  Our partners from Costa Rica will be joining us at the event remotely and as a group we will begin to develop the technology and business solutions for Costa Rica.  Win or lose, we will continue to collaborate with our Costa Rican counterparts post-competition and aim to have a deliverable product to implement in Costa Rica, by the summer of 2015.

Long term goals include engaging more communities abroad for project opportunities and also including energy solutions in our water related projects.


 Learn more about Hack2O

Volunteer Spotlight: 13-year-old collects 600 pairs of shoes

by Lauren Hack

A quick post to celebrate one of our great volunteers. Thirteen-year-old Kylie from Florence, Kentucky, hosted a shoe drive last month and collected 642 pairs of shoes! Thanks to Kylie, these shoes will support safe water projects in communities around the world.

Florence Kentucky shoe drive for safe water


How do we turn shoes into water? Donating new and gently used shoes can provide water to someone that needs it. Shoes are sold to an exporter and the funds received support WaterStep’s mission to equip people with safe water solutions in developing countries.

This a win-win-win situation, and here’s why:

  • People get the safe water that they need. The shoe program helps to bring safe water to thousands of people every year. Providing safe water helps to eradicate the waterborne diseases that keep too many people from leading the full, productive lives they deserve. A person that was sick before can now spend time doing something else, like getting an education, learning a work skill, or taking care of her family.
  • Shoe businesses support local economies. Once the shoes leave WaterStep, our exporter sells the shoes to local vendors in some of the same countries where we do water projects, contributing to small business ventures that support the local economy.
  • Less waste goes to landfills. Shoes that might have been thrown away are re-purposed, keeping hundreds of tons of waste out of the landfill.

Thanks to volunteers like Kylie, one pair of shoes can provide affordable footwear, help to build the economy of a community, cut down on waste, and, in the end, help someone get safe drinking water.

Interested in donating your used shoes or hosting a shoe drive? See the Shoe Page for more information.

Meet Pat Mulroy

If you would like to hear Pat Mulroy speak in person, don’t miss IF Water 2014. The 3rd Annual IF Water Conference will be held on Tuesday, September 30th at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased through the Kentucky Center. Read about other IF Water speakers Fabien Cousteau and Rose George.

Pat MulroyPat Mulroy started out as an individual studying German Literature and ended up as the General Manager of Southern Nevada Water Authority. Pat describes her background as helpful, allowing her to look at the issue of water in a different way.

“Not from a legal perspective, tying to protect laws. Not from an engineering perspective, with the belief that you can build your way out of any problem. Not even from a scientific perspective, where the answer to everything lies in science. Yes many of the solutions are embedded in mosaic pieces that come from those various disciplines.”

But, Pat explains, we have made the solutions much too difficult. At the end of the day it’s about our attitude, and how we talk about water.

Pat Mulroy served as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) from 1993 until retiring in February 2014. She also served as the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District from 1989 until her retirement. Mulroy was a principal architect of the Authority, which allowed Southern Nevada to not only weather the stresses of growth, but also one of the worst droughts to befall the Colorado River.

Pat’s talk will draw from her experience in the Water Authority, as well as her bountiful community involvement.

Pat giving the opening statements at the United Nations International Water Forum in 2011:

If you would like to hear Pat speak in person, don’t miss IF Water 2014. The 3rd Annual IF Water Conference will be held on Tuesday, September 30th as part of the IdeaFestival® at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Purchase tickets.

A Day in Tiribi: Stories from the Field


by Katie Jaggers

The WaterStep team sat in Iglesia Celebracion on an early Friday morning in Tiribi, Costa Rica. The team arrived, prepared to set up the system that would provide up to 10,000 gallons of safe water a day

Pastor Miguel welcomed the group with a brief sermon and prayer. He informed them that Tiribi is located in the county ranked last out of all 81 counties in Costa Rica for development, meaning poverty, drugs and prostitution are common in the area.

The pastor began his ministry to be a church for the unchurched. “Churches are popular here, but these people are not welcome in most churches,” he said.


Pastor Miguel led the team down a nearby road to see more of the area that would be affected by a safe water system in the church. As they walked, the pastor was met by warm greetings from most neighbors and a big hug from a young girl.


Most homes were built from scrap materials and garbage lined the streets. However, what seemed like a hopeless image from the outside masked well-kept kitchens, straight and clean living areas, and a people who took pride in their homes and lives.

98 year old Claudia greeted the team outside of her home, which shares a wall with her sister and a young girl that they care for, who suffers from seizures. The team took turns gathering around to pray for the family and talk more with them.


Back at the church, the team got to work on their project that would carry over to the next day, installing the M-100 Chlorine Generator.

Pastor Miguel stepped away from the group while they began working to explain more about the culture and water issues in the area. “They have a local waterline, but the government cuts off water and they must use dirty river water and boil it to drink it,” he explained. “Many children and elderly still get sick with diarrhea, stomach ache, and viruses.”

The effects from the lack of water spill over into all areas of life. He explained that sickness often keeps children out of school, as a stomach virus can force a child to stay in bed for up to a week. The WaterStep system will allow children and families to get safe, drinkable water from the church, preventing illness.

On Day Two of the installation, the WaterStep team arrived bright and early, working all day to set up the system and teach the pastor about its maintenance. By evening, the mission was accomplished.

Access to safe water is only one issue that needs to be addressed in many of the communities where Waterstep works, but it is a critical foundation for improvement. To learn more about safe water solutions and how to get involved, check out our Why Water page.


Stories from the Field: Tanzania Medical Trip

by Erin Asher

WaterStep’s Director of Manufacturing Dr. Joe Jacobi, teamed up with WaterStep Medical Director Dr. Bill Smock and Foxes’ NGO to travel to Tanzania with 13 medical students from the University of Louisville to provide medical and dental services to the citizens of the Mufindi region of the country.

Tanzania 1

While there, Dr. Jacobi was able to offer health education and safe water options to address the root causes of medical issues.

Tanzania is currently the 13th poorest country in the world and the evidence of this claim was widespread as Dr. Jacobi and the rest of the team arrived in country. Igoda Children’s Village, the local host and home to Dr. Jacobi and the rest of the medical team, was about 90 miles from the nearest paved road and most citizens were sustenance farmers. Dr. Jacobi noted that there was “a lack of education of a wide variety of health issues” in Mufindi after conducting dental clinics from last month from July 12th to 20th.

tanzania joe 2Most citizens boil their water to ensure the removal of dangerous pathogens and bacteria—a time consuming method. Not only does boiling water take time, but also requires labor for the continual collection of firewood. Open fires are a common method for cooking in Tanzania, and Dr. Jacobi and the team saw the result of the dangers this method offers with a variety of burn victims serviced in the clinics.

A lack of health education coupled with working with open fires results in many burn victims being treated incorrectly or not treated at all. Dr. Jacobi told the story of one man who had almost been paralyzed by burns at both his knees due to incorrect treatment of the burns. Countless similar situations were seen just within the clinics, and Dr. Jacobi agreed that basic health and sanitation education would improve circumstances exponentially.

Local children play with the WaterBall donated to the village.

Local children play with the WaterBall donated to the village.

As it was time to pack up and leave, Dr. Jacobi and Dr. Smock along with the medical students felt that while they had serviced many individuals for the better, there is still much work within the country in medical services and with water. Dr. Jacobi left Mufindi with two chlorinators and two WaterBalls. The technology, paired with simple health and hygiene education will lead to healthier, longer lives.

tanzania joe

Meet Rose George

A trip to a public bathroom stall several years ago inspired journalist Rose George to think outside of the box.“I asked myself the question: Where does this stuff go?” George remembers. “With  this question, I found myself plunged into the world of sanitation, toilets and poop. And I have yet to emerge.”Rose George

As the author of The Big Necessity, Rose George brings a global perspective to sanitation practices and behaviors on a world-wide basis. Her book describes the cultural, bacteriological and psychological landscape of this rarely explored topic, citing examples from London to Johannesburg to Mumbai to Moscow.

Rose’s talk will draw from her experiences and observations, and will key the audience in on just how important toilet practices and sanitation are around the world.

If you would like to hear Rose speak in person, be sure to buy your tickets for IF Water 2014. The 3rd Annual IF Water Conference will be held on Tuesday, September 30th in conjunction with IdeaFestival® at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Read more.

Purchase tickets.

Check out Rose’s TED Talk from last year.

Community Shoe Drive in Peoria

When communities come together to collect shoes, they support water projects around the world. That is exactly what one Peoria community did.

Peoria Shoes

When accountant Denise Henderson from Peoria, IL saw the impact that her church made through a shoe drive, she decided she could multiply their efforts by starting even more shoe drives in the area. Henderson works for the Iona Group and alongside other motivated coworkers,  they contacted local businesses, churches, and organizations to host shoe drop-sites.

The Iona Group has been extremely successful, collecting 11,000 shoes in 2012, and over 15,000 in 2013. The Peoria community’s efforts will provide safe water to more people across the globe.

Starting August 1st, the Iona Group’s third shoe drive will begin with 45 drop-sites around the Peoria and Morton areas.

Iona Group Photo

“As a community, Peoria has done a fantastic job in collecting shoes, probably more so than any other community that we work with,” said Water Step Chief Operating Officer Greg Holt. “And we’re in several different states collecting shoes.”

The next shoe drive will kick off on August 1st. Check out more info in this article form Central Illinois Proud or this article from the Journal Star.

You can call Denise at 309-263-4662 to get involved.

Shipping to the Philippines

photo copy

Thanks to donors like you, our Second Phase in the Philippines is in action. Last week, we packaged and shipped even more chlorinators to the areas most affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

In January, our team responded by sending 60 chlorine generators and a team of three to train more than 150 individuals, representing 47 different nonprofits and organizations. However, the need is still great.

Our second phase of work in the Philippines will bring safe water to even more people. Stay tuned on our blog to hear more about these emergency water purification kits and the people they are impacting.

photo photo copy 2 photo (1)

How to Drill a Well

In some areas, drilling a well is the most effective way to bring water to a community. However, the task of drilling a well is not always simple and many must learn how to drill a well before the enter the field.

Our new instructional videos will take you step-by-step through the process of how to drill a well, using WaterStep’s drill, the EXP-50.

Check out our “How to Drill a Well” video series below, and then head over to our Store to learn more about the EXP-50 and how you can bring one on your next trip.

From Nicaragua: Eight days without water

Nicaragua well repair 1

by Lauren Hack

Some people wait years for water.

At WaterStep, in the field and in the office, we hear stories of people who wait years for a broken well to be fixed, who walk long distances to find water that might not even be safe to drink, who spend lifetimes with poor health.

This is not that kind of story.

This is a story of communication.

Nicaragua well repair 2

Nicaragua well repair 7

The town of Las Lajas is nestled in the foothills of the central highlands of Nicaragua, off the main highway that leads east from the capital to the city of Matagalpa. It is a dry landscape, dotted with small towns and large coffee facilities where workers rake and dry coffee that has been hauled down from the mountains.

Nicaragua well repair 3

Despite the arid climate, Las Lajas is a farming community. Fields of onions, tomatoes, and squash are irrigated by a nearby river.

In Nicaragua’s largest cities – Managua, León, Matagalpa – municipal water is pumped to houses and is typically regarded as safe to drink. Leave the cities, and the water infrastructure fades away. Here, in rural areas, the principal source of water is well water.

Nicaragua well repair 4Nicaragua well repair 4Nicaragua well repair 6

The week before our team arrived in Las Lajas, a town leader named David had called our local partner Puentes de Esperanza to report a well in disrepair. This set in motion a plan to send a team the next week.

The town had been without water for eight days. For those eight days, they had carried water from the nearby river, the same river that irrigated their fields, the same river where they washed their clothing.

Nicaragua well repair 9

Nicaragua well repair 8

Eight days might seem like a long time to wait to some, but this pales in comparison to what it could have been if the phone number of Puentes de Esperanza’s well repair leader had not found its way into David’s hands. The well repair service is unique in its area. Puentes de Esperanza started this service two years ago after being trained by WaterStep staff. Before, if a well stopped working, locals either tried to find a way to fix it themselves or it sat broken and unused. Having someone to call makes all the difference in the world.

Nicaragua well repair 10

While our team made the repairs, the town members sat along the periphery of the pump, taking turns helping. Kids, out of school for this special occasion, gathered in clumps and watched quietly.

It turns out the town’s hand pump suffered from a common problem – friction inside the well casing had rubbed two large gashes in the pump pipe, allowing water to leak back into the aquifer. In the end, our team replaced the full hand pump system. Everyone took a turn at the well, testing out the new hand pump before gathering around David for a final celebratory word.

Nicaragua well repair 11

“It is my hope that we can keep in touch and stay in communication for future projects. You’ve brought potable water here – that is the greatest thing of all.”

David spoke of the town’s good fortune to be in contact with Puentes de Esperanza. He ended his story as it had begun, with a request for communication.

In the story of Las Lajas, an open vein of communication between locals meant that the broken well was fixed quickly and efficiently. And that means that water will keep flowing in Las Lajas.

This blog was about WaterStep’s well repair program in Nicaragua in partnership with Water Ambassadors of Canada and Puentes de Esperanza. Interested in learning more about hand pump repair? Learn about hand pump repair training, or join a future water project in Nicaragua.

Meet the Interns


This summer, we welcome a new group of interns with backgrounds and interests ranging from international relations, to economic development, to environmental earth science. Join us in welcoming them and read below for more about what they will be doing with WaterStep.

Erin Asher Summer Intern WaterStep

Erin Asher

A rising senior at Western Kentucky University, Erin joins us with majors in International Business and Economics, and an interest in international economic development. Erin will be working with WaterStep to develop micro-business models for water and hand pump repair.

Fun Fact: Erin’s favorite drink is mango tea.


Niki DeShurko

Niki is a recent graduate of Miami University and is pursuing a career in hydrogeology and environmental protection. She is specifically interested in water filtration and ground water preservation, which she will be able to practice as she researches water filters and filtration during her internship with WaterStep.

Fun Fact: Niki loves to swing dance and has taken several classes.


Hayley Hilbert

With majors in International Affairs and Political science, Hayley joins WaterStep to work with development and fundraising. Hayley will assist the WaterStep staff in researching and implementing both development and fundraising plans before she returns to Western Kentucky University for her senior year.

Fun Fact: Hayley collects plants, and owns more than 13 succulents.


David Miller

David is a Civil Engineering major at Western Kentucky University and a rising senior. He will be working with WaterStep this summer to help oversee building renovations as a part of our project management team. David hopes to gain experience in project planning, and develop stronger organizational and leadership skills.

Fun Fact: David is an an Acapella group, called the Red Shirts at WKU.

Robin Pittman

Robin is a rising Junior at Western Kentucky University with a major in advertising. Robin is specifically interested in working with nonprofits for marketing, advertising, or event planning. This summer, Robin will assist in event planning. Robin has a great deal of experience in working with nonprofits and has led a WaterStep shoe drive fundraiser.

Fun Fact: Robin has tried every flavor of Dairy Queen blizzards.


Natalie Tate

Natalie joins us with an interest in international relations and nonprofit work. She will be a junior at Centre College in the fall. Natalie will be working with partnership development, as well as event planning.

Fun Fact: Natalie has been to 10 countries.


CQ Jam

Enjoy great live music and support global safe water projects at the same time!
August 9th at 4:00 pm

Don’t miss out on CQ Jam! It will be a fun night to enjoy live music and support global safe water projects. Learn more on our Event page. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $10 in advance if purchased at WaterStep’s office and Captain’s Quarters. For more information, call 502-558-1033.

Charlie McCoy high res

Artists include Charlie McCoy and Hoot Hester. Learn more about them:

About Charlie McCoy
Chet Atkins heard one of McCoy’s demo tapes and immediately hired McCoy in May, 1961. Monument Records soon heard about McCoy and hired him as harmonica player on Roy Orbison’s song “Candy Man”. It sold a million records. His album “Good Time Charlie” reached No. 1 in the Billboard country chart. In the 1970s, McCoy, as a studio musician, took part in more than 400 sessions a year. He has won 2 CMA Awards and 7 ACM Awards. For 19 years McCoy served as music director for the popular television show Hee Haw, and was a member of the Million Dollar Band. In 2009, Charlie was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell. He is regarded by his peers as one of the top Harmonic players in the world. McCoy will tour Europe this summer, prior to his appearance in Louisville August 9.

About Hoot Hester
Hoot Hester was born on a small farm just south of Louisville, Kentucky. He has played with the “Grand Ole Opry” staff band since 2000 and also worked with Earl Scruggs until he passed away in 2012. In addition to currently playing the “Grand Ole Opry”, Hoot is playing with his daughter Rachel Hester at “Roberts’ Western World.” He also does session recording for several artists and producers.

Meet Fabien Cousteau

Fabien 1

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques-Yvez Cousteau, recently embarked on a
journey to live underwater for 31 days- next, he’ll be sharing his experience and
knowledge with the 2014 IF Water audience. The overarching theme for Mission
31 is the human-ocean connection within the lens of exploration and discovery.
Three main topics will be highlighted throughout Mission 31: climate change and
the related challenges of ocean acidification; ocean pollution with an emphasis on
the effects of plastics; and overconsumption of resources with specific focus on the
decline of biodiversity.

Check out photos from Fabien’s project here.

Fabien Cousteau
Fabien is an oceanographic explorer, conservationist and documentary filmmaker. Fabien has spent his life fulfilling his family’s legacy of protecting and preserving the planet’s endangered marine inhabitants and habitats. Fabien’s work has followed the legacy of his grandfather, who was, among many other things, a filmmaker, scientist, author, and researcher who studied the sea and life in water. Fabien’s IF Water talk will draw from his vast experiences and engage listeners in discussion surrounding the world’s water.

If you would like to hear Fabien speak in person, don’t miss IF Water 2014. The 3rd Annual IF Water Conference will be held on Tuesday, September 30th in conjunction with IdeaFestival® at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Read more about it here.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Why Bees?

Curious why WaterStep is putting bee hives on our roof? It’s all about community partnerships that make Louisville a better place to live. We are excited to use our building as a platform for local organizations to come together. Our bee hives are just the start.

Check out some of the reasons we’ve decided to partner with Walter T. Kelley Beekeeping:

·         The Walter T. Kelley mission is to “Build Hives that Change Lives” as one of the oldest and largest suppliers of beekeeping equipment and honeybees in the United States ·         Beekeeping is vital to the health of our nation’s agricultural system and without more beekeepers, our food supply would be under significant risk of loss with 1 out of every 3 bites of food you are eating tonight due to the work of honeybees.  Even Einstein stated, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have 4 years of life left.”

·         WTK and Waterstep are trying to solve this Gordian Knot of Resources – how do we protect and how do we grow the most vital of all resources – water and food – under such incredible threats of contamination to transform lives throughout the world.

·         In a way, with WTK focused on food supply thru bees and Waterstep on water thru technology and training, we are both the caretakers of a higher creation and that stewardship imparts a profound reverence and obligation.

·         WTK is donating 5 hives as well as a portion of all proceeds of their Urban Hives.  By investing  in the community together, we will transform lives through education and service.

We are excited about the opportunity to serve our community and partner with an organization that is committed to bettering the environment and maintaining healthy food sources.


Water Challenge: Jennifer Simpson’s Story

Guest blogger Jennifer Simpson shares how she got involved with WaterStep and what motivates her to collect shoes. For more on shoe collection and how you can support safe water projects, go to our Why Shoes pages. 
Last summer my church, Southeast Christian, had a sermon series on getting out of your comfort zone. At the end of the series, we were challenged to commit to some kind of change for 6 months and were given several suggestions. One of the suggestions was to drink only water for 6 months while praying for those around the world who don’t have clean water, also asking God how He can use you to make a difference. I knew this would be stretch for me, especially giving up my morning cup of joe. So I took this water challenge from August 15th to February 15th. While it was a great experience and deepened my prayer life during that time, I wasn’t sure what kind of “action” I should take on this subject. In March, I had read about the mayor’s week of service in April, and saw that Waterstep needed groups and individuals to sponsor a shoe drive. Though this was an extremely busy time of year for me, the idea of doing a shoe drive wouldn’t leave my mind, so I decided to sign up to sponsor a shoe drive. I asked friends, family, and neighbors to donate shoes. My son helped me sort, count, and line them up on the driveway. The bonus was that I was able to talk to my ten year old about how shoes can help others around the world. This was the perfect way to close the chapter on my “water challenge” and I am excited to see how Waterstep is changing lives around the globe!

Jennifer Simpson JenSimpson_shoes

Thank You – Give Local Louisville!

Thank you for making Give Local Louisville such a success! We were blown away by your response – a total of $23,858 was raised, before matching funds. These funds will go towards the second phase of water projects in the Philippines, bringing safe water to thousands that still do not have it in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan that blew through the island nation last December.


Give Local Louisville


Even better, because of your support we won TWO of the cash prizes offered throughout the day: $1,000 for the Early Bird (the first donation of more than $500), and $2,000 for 2nd Place for Most Unique Donations.

We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you! You are saving lives with safe water.




Emma Rider: Quenching Soles

Join us and our team as we support Emma Rider to continue saving lives with safe water. If Emma wins the Jefferson Lead360 Award, she could travel to Thailand, Fiji, Tanzania, Peru, India, Costa Rica, or next year’s Super Bowl as a WaterStep Ambassador. Join us in furthering WaterStep’s mission of saving lives with safe water. Here is what you can do:

1. Commit to voting for Emma at least once a day until May 21st, here. It’s just one click! Set up a reminder on your phone or laptop and start voting today. And by the way, you can vote multiple times a day as log as your internet source changes. So vote throughout the day if you can.

2. Share the link on Twitter and Facebook, or copy and paste this post to an email and send it out to friends to encourage them to join in. Check the pages each day to learn more about Emma and share or retweet our posts.

3. Champion Emma’s cause at your work, school or organization by motivating them to vote every day.

Together, we can support Emma to save lives with safe water all around the world.

Read more about Emma’s story with WaterStep below.


emma rider

Teenager Emma Rider, from southern Delaware, has collected over 80,000 pounds of shoes to support WaterStep. Those 80,000 shoes have supported safe water projects all over the world, thanks to Emma’s dedication.

Emma first heard about WaterStep through her brothers who took mission trips with WaterStep. Emma soon heard about the trips and joined in. When Emma’s brother worked for WaterStep over the summer as an intern, he shared facts and statistics with her about the world’s water crisis.

“The statistics that got me were that a child a died every 10 seconds due to a water related disease. I love kids so I couldn’t hear that and ignore it,” she said.

She set her first goal to collect 4,000 pairs of shoes, which would pay for one purification system at the time, but she exceeded her goal, collecting 8,500 in just five months.

She quickly set her next goal of 22,000 shoes, and collected even more than her goal again. “I’ve stopped setting goals because they always exceed my expectation,” she said. Members of the WaterStep staff have even called her the “Shoe Princess,” because of how successful and hard-working she has been with her shoe drives.

To promote shoe drives, Emma speaks at different 4h groups, schools, organizations, and churches. “At first I would contact a church and try to get in the newspaper to gain some attention,” she said, “ But at this point, people contact me to ask me to speak.” When she speaks, Emma shares the story of the world’s water crisis and what WaterStep is doing to help.

In January 2013, Emma went to Kenya to help install three water purifiers and was able to experience her own work come full circle. Emma’s older brother, who was supposed to lead the training, became sick the final day of the trip when he was supposed to train locals how to use the chlorine generator.

The missionary that was with them looked to Emma and said, “You’ll have to train them.” Emma stepped up to the plate and trained 12 African men how to install a chlorine generator. “It was cool to see that they listened to and trusted me, this American teenage girl.”

Emma also is passionate about the WaterBall, and speaking about it when she can. At a WaterStep event, she met a woman from Uganda who told her about how she grew up hauling water everyday and she had to walk for miles, knowing that this water she was hauling would eventually make her family sick. “The fact that I met her and she had so many stories and she didn’t go to school because she hauled water for her family really motivated me,” Emma said.

Emma talks about the WaterBall because her audiences are often groups of women who can connect to the women in developing countries who must sacrifice hours each day for their families.

Emma has made a huge impact on WaterStep’s mission through shoe collection, leading a training in the field, supporting the WaterBall and so much more. Her story is a reminder that anyone at any age can make a difference in the world. For more info on collecting shoes, check out our Why Shoes page.

Volunteer Spotlight: Bob Holden


It is because of the passion and dedication of volunteers like Bob Holden that WaterStep is able to continue on our mission to save lives with safe water.

Not only has Bob collected thousands upon thousands of pounds of shoes, but he is also a community advocate sharing stories about the worlds water crisis with folks on a daily basis.

Thanks Bob! Keep up the good work, lives are being saved because of you!

Women Carrying Water: Taking the weight off, one WaterBall at a time

We say it a lot at WaterStep, but it’s true: Too many women and children in the developing world walk long distances every day to get water for their families.

Loice, in Kenya, was one of these women. A mother of 6, she walked to a river by her house to collect water in a plastic bottle that she carried on her head. Because of the tremendous support of our wonderful donors, WaterStep sent out the first of the new WaterBalls to our partners in Ethiopia and Kenya last month in conjunction with World Water Day.

Loice was one of the first to try it out and tell us what she thought. The video below is from her first trip to the river.

Give Local Louisville

Visit the Give Local Louisville page to learn more about how to give on May 6.

We are counting down to May 6th when Give Local Louisville will give Louisvillians an exciting opportunity to support local causes. Each donation given will be matched, giving your donation the opportunity to multiply.

Disaster relief efforts in the Philippines allowed WaterStep staff to train locals in water purification methods.

Disaster relief efforts in the Philippines allowed WaterStep staff to train locals in water purification methods.

At WaterStep, we are excited to see what this day will bring as our next project is to return to the Philippines. After Typhoon Haiyan left the Philippines in desolation last December, WaterStep responded by sending a team to train and equip locals in water purification so they could regain access to water. We were thrilled to see lives changed there and we continue to hear stories about how our simple training has helped so many.

At the same time, there are still many who need access to safe water. With the money we raise through Give Local Louisville, we will continue our work training and equipping locals with skills that will allow them to have access to safe water for a lifetime.

If you have never given before or are considering giving, May 6th is the day to do it! Not only will your donation be multiplied, but you will be bringing empowerment and safe water to the people of the Philippines. We are so grateful for your support and look forward to the impact we can make together through Give Local Louisville.

Continue to our Donation page.

World Water Day: How Water and Energy Save Lives

It seems simple, just a round container connected to pipe. But this simple design is changing the way many live their day-to-day lives.

World Water Day: Water and Energy with the WaterBall

A woman in Ethiopia uses WaterStep’s WaterBall to reach a water source more quickly and easily.

The WaterBall was designed by engineer Kyle Hunter after meeting and observing women and children in Latin America who were required to walk miles each day simply to reach a safe water source. The WaterBall allows people to transport water more quickly and with less physical strain. (Watch the video The WaterBall Rolls Out)

The typical trek to water sources consumes enormous amounts of time for millions of people in the developing world. An average woman in sub-Saharan Africa will walk an hour to a water source, and make multiple trips per day, often through unsafe areas.

water and energy: world water day: waterstep's waterball

Women can walk up to an hour each day to reach a water source, often making multiple trips.

So how does this connect to this year’s World Water Day theme: Water and Energy?

Well, energy does not necessarily need to be defined by technology. In fact, at WaterStep we can measure energy saved through human expenses: time, effort, even safety. When women are freed from the daily burden of access to water, that gives them more energy to pursue an education, focus on their families, or invest time in a skill or trade that could help support them.

That possibility is why this simple tool is able to transform lives globally. Water and energy connect when less energy needs to be expended to reach a safe water source.

That is what we’re all about at WaterStep: Joining you to save lives with safe water.

This World Water Day, let us know your thoughts on water and energy. How do you think saved human energy can change the world? Comment below or tweet @WaterStep with your thoughts.

The WaterBall Rolls Out for World Water Day

In celebration of World Water Day today, we are rolling out the new WaterBall to our partners in Ethiopia and Kenya!

Every day, a woman in the developing world might walk 5 or more miles to find a water source for her family. Carrying up to 40 pounds of water for several hours a day can cause permanent skeletal damage and prevents her from taking care of her family, getting an education, and improving her quality of life.

For this problem, the WaterBall is one solution. This simple tool for water transportation eases the weight of carrying water, a burden that traditionally falls on women.

To learn more about the WaterBall, read our blog series about the need for the WaterBall, the engineering behind the design, and its creator.

Happy World Water Day!

Nonprofit Challenges & the Role of Millennials

Victoria Shover, WaterStep Ambassador reporting in!

The moment I learned of my acceptance into the Fulbright Program as an English Teaching Assistant in Spain, I immediately began to wonder about the people I would meet during this academic year. The incredibly impressive group of Fulbrights that I have come to know, respect and admire surpassed any and all expectations.

Fulbright Scholar on nonprofit challenges

As the Fulbright Mid Year Conference in Valencia approached, (which is the final of only two times the entire Fulbright Commission of Spain comes together) I knew that this would be a great opportunity to share WaterStep with individuals who were intelligent, well traveled, inquisitive and passionate about what they do. I planned a presentation (shout out to WaterStep Millennials and Fulbright Yanique Campbell for your editing suggestions!) about how to logically layout collaborative efforts to unite WaterStep’s cause with Fulbright Millennials an address typical nonprofit challenges.

“I believe that NGOs and millennials have great potential to promote each other.”

Check out Victoria’s speech to learn how she sees millennials addressing current nonprofit challenges and looking towards the future.

To generate collaborative ideas and continue our conversations, the Fulbright Commission kindly supported my efforts by emailing a three question survey to all Fulbrights (TAs, graduate researchers and senior scholars). The survey is to collect information about levels of interest for those wishing to collaborate and suggestions to whom WaterStep could reach out to. You can view the survey here.

As the responses continue to roll in, I continue to be impressed by this group of Fulbrights. By loving what they do and taking water with them, they will be able to join the fight against the world water crisis and seek solutions to nonprofit challenges.

“We are perfectly equipped to take on the role of improving the nonprofit sector. Perhaps we could even find ourselves living in a more just and less thirsty world.”

I’m thankful to WaterStep for encouraging me to become a WaterStep Ambassador on behalf of the 875 million people currently lacking access to safe water. I’m equally thankful to the Fulbright Commission of Spain for accepting me into this program, providing me the opportunity to share my passion for water with my peers and for continuing to generate the space and environment for collective think tanks and relationship building gatherings. My hope is that from this experience, two incredible organizations can continue to learn and support one another to save lives with safe water, bringing us closer to a wold imagined by Senator J. William Fulbright.

Partners in the Phillippines install water purifiers


Water drinking station at dental clinic 6A lot has been done, but there is still work to do in the Philippines. Read about our work to come in the Philippines and how you can be a part of it.

Last Friday marked 100 days since the Philippines was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. While the island nation is still in the midst of a long recovery, signs of healing are beginning to show.

In December, a team of three from WaterStep traveled to Cebu City, Philippines to set up a water training center in the aftermath of the typhoon that devastated much of the country. At the training center, 150 people from 47 organizations were trained, and thanks to the generous contributions of our donors, every organization went home with a free water purifier to install in a community.

Since the WaterStep team left, our partner organizations have been installing water purifiers and sending in photos and videos. See the faces of some of the people who are making a difference in their own communities thanks to access to safe water.

The installation below is from Loon, Bohol. Loon was among the hardest hit towns in the earthquake that hit the Philippines in October 2013, three weeks before Super Typhoon Haiyan sent many of the earthquake refugees back to evacuation centers just as they were beginning to recover.

After the typhoon, the patients at Bantayan District Hospital on Bantayan Island, pictured below, did not have any safe water source. A full mobile water system with bladder tanks, which was donated in memory of Kentuckian Glenn Smith, was installed by hospital staff.

Across Bantayan Island from the hospital, the group Bantayan Aid installed another water purifier in the community of Pata.

And then there is this water purifier at Pasil Elementary school in Cebu, Philipppines, which was installed by engineering and dental students from University of Louisville last December (watch the video from the installation). Photos below are from Shoji Castillo, who set up drinking water stations that serviced the 1600 people that came to a dental clinic at the elementary school last week. The mobile M-100 chlorine generator water purifier is moved from drinking stations all around the school.

The video below comes from Leyte Island, where Ping-Ping Molon traveled after being trained at WaterStep’s training center in Cebu City. In the video Ping-Ping says of her home, “Even prior to the typhoon, our place did not have access to a clean, safe water source.”


Elsewhere on Leyte Island, the Springs Foundation installed this water purifier.

Visit the WaterStep Philippines Facebook page for more photos and videos.

A lot has been done, but there is still work to do in the Philippines. Read about our work to come in the Philippines and how you can be a part of it.

Philippines donation button

Illinois group collects shoes for safe water

WaterStep’s mission is supported through shoe collection by groups like the Iona Group from Morton, Illinois, who sent us this great video from their shoe drive.

People from around the country collect shoes from their community and donate them to us. Shoes are sold to an exporter and funds received help bring safe water to those in need. We accept all types of shoes from high heels to high tops. In addition to funding water projects, donated shoes keep hundreds of tons of waste out of our landfills.

Illinois group collects shoes for safe water 2

Denise from the Iona Group wrote to us and said this:

“It has been an amazing year and I’m sure our stories are similar to many others.  This accomplishment was truly a community effort as overwhelming generosity and extreme creativity was displayed throughout the drive.   The shoes were donated in grocery sacks, shoe boxes, large boxes, garbage bags, laundry baskets, car and truck loads, and in carts.  Other people inspired us with their ingenuity in collecting and getting shoes to us. 

Our number of drop off locations more than doubled this year which directly impacted the success of this project as it allowed the community to drop off their shoe donations at a convenient location.  The donations started out much faster this year.  We were processing anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 pairs of shoes per week initially and in our final week, processed over 4,500 pairs of shoes.  In just two years, this local drive has kept over 22,000 pairs of shoes from entering the local landfills.  This has been a tremendous group effort to help others we will never meet . . . and for that, we are truly thankful.”

Illinois group collects shoes for safe water

Interested in donating your used shoes to WaterStep or hosting a shoe drive? Visit Why Shoes? to learn how you can be a part.

Meet the Millennials

WaterStep couldn’t be more excited about the next generation of our leaders. These Millennials have discovered their passions and have found creative ways to imbed their knowledge of safe water into their everyday lives. Check out thier stories!

Nathan Rider

My name is Nathan Rider.  I am the Regional Logistics Coordinator for the Philippines.  My interest in water originates in my interest in food. It just makes sense to empower communities with safe water before teaching better farming methods.  If water comes first, when they have great access to good food, community members wont starve from diarrhea caused by unsafe water.  Currently at WaterStep I am mapping and tracking the sustainability of WaterStep’s Post-Yolanda Disaster Relief work in the Philippines.  My communication skills, attention to detail, and interest in sustainability have proven to be essential for this task.  Eventually, in finding communities successfully empowered with safe water, I not only see a healthier community, but I envision a perfect foundation for economic and agricultural empowerment as well.


CoraLyn J. Turentine here: I serve WaterStep as the Director for WaterStep Indy, Ambassador to Haiti, and Health and Hygiene Instructor. It’s not that I care about water, but that I care about the people consuming the water. I’ve been fortunate enough to live a life filled with hope, founded in the ongoing exchange of love, and fueled by empowerment. My deepest desire is for others to have this experience, also. Working with safe water provides one strategy that is relevant in every context. The entire world needs safe water. The entire world also needs hope, love, and empowerment. Thus, I use the tool of safe water to share hope, exchange love, and ignite empowerment. Millennials are said to be very big on transparency when interacting with others. I try to remain honest and transparent when connecting others with WaterStep. When people encounter WaterStep, they should have an experience that is meaningful for them, and it shouldn’t be fabricated. I allow myself to be vulnerable in sharing my experience with WaterStep and our work in hopes that as people recognize our humanity, they will connect with it, relate to it, and be willing to reveal their humanity as well.

WaterStep Ali Awards

Sean M. Vandevander is a volunteer, and associate with WaterStep, who through his consulting firm helps to oversee special initiatives for the organization.  Vandevander is also an entrepreneur, and sees the value in building sustainable models of social venture for WaterStep to use in combating water issues globally.  Some of these initiatives include the WaterBall, distance learning programs, and the marketing of disaster relief systems to Emergency Management Agencies domestically.  Vandevander is also working to develop a sustainability themed incubator which will work very closely with WaterStep on multiple levels of social venture, and entrepreneurship.
Vandevander has always been aware of the burdens that are directly associated with water, and the greater needs for sanitation and access to safe resources.  Water is often tainted in parts of Appalachia that are directly polluted by the coal industry, and its vendors, as we recently saw in West Virginia with the chemical spill.  Being raised in Kentucky where coal provides 90% of the energy consumed sheds a light on the need for safe water.  3% of Kentucky currently does not have access to safe water, though Louisville is known as the water capitol of the world because of its reputable water utilities and the footprint of WaterStep in the community.
Vandevander specializes in business development and government relations.  He uses his relationships and networks to raise awareness for WaterStep and its mission, as well as drives special initiatives that open up new resources and opportunities for WaterStep.  Vandevander believes the millennial generation both sees and values the need for collaboration and cooperation in advancing both business and social venture.  He works to bring this to fruition in the creation of progressive and beneficial partnerships that best position WaterStep, and other interests for future success.


My name is Josh Hardesty, and as a WaterStep Millennial, I represent a generation of young adults who are truly invested in making a difference in our world, particularly as it relates to the global water crisis. My specific title with WaterStep is an International Ambassador, which means that I focus on how WaterStep interacts with other individuals and groups across the globe to widen our influence and deepen our impact so that we can make meaningful progress towards a world without unsafe drinking water. With the use of social media and various other forms of technology, I am able to connect with individuals all over the world to form common bonds that allow WaterStep to make a lasting difference in communities where unsafe drinking water is not accessible. Currently, I serve as one of two WaterStep Ambassadors in Europe, working to form relationships  across Europe and West Africa that Waterstep can partner with to fight the global water crisis as a united front. As a Waterstep Millennial it is my duty to use the tools at hand to ensure that my generation is aware of the crises that our world face and that we do all way can to stop them.

Morgan Floyd

My name is Morgan Floyd and I am a WaterStep Ambassador to India. Currently I live in Kolkata and this whole year I will be attempting to address the problem of unclean water in the public schools of Udaipur. I am passionate about safe water because I know what difference it makes in children’s lives. Clean water for these students will result in fewer diseases, better overall health, and better brain development. Most of my life has been devoted to children, both at home and abroad. I believe all children have the right to health: to run and play and learn and become the successful and happy adults they dream of being. This should not be dependent on the circumstances of their birth. The greatest assets that I have to contribute to the Millennial Team are flexibility and networking. Aid across culture, customs, and language barriers sometimes can be very difficult and frustrating. Flexibility has allowed me to overcome most of the obstacles I have faced while my networking skills connected me to individuals who have helped change happen. Both of these assets have allowed me to take on projects bigger than I thought possible.


My name is Katie Jaggers and I am Social Media Coordinator for WaterStep. Water is important to me because I believe access to safe water is a basic human right that should not be denied because of where and when someone was born. I believe that in my lifetime, the world water crisis can be solved. As Social Media Coordinator, I am able to connect with people through different digital networks and empower others to take steps that make a difference. Along with the team of WaterStep Millennials who work to reach out through social media, I can give a voice to global issues and represent my generation’s desire to end the water crisis. Universal communication and advocacy are essential to advancing WaterStep’s mission.

Tori Shover

My name is Victoria Shover and I am an Ambassador for WaterStep. I care about improving the world water crisis because I am concerned about the amount of human potential being lost to unsafe water. As a part of the Millennial Team, I utilize social media to raise awareness about the water crisis, make connects for potential partnerships in community development and learn about how others are engaging in social entrepreneurialship. While living abroad in Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, I am working to increase my knowledge of globalization and how societal trends will dictate equitable access to education. I believe safe water saves lives and a healthy child will be a more successful student, more equipped to contribute to society, and ideally, able to empower others



Broken Hand Pumps Hinder Access to Water in Developing World

In much of the developing world, hand pumps are not scarce. Hand pumps can be found every few miles in some areas. These hand pumps were designed to reach down a well and carry fresh water up to the person with strength to pump the water up. When functioning correctly, hand pumps are a valuable safe water tool.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

However, in some areas it is estimated that 70% of these hand pumps are broken, according to WaterStep Hand Pump Repair Volunteer Rick Jenner. Because of this, many people must walk miles every day, often passing previously functioning hand pumps to reach safe water sources. Access to water is already an issue to many of these people, and a broken hand pump only adds to the daily burden of reaching a water source.

WaterStep developed a hand pump repair program after spending time in these areas and recognizing the need for skills to repair these pumps. Jenner was among those who worked to develop the training program. “I thought instead of building new pumps, why not just repair the old ones at a cheaper cost?” he said.

Not only is the solution more practical, but it is vastly more cost efficient. While drilling a new well for a hand pump can cost $17,000, repairing a broken hand pump can cost as little as $20. With the skills, knowledge and tools required, any ordinary person can improve access to water for an entire community.

Hundreds have been trained at WaterStep’s indoor training facility, one of only two in the world. Those skills are then carried to locals in areas of need. Hand pump repair training provides essential skills and knowledge that can propel sustainable change and improved drinking water for decades. With individuals trained in hand pump repair, access to water becomes mush more reliable.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Steve Sikkema recently led a team in Nicaragua to repair broken hand pumps with our partner Water Ambassadors Canada. Sikkema leas training at the WaterStep headquarters, as well. He said, “Training is as realistic and hands-on as we can make it.”

WaterStep is taking this month to tell our stories of hand pump repair. With this simple, effective solution to safe water in the developing world, more people are taking ownership of their own access to safe water.

Stay tuned this month to learn more about the technology of hand pump repair, the stories, photos, and videos that inspire us, and how you can get involved. Follow @WaterStep on Twitter and @waterstepintl on Instagram to keep an eye on #handpumprepair, and be sure to follow us on Pinterest and ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Check out our Hand Pump Repair Page for more!

Vine Street Baptist Supports through Shoes

WaterStep’s mission is supported through shoe collection. People from around the country collect shoes from their community and donate them to us. Shoes are sold to an exporter and funds received help bring safe water to those in need. We accept all types of shoes from high heels to high tops. In addition to funding water projects, donated shoes keep hundreds of tons of waste out of our landfills.

Pictured are members of Vine Street Baptist Church, who collected shoes and toured the WaterStep office. These people, along with Vine Street Baptist Church and Highland Court Apartments, have collected over a thousand pounds of shoes over the years.

Support from shoe collections allow us to save more lives with safe water, and we are grateful to the many supporters of our shoe program. Check out our Why Shoes page to learn more about the process and how you can help out today!

Shoe donations support access to safe water in developing countries

Shoe donations support access to safe water in developing countries

Wesley Reece of WaterStep gives a tour to members of Vine Street Baptist Church

West Virginia Water Shortage

Philippines run for water

People in the Philippines run to safe water after the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan.


West Virginia Water Response

People in West Virginia have easy access to safe water after a chemical spill cuts of water supply.

As an international organization, we at WaterStep are accustomed to disaster relief work on an international level. We have responded to disasters in Costa Rica, Haiti, Pakistan, India, and most recently the Philippines. Our recent work in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan led us to an inspired group of people who were desperate for a way to take their access to water into their own hands. Check out our Facebook page to see individual albums of people who installed and are maintaining their own water purification system through our training.

As you may have heard, the government declared a state of emergency in Charleston, West Virginia, after a Freedom Industries tank spilled a toxic chemical that is used to process coal, contaminating the municipal water supply. The spill left an estimated 300,000 people without safe water to drink.

Friday morning, we were contacted by the National Rural Water Association asking if we could respond in any way. We planned to respond by setting up a water distribution center capable of providing safe water for up to 10,000 people, and contacted West Virginia Rural Water Association (WVRWA) to coordinate. Immediately, we began assembling a team and the necessary supplies in order to arrive in Charleston, West Virginia the next day.

Shortly after, WVRWA contacted us to let us know that because a state of emergency had been declared, water bottles would be supplied instead of alternative solutions and our technology would not be needed. We decided to send a team to observe the disaster relief efforts, anyway. Upon arrival, we realized that bottled water was being distributed to those in need around the affected areas, and those areas felt much less like disaster relief zones than our previous work. As you can see in our photos, water bottles were being delivered in masses and no one seemed to be concerned about their access to water.

In the United States, our citizens are well taken care of by a government that is prepared for disaster relief and our water bottle industry. This minimizes panic in the face of disasters compared to the reactions of people in other countries. While reports Monday morning were expecting a return to normal water supply soon, the water has not yet been approved as safe to drink. The West Virginia Gazette reported that Federal Emergency Management Agency would supply an estimated 3 million liters of water over the course of the week.

In the midst of this lack of water, we were compelled to ask the question: Are water bottles truly the best option? With millions distributed in just days, the negative environmental impact was evident. Additionally, we wondered what the next step would be if and when the water bottles ran out. Our friend Charles Fishman writes in The Big Thirst, “In a crisis, even in a pinch, bottled water will not save us.”

Below, our chart puts our water solution into perspective. We compare one 747 jet plane, sent to the Philippines disaster zone loaded with 325,000 water bottles, with WaterStep’s Water Disaster Kit.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 10.49.42 AM

The same comparison is viable with disaster relief work here in America. Bottled water is simply not as efficient.

As the discussion continues over disaster relief, WaterStep continues to look for sustainable, environmentally-friendly solutions to water access both in developing countries and here in our own backyard.

What are your thoughts? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to join the conversation.

More News on West Virginia Chemical Spill:

NBC News

New York Times


Associated Press

From Kenya: It takes a village to repair a hand pump

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Guest blogger Jessie Halladay talks about her experience in Kenya, where a team of Louisville Metro police officers went to repair hand pumps last December. You can also read about Jessie’s experience getting trained in hand pump repair at WaterStep. Read about our current campaign to continue work in Kenya.

Interested to learn more about hand pump repair? Visit our hand pump repair training page.

When we arrived in Kenya, our team of 10 people all felt a little anxious to get out and see if we could make repairs to pumps as we’d been trained to back in our Louisville training classes. We knew taking what we’d learned on the platform at WaterStep’s Louisville headquarters wasn’t going to be quite the same once we got into the field.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

We decided to head out to the first pump that had been identified for us as a group. I’m not sure any of us expected that the logistics of just getting to the pumps would be as challenging as they were, traveling in small vans over rough, unpaved roads filled with deep ditches. But our arrival at the first pump was met with enthusiasm as neighbors and children gathered to see what the “white people,” or mzungus, were up to.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

We quickly had that Afridev apart and a new seal put on, making it possible to get water flowing through the pump again.

But not everything was that easy. In fact, one team had to make a return trip to that first Afridev when it stopped working again while we were there.

During the six days our group was in Cherangany fixing hand pumps, the two teams were met with several challenges. There was a well filling with silt. One well looked similar to a Mark 2 we’d trained on, but had a thicker sucker rod and thinner pipes, rendering many of our tools useless. One pump had a base plate that was broken in four pieces. Others had been “improvised” over the years, using parts not normally used for the pumps.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

These challenges, however, just pushed our teams to get creative and think outside of the box to come up with ways to fix them. We brought a welder to the open field of the pump with the broken base plate to get it repaired. We visited auto parts stores in search of bearings to replace old ones that had been retrofit for the wrong parts. Workers climbed trees to use as braces for long PVC pipe to be pulled out of the ground for repair.

Not all the pumps we visited could be repaired.

But when we found pumps that we could work on, we dedicated ourselves to the job. In a few cases, a team spent an entire day or made return trips to get the job done.

In each case, the repairs were met with joy and smiles from the people who now will use those pumps. The many thanks we received – hugs, handshakes and smiles – were the best possible reward for our work.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

On our final day, the teams came together – along with our host and member of Kenyan Parliament Wesley Korir – at the Yuya Primary School.

One team had been to Yuya earlier in the week, pulling out the pipes of the Mark 2, which looked almost nothing like what we had trained on in Louisville. It was discovered that the pump needed a new cylinder since one of the stoppers was damaged, causing the water to leak out and making it impossible for water to reach the top of the pump. After replacing the cylinder, a piece that we had welded to fix a problem at the top kept breaking. Two attempts to weld the piece failed.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

We were left with a choice – try the weld again or replace what was there. Thanks to our generous donors back home — David Jones, Jr., Mary Gwen Wheeler and Tom Conway – we were able to buy all new pipes and a new pump head to rebuild the YuYa pump and make it fully functional.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

Hand pump repair in Kenya

It was a great way to end our trip, coming together as an entire team, watching the Kenyans we had worked with and trained in pump repair take the lead, and seeing the school personnel and children watch the water flow from the pump. Without that pump working, the 800 students of the school had been required to carry water from home. Often that water was dirty and not safe. Now the children and neighboring community will have access to better water that is easier to obtain.

While we spent more money to replace that entire pump, often the solutions to these repairs are pretty simple and relatively inexpensive. By teaching the people we were with and bringing tools to the community, local people will also have the ability to make their own repairs.

It was incredibly satisfying for our teams to see the results of their work. And to know that it will make a big difference in the lives of the people we met while in Kenya.

Interested to learn more about hand pump repair? Visit our hand pump repair training page.

Hand pump repair in Kenya

How You Can Keep Up With Our Work in the Philippines

Our work in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan did not end when our team returned. We have been excited to hear back from locals in the Philippines who have been trained and continue to provide safe water to more people. With 61 WaterStep Chlorine Generators in the field, we hope you are anxious to hear our follow-up and continue to see success stories unfold from those whose lives are being impacted. Here are some ways to continue to stay updated.

Water Training 5

First, you can be sure to check out the WaterStep Philippines Facebook page, which is dedicated to displaying stories of work we are doing in the Philippines. For each chlorinator we sent, we have asked the recipients to upload an album showing their installation and labeled by the location it is being installed. With several albums already posted and more on the way, this is a great way to stay updated on how the chlorine generator is saving lives. Check out the albums.

Additionally, we have mapped the locations where installations have occurred. Check out the map to see the reach we have had in the Philippines. As more chlorine generators are installed, our map will expand to represent each one, and we will add stories and photos as we receive them.

Continue to follow our blog and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  We care about sharing our stories with you. Together, we are saving lives with safe water.

Our work in the Philippines is not over. With your support, we can send more chlorine generators into the disaster stricken areas and help the thousands who are still without safe drinking water. To learn more and donate, go to our Philippines Projects Page.

Typhoon in Philippines Disaster Relief Work – Wrap Up

As we wrap up our time in the Philippines, we are grateful for the people who have helped along the way. While in the Philippines, we trained 155 individuals representing 47 different organizations, including faith-based organizations, sustainable water advocates, and members of the military and medical organizations. Check out our video to see a recap of our time working with the victims of the Typhoon Haiyan.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and keep up with the blog to see how you can continue to help in the Philippines. Check out the Courier Journal’s wrap up story, here. 

Students add safe water to their dental work in the Philippines

A team of students from University of Louisville installed WaterStep’s M-100 water purifier at Paril School in the Philippines, where they traveled this past week to set up a dental clinic. In this area, juice and soda is cheaper than water, and safe water was key to the UofL students’ dental work. This installation was part of a wider initiative to bring disaster relief to the Philippines in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Video and photos by Kylene White.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

For donations made in Canada, visit our partners Water Ambassadors Canada online to receive a Canadian tax receipt.

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Training the trainer: bringing safe water, disaster relief to Tacloban City

Shoji Castillo, 24, of the Rotary Club of Cebu, installs a donated water purifier in Tacloban City, one of the areas hardest hit in the Philippines by last month’s typhoon.Shoji attended the first day of WaterStep’s training in Cebu City. Video by Kylene White.

WaterStep’s Kylene White and Chris Kenning followed Shoji Castillo to Tacloban City where Shoji installed a water purifier in the Palo Cathedral, a church that serves as a center for much needed aid and disaster relief in Tacloban City. The cathedral had no access to clean water and was relying solely on bottled water from aid. See more photos from the training at Palo Cathedral and around Tacloban City.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

For donations made in Canada, visit our partners Water Ambassadors Canada online to receive a Canadian tax receipt.

Philippines donation button

Water purifiers installed in disaster-stricken Philippines, bringing hope to typhoon victims

Tacloban Destruction 55
“We need foods: rice and water.” WaterStep team’s Kylene White and Chris Kenning followed water training attendees to Tacloban City, one of the areas hardest hit by last month’s typhoon. Photos by Kylene White

View the full photo gallery.

The WaterStep team wrapped up their last day of training today, training a total of 151 individuals representing 43 disaster relief organizations. It’s been a moving experience for everyone involved, trainers and trainees alike. Here is some feedback from the training attendees:

“The people in Hilantagaan island do not have access to clean drinking water and they have to cross to the bigger, neighboring Bantayan Island by pumpboat to get their supply of clean drinking water. During the rainy season, the people of Hilantagaan gather as much rain water as possible since this is also used as drinking water. Thank you very much for coming to Cebu and bringing this wonderful invention to help provide clean and safe drinking water to our communities and in effect, help alleviate the living conditions of our fellow Filipinos in the islands. “

-Pinky Gonzales, Last Days Harvest Mission Fellowship


“This mean a lot to us in Surigao because our location is very prone to typhoons and water is life.The number of lives we can serve and save through your generosity knows no limit.”

-Maribel Ortega, Monasterio de San Benito


“What is even more gratifying is the strong commitment and unselfish dedication you and your people have shown in the service which was done here in the philippines, especially in Cebu. On a technical note, I noticed how simple and sturdy the equipment and operation are.”

-Roberto Ybanez, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water Foundation


“Our gratefulness is beyond measure. I have been praying for all sorts of miracles in these times of grave crisis but I never dreamed it would be WaterStep and its amazing chlorinating machine that is MORE than just a temporary answer to our water crisis at Bantayan island.”

-Kai Despi, Bantayanon District Hospital

Kylene White and Chris Kenning followed Shoji Castillo, 24, of the Rotary Club of Cebu, to Tacloban City, one of the areas hardest hit by last month’s typhoon. Shoji attended the first day of water training. In Tacloban City, Shoji installed a water purifier in the Palo Cathedral, a church that serves as a center for much needed aid and relief in Tacloban City. The cathedral had no access to clean water and was relying solely on bottled water from aid. Photos are from the training in Palo Cathedral and around Tacloban City.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

For donations made in Canada, visit our partners Water Ambassadors Canada online to receive a Canadian tax receipt.

Philippines donation button

Disaster relief organizations in the Philippines start water training

WaterStep team and training attendees talk about the first day of training at WaterStep’s training center in the Philippines that was set up earlier this week. Video by Kylene White

Make a donation to WaterStep’s disaster relief work in the Philippines on our Philippines page.


After two days of training, the WaterStep team in the Philippines has trained 98 individuals representing 22 organizations that are doing disaster relief work in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Each of these organizations receive a donated M-100 Chlorine Generator, which they will in turn install in a community where they are working and train the locals in its operation and maintenance. This train-the-trainer model, at the heart of WaterStep’s mission, will result in a ripple effect with enormous impact, more than could be possible with just a WaterStep team doing the installations themselves.

A lot has already been accomplished, but there is still work to be done. We are still taking donations of all sizes to contribute to this disaster work in the Philippines, so if you are reading this, please consider a donation, share this blog with a friend, and tell someone the story.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page. Read WaterStep team member Chris Kenning’s article in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

Philippines donation button

Training to bring safe water, disaster relief to typhoon victims in the Philippines

Guest blogger Kylene White shares photos from the field in the Philippines, where WaterStep is setting up a training center to train disaster relief nonprofits in the installation, operation, and maintenance of WaterStep’s M-100 Chlorine Generator.

Photos are from northern Cebu, an area hit hard by the typhoon, and in Cebu City, from the first day of water training.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

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Arriving in the Philippines, paving the way for disaster relief

WaterStep CEO Mark Hogg from Cebu City, Philippines, where WaterStep is setting up a training center to train disaster relief nonprofits in the installation, operation, and maintenance of WaterStep’s M-100 Chlorine Generator. Video by Kylene White.

A team of five, including Mark Hogg, WaterStep Director of Field Operation Kurtis Daniels, engineer Juan Emmanuel Afable, Courier Journal reporter Chris Kenning, and photojournalist Kylene White arrived earlier this week.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, thousands are without access to safe water and are in serious danger of waterborne disease. The M-100 Chlorine Generator is a water purifier that is capable of purifying over 10,000 gallons per day and providing safe water to over 1,000 people daily. It only requires table salt and a car battery to operate.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

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UofL students carry water purifiers to the Philippines to help with disaster relief

University of Louisville WaterStep


A group of University of Louisville students left early this morning, carrying 60 water purifiers in their luggage destined for Cebu City, Philippines. Read more about the efforts these amazing students are contributing to and what they’re doing to save lives with safe water in the article posted by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.

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Packing for the Philippines

WaterStep staff and volunteers talk about packing to send 60 water purifiers to Cebu City, Philippines. There WaterStep is setting up a training center to teach the installation, operation, and maintenance of the M-100 Chlorine Generator, a water purifier that can produce up to 10,000 gallons of safe water daily, providing safe water to up to 1000 people, using only a handful of salt and a car battery.

To learn more about what WaterStep is doing in the Philippines, including all media updates, visit our Philippines page.

For the latest news, check back here on the WaterStep blog, which will be updated regularly while our team is on the ground. Follow WaterStep on Twitter @WaterStep, using the hashtag #WSHaiyan. Follow Courier-Journal reporter and WaterStep team member Chris Kenning @ckenning_cj for updates from the field.


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Hand Pump Repair in Kenya



Want to learn how to repair hand pumps and provide safe water to communities that need it? Learn more about well repair training that teaches students to repair and troubleshoot the most common hand pumps in the world.


Hand pump repair is vital to the mission of WaterStep. With a functioning hand pump, a community can quickly and easily access water sources. Hand pumps are easily broken in developing countries and can be left for years without being fixed because people simply do not know how to fix them. WaterStep provides a better option. Through our hand pump repair training program, people learn to easily repair broken hand pumps and provide access to water sources that is desperately needed by many communities.


Last Friday, a team of six Louisville Metro Police officers left for Kenya to repair broken hand pumps, a mission that will provide a water source to many people who may have walked miles daily to reach safe water. The team of police officers has been preparing for months now. Their training in August prepared them for any obstacles they may encounter on their eight day trip.


Kenya parliament member Wesley Korir and WaterStep Medical Director Dr. Bill Smock are leading the trip as part of a multi-year safe water initiative in Korir’s hometown in the region north of Nairobi. “The one thing that has defeated people is water,” Korir explained. Without access to safe water, people become trapped in sickness and poverty.


The lasting effect of training will provide Kenyans a micro-business opportunity. Korir plans to empower locals to be trained as hand pump repairmen, who can earn a living while creating a sustainable supply of safe water for their communities. “A healthy nation becomes a working nation,” Korir said. We empower them with the tools to be able to do it themselves. When it breaks, you don’t just wait for another person to fix it. You fix it yourself.”


Read the article in the Louisville Courier Journal about the hand pump repair project with local police officers in Kenya.


Want to learn how to provide safe water and vital health education to people in developing countries around the world? Learn more about training classes in water treatment, health education, and well repair.

Building sustaining water projects in Haiti with Tiga

WaterStep Grand Goave HaitiGuest Blogger CoraLyn Turentine writes about her experience in Haiti this past September. Read her last blog post about Haiti here.

Also: A lot of work has been done, but there is still work to do. Support the current project in Haiti by donating a few dollars.

What happened on the September 2013 water trip to Grand Goave, Haiti? How can I put it into words?

I think we all have an inner desire to be relevant. We all want to contribute something meaningful to this world, and we all want to be able to say that the world is a better place because we are in it.

How can we live our lives in such a way that our world will mourn the loss of our presence? I don’t know the full answer to this question, but I find clues in documentation of the life that Jesus led. Here is a man who, from childhood until his death, lived a pretty ordinary life. He was raised in an ordinary family. He went to an ordinary synagogue. He got an education, and had an ordinary career as an ordinary carpenter. He volunteered and did community service when opportunities presented themselves. He was an ordinary citizen and activist for human rights. Yet more than 2000 years after his death, the world still hasn’t shaken off the impact that his life had. What was so different about Jesus, that we are still so fascinated by him?

I think what allowed Jesus to make such an impact was that he focused his attention and his love on individuals. This is true even in the context of large groups. There is a document that describes a time in which Jesus was at a speaking engagement with more than 5000 people. Dinner wasn’t provided at this event, but when it ended, Jesus made sure that every single individual ate before they left. He didn’t just order pizzas and hope that everyone got a piece; he made sure that every individual ate. People knew that they mattered to Jesus, because he always remembered the individuals. He didn’t always make people happy, and he definitely had his enemies (crucifixion, anyone?), but he never overlooked the individual.
Health and Hygiene Education in Grand Goave, Haiti - WaterStep

So I have tried to model my life after Jesus. I’ve lived an ordinary life, but in recent years, I have made an intentional effort to always remember the individual. One individual in particular is a guy my age that I met last year while we were doing water work in Grand Goave, Haiti. His name is Tiga, and he was our translator. He was quite ordinary. He took us to all of the local places to get materials so we wouldn’t have to drive out of town. He identified two nursing students who were interested in water purification, and brought them to help put a water system together. He showed us how to eat mangoes “like a Haitian,” (my attempt at this looked a lot like a one-year-old feeding herself mashed fruit for the first time. Can we say ‘messy’?). He taught us about local politics, and thought it was funny that the roosters in Grand Goave kept me up at night (Grand Goave has A LOT of roosters, and they all like to crow. All. Night. Long.) He was also a learner. He helped put the system together, and was trained in water purification. Before we left, ordinary Tiga and I traded contact information. We stayed in touch over the next year, primarily through Facebook and Skype. I introduced him to my husband and sister, and he introduced me to one of his sisters.

About 8 months ago, I got an email from Tiga that he had left his job as a translator and was starting a job as a consultant for two orphanages in Grand Goave. Both orphanages lacked safe water, and he wanted us to return with equipment and train them in water purification. He already had a safe place for us to stay, and food arrangements. He had already done a site assessment, and sent pictures and measurements of where the system should go. He had identified the individuals who would be trained. He was ready for us.
Washing hands in Grand Goave, Haiti - WaterStep

Installing water purifier in Grand Goave, Haiti - WaterStep

On September 30, 2013, we returned to Grand Goave to Heart 2 Heart campus. Sure enough, Tiga had everything in place; and just like last year, Tiga took us to the shops to get materials and coordinated with the orphanage leader. He took us to do a site assessment at the other orphanage, Servants of All (stay tuned for future updates about that orphanage!). He translated. But what was particularly incredible to watch (and I had noticed this last year, too) was how everyone in Grand Goave responded to him. Not only did everyone know him, but everyone clearly adored him. Everywhere we went people waved and called out “Tiga! Hi Tiga!” Even when we went outside of the main town about 20 minutes away, people were still going up to him and shaking hands “Hi Tiga!” I jokingly pointed out that he is a famous celebrity, and that he should run for mayor. He waved off my comments, but eventually told me that he knows each person because they are all people he has helped at one time or another. He had given his dinner to that man on the beach, or had bought some bottled water for that girl by the road. People come to him with ordinary needs all of the time, and what can he do? He has to help them. He and his fiancée are building an ordinary home with an ordinary well, so that everyone in the area can come and get water. When he was a kid, his grandmother used to wake him up in the wee hours of the morning to walk 6 miles and get a bucket of water for the family every single day. He had to be back before it was time for school. He hated it. He doesn’t want the kids in his area to go through that. He has an ordinary American visa, and has had opportunities to come to the States, make good money, take care of his new family. But he turns them down, because he can’t leave Haiti when that kid up the street doesn’t have money for school or safe water to drink. Tiga sees every individual.
Testing chlorine in Haiti
Building mini water treatment plant in Grand Goave Haiti - WaterStepBecause of ordinary Tiga’s heart, 5 young men at Heart 2 Heart orphanage were trained in water purification, and about 100 students and administrators were trained in health and hygiene. The orphanage houses 300 orphans from toddlers to young adults, and provides schooling for an additional 200 Grand Goave youth during the school year. That’s a minimum of 500 people who now have access to safe water for the rest of their lives. Tiga sent me some photos this week of the water system. They built a fence around the system to keep the kids from playing with it and damaging it, and ran some additional piping to a wash basin about 50 feet away. They created 2 faucets, so everyone can get their drinking water, and have a designated space for washing hands, cleaning dishes etc…This may not seem like such a big deal to most people. The significance of this effort is that they have taken ownership of the system. They have adapted it to accommodate their needs and improve sanitation. They have taken steps to protect and take care of it. It’s not just something the foreigners brought in; it is theirs and they are using it.

Someday, ordinary Tiga will pass on from this world (probably in a very ordinary way), and there will be a great deal of mourning (That’s not an exaggeration. He swears he and his wife are going to have 10,000 children, to go with singer Matt Redman’s “10,000 reasons for my heart to find”). Adults who grew up at Heart 2 Heart will revisit the school and show their children the seat they used to sit in when Tiga led Bible study. A mother will show her children the exact spot where the original safe water system that Tiga brought in was installed (I have no doubt that their system will continue to expand and become more sophisticated as the orphanage prospers). 5 old men will remember the day Tiga asked them to help build the system and get trained in water purification…

…oh, the lives we live when we choose to be ordinary.
WaterStep in Haiti

Water Purifier donated in memory of Kentuckian will aid typhoon victims in the Philippines

Glenn Smith, a Kentuckian and long time friend of WaterStep, passed away this past week. A water disaster kit has been donated in memory of his life and his dedication and involvement in the Walk to Emmaus and Residents Encounter Christ ministries. The water disaster kit will be tracked as it goes to the Philippines to aid the typhoon victims there that do not have a source of safe water in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. This act will give new life to others in danger of waterborne illness.

I Thirst Recap

As we are taking time to look back on the highlights of the year, we are grateful to all of the people involved in achieving our mission. This year at I Thirst, we were glad to have a time to reflect and look towards the future. Speakers included CEO Mark Hogg, Indianapolis Representative CoraLyn Turentine, AMOR representative William Walker, and Barbara Sexton Smith from Fund for the Arts. Check out the pictures below to see highlights from the night.

Innovative Idea Supports Shoe Program

Halloween at Grace River Church in Orlando, Florida didn’t just involve candy this year, but shoes. Shoes that will help fund life saving water projects all over the world. Grace River Church, in conjunction with 4 local elementary schools, collected a total of 5,570 pairs of shoes!

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Jasmine Joiner (left), is a super star shoe collector who went around her own neighborhood and collected 346 pairs of shoes all by herself!

Grace River’s shoe drive started mid-September and ended with a bang during their Halloween Block Party/Shoe Drive on October 31st. Their efforts will not only help save lives with safe water, but nearly 6,000 pounds of shoes have been kept from the Florida landfills.

We are blessed and honored to partner with our friends from the south to help bring life saving water to those in need.

Elementary schools participating in the shoe drive included:
Moss Park Elementary
Hidden Oaks Elementary
Vista Lakes Elementary
Durance Elementary

Building Renovations Propel Mission

If you’ve been in our neighborhood lately, maybe you’ve noticed some changes. Last month, the exterior of our building was painted, giving it a much appreciated face lift, donated by PPG. In our front lobby, architectural and design plans from Luckett & Farley architecture firm line the walls. We at WaterStep are in the midst of planning the renovation of our home facility in Louisville.

Let’s back up a bit: WaterStep has always been an organization that aims to transform and reinvent itself.  In 2012, restricted by the space of a leased facility, an opportunity to move into a much larger facility appeared. For our mission, increased square footage correlates with an increase in our scope and ability to perform that mission.

We acquired this new opportunity in the form of a 36,000 square foot, 50 year old building that had been abandoned for 7 years at 625 Myrtle Street. It is a great space and is in significant need of basic renovation.

WaterStep has been very graciously awarded a $500,000.00 (1:1 match) grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation to help accomplish this building renovation project. In order for WaterStep to continue to deliver life-saving support and expand our global footprint, developing a secure foundation and facility is paramount.

This project has already been embraced by the Louisville business community. A phenomenal building committee representing over two dozen companies in the Louisville area, including Luckett & Farley, General Electric, Louisville Water Company, Messer Construction, PPG, Quality Stone, Kiel Thomson Company, Louisville Heating & Air, has come together to help with the design, plan, and construction involved in the renovation. This is where the matching part of the grant is crucial. Contributions to the building renovation, whether money, donated items, in-kind services, or volunteer time, all go towards to the matching portion of the grant.

To clarify, general donations to WaterStep do not go towards the building renovation, towards painting the building, towards building bathrooms. General donations still go to saving lives with safe water.

Having a fully functional facility will allow us to do a better job of saving lives with safe water.

The basic facility renovation details are as follows:

HVAC:  There is no air conditioning or heating is in the warehouse.  Indoor and outdoor temperatures follow each other.

Water School and Hand pump repair – Year round training: To accomplish year round training, the Hand Pump Platform is outside and needs to be enclosed.  Current class size is 15 people/month and WaterStep needs to increase to 30 people/month to adequately serve its mission.

Manufacturing:  To serve the mission with our manufactured products, WaterStep desires to convert space and develop a full time process, including staff, to produce these life saving products, like our M-100 and the Portable Emergency Disaster Unit.

Bathrooms:  Quantity of restroom facilities is inadequate for the plans outlined above.

Other Space:  20% of our building is not usable due to egress code issues.  Proper egresses need to be constructed.

With your gracious commitments, WaterStep can increase the scope of our mission of providing access to safe water to anyone, anywhere.

Working with water in Haiti

Guest blogger CoraLyn Turentine shares her experience working with WaterStep in Haiti, where WaterStep has worked since 2006.
WaterStep Grand Goave Haiti

Often times, people are critical of international development organizations and the impact their efforts have on developing countries.  As an undergraduate student studying sociology and anthropology, we were taught that the majority of international organizations are ethnocentric, viewing themselves as saviors of the developing world. These aid workers thought of themselves as true visionaries and problem solvers, rushing into impoverished communities, pointing out all of their flaws, implementing their own solutions (regardless of whether those solutions were effective or not), and patting themselves on the backs for a job well-done. On the receiving end, the communities felt dis-empowered and offended by the attitudes and actions of the aid workers. Skilled workers felt bitter about losing paid work opportunities to foreign volunteers who provided services for free. The rapport between communities and aid workers was poor and superficial. This dynamic has left many international development evaluators critical of the value of doing international work. Some have even suggested that it discontinues.

I have found that WaterStep’s work in Haiti provides a case-study that challenges these conceptions of international work. This is primarily a result of our commitment to building deep, sincere, and meaningful relationships with those around us.  As we develop true friendships in the countries and communities we work with, we are able to collaborate with our friends to implement effective, sustainable, and transformative change.

Let me provide you with an example:

In March of 2012, myself and a small team spent just over a week in Grand Goave, Haiti completing 2 water system installations at 2 different schools. During that week, we spent a considerable amount of time with our translator who not only translated for us, but showed us where to get materials, helped us install the systems, introduced us to local professionals who desired to be trained in water treatment, and was trained in water treatment, himself. Before leaving, he and I traded contact information and kept in touch via Skype, Facebook, email, and phone.  A little over a year later, he let me know that he had changed jobs and was now working for an orphanage that lacked access to safe water.  He asked if WaterStep could return to train the school in water treatment and health and hygiene education.  When we arrived about 6 months later, we found that our friend had prepared our housing and food arrangements.  He had established a team of young men to work on the installation, and to be trained in water treatment.  He had prepared the children to undergo health and hygiene lessons, and he had set up a meeting with the lead pastor of another orphanage to discuss water treatment at their location.  Within 10 minutes of meeting him, the pastor invited us to tour his orphanage, and made a specific request that we return soon to train his administrators and install a water treatment system.  Because we had built a relationship with our translator, he had become an advocate in his community not only for safe water, but for WaterStep.  This process (as of October, 2013) situates WaterStep with 37 requests in Haiti to come and provide training in health and hygiene and water treatment.

It is the desire of our many friends in Haiti that WaterStep continues to provide education, training, and innovative tools that empower them to enhance the quality of life for all Haitians through safe water and improved health and hygiene.  I call them ‘friends,’ because that is the most accurate description of our relationship.  We encourage them and support them in their vision for a strong, prosperous nation of people.  We celebrate their weddings and the birth of their children.  We mourn the loss of  their loved ones. When disaster strikes, we persevere with them.  The relationship is mutual.  They refine our programming and push us to new levels of creativity and innovation. They pray for us and for our families. They cheer for us and our partners when we are successful in other countries.  We are a part of their lives, and they are a part of ours.

Haitians are incredibly resilient people, and they are making their nation better.  We, at WaterStep, are privileged to be invited to play a role in their plans to build healthy communities.

Simple Engineering Solutions for the Developing World: The WaterBall

Kyle Hunter is the creator of the WaterBall, a technology developed to ease the load of women in the developing world, who walk miles every day to reach safe water sources. Hunter’s story shows the passion, intentionality, and thought that went into the WaterBall, and WaterStep is excited to take the next steps to insure that the technology reaches its full potential. Hunter said, “I believe that this simple idea can provide a grassroots opportunity,” and WaterStep agrees.

WaterBall: Sustainable Technology for Developing World Waterball2


Hunter was working as a consultant engineer in Dallas when he read an article called “Preventing Illness and Saving Lives in Developing Countries,” written by Kurtis Daniels on WaterStep’s water purification efforts. Because he was interested in sustainable engineering, the concept sparked his interest, and eventually shaped his sense of purpose.

Later, Hunter started a water treatment non-profit focused in Latin America. He began working with schools and organizations to provide them with water. While working for the school Acortar Distancias, which was located in Guadalajara, in Jalisco, Mexico, he learned that the nearest water source was two miles away.

Hunter said, “The day I was told that the water was two miles from the school, I started thinking, and I woke up at about 2 am and finalized the first Water-Ball design on the whiteboard I kept in my room.” The initial design was made from wood and metal, but was later modified when thinking about the communities it was intended for.

watball collage

While fundraising for the WaterBall, Hunter was pushed to work with WaterStep through “a couple of strange events that led me to Kentucky,” he said. Hunter was inspired by his father, who told him, “God speaks more through a whisper of silence than through the shaking of the Earth,” after Hunter argued that it would take a “burning bush” for him to hear and understand what he was being called to do. The next day, a friend, who did not know about the conversation with his dad, gave Hunter a silver medallion with a burning bush on it. Without having any official plans, Hunter said, “I booked my flight to Kentucky to meet Kurtis and Mark that night.”

Hunter stayed in a nearby monastery while he waited to meet with WaterStep about the next steps for the WaterBall. During that time, Hunter read four books and spent time talking to anyone who would listen about the WaterBall.

The first day Hunter met with WaterStep’s team, they spoke about what he was trying to accomplish, and he had one of his four prototypes shipped to them overnight. Mark Hogg and Kurtis Daniels of WaterStep quickly saw the potential and importance of Hunter’s idea, and agreed to work with him to move the project forward.

Bill Clinton discusses sustainable technology, WaterBall

Former President Bill Clinton discussed the future of the WaterBall and sustainable technology with WaterStep CEO Mark Hogg.

Since then, the WaterBall has been redesigned multiple times, tested in the field, and further studied and developed. WaterStep kicked off its campaign this month to raise enough money to create a mold that will allow the WaterBall to be mass produced and taken to women and children in the developing world whose lives can be changed because of the simple, innovative technology.

As for Hunter, he continues to follow the project closely, as WaterStep’s fundraising efforts continue. “I am glad to see the project move forward,” he said, “Money provides great opportunity for selfless acts when guided through compassion.” Hunter also hopes that in the future, he will be able to continue developing simple, engineered solutions for the developing world.

To learn more about the design of the WaterBall, and to be a part of the movement, check out our WaterBall page!


Disaster Relief Work in Uttarkashi, India

Guest blogger Lynn Smith shares his experience with WaterStep on the current trip to Uttarkashi, India, to install mini water treatment plants in response to the devastating flooding that hit the area in July (read more here). WaterStep was asked to respond to the July flooding by the Indian organization RLEK to work in conjunction with the organization HPSS of Oxfam India.

Uttarkashi, India


Greetings from Matli, India.  The team of Robin Brothers, Tina Ward-Pugh, Joe Jacobi and Lynn Smith, all representatives of WaterStep along with Suetta Albin have been in this part of northeast India for several days working on installation of water chlorination systems and teaching health and hygiene in local villages.

Tuesday, 10/8/2013 — Robin, Tina, Joe and I arrived in Dehli where we met up with Suetta Albin.  Suetta is from East Texas but has been in India for about 10 years doing work at an orphanage.  After connecting with Suetta we found our hotel for the night for by this time we had been traveling for about 24 hours.

Wednesday, 10/9/2013 — After a good night’s sleep and a refreshing breakfast we went back to the airport for a late morning flight to Dehra Dun. We arrived in Dehra Dun after a short 30 minute flight and met up with our drivers that would transport us over interesting “roads” to the state of Uttarakhand and the town of Uttarkashi and on to the smaller section called Malti.  The drive up carried us into the Himalayan mountains.  We are staying on a campus operated by HPSS (Himalayan Paryawaran Shiksha Sansthan) a non profit organization that has worked with Oxfam to provide relief efforts in this area. The drive from Dehra Dun was a six hour drive on narrow, sometimes paved curvy mountain roads.  Throw in the occasional rock slide, middle of the road standing herd of cattle, and oh yes, the oncoming large truck or bus made for a real adventure.  Darkness came upon us long before we arrived at our final destination, so the many dogs, goats, pigs and people walking along made for many obstacles to be avoided on this trek.  The drivers did an excellent job of delivering us safely to our final location despite total disregard for whatever speed limits there may have been.

Road to Dehra Dun

Upon arriving at the campus around 8:00 PM we met Margaret Weidner our guide, chaperon and interpreter while here.  Per her business card she is a Fulbright-Nehru Student Researcher in Economics, water management with Oxfam connections.  A sharp gal from Evansville, Indiana. Margaret has been at this location for about six months.

Thursday, 10/10/2013 — We started the day with a pleasant surprise of hot Chai tea delivered to our rooms.  As it turns out this is the way we will start each day.  After tea at 6:30, we have breakfast around 9, lunch sometime between 1:00 and 3:30 depending on where we are and what is going on and dinner anytime after 6:30, or 9:00 or later.  The chai tea is black tea, served hot with a good bit of sugar.  It is served in stainless steel cups that are also very hot to the touch.

A large truck delivered the water storage tanks we will use in the villages.  They also delivered five 12 volt batteries that weigh about 100 pounds each. These will be used to power the chlorinators in each village.  Did I mention the campus is about 600 feet down a path from the road and there is also about a 200 foot elevation change over that 600 feet?  Everything that is moved from the campus to anywhere else has to be hand carried.  In the afternoon on Thursday we made the 3 km drive and 2 km walk to the village of Dilsoar.  We were greeted and offered Chai tea while we met the Proda (equal to a district mayor) and many of the people (mostly women) from the village that will be in charge of the chlorinator.  After a good hour long meeting we said our good byes for the day and returned to the campus.
WaterStep in India to bring safe water after disaster Friday, 10/11/2013 – In the morning we returned to Dilsoar and realized the original tank location we had agreed on the day before would not work.  So, we begin to look at different locations to set up the tanks.  After much discussion among the villagers a new site was agreed upon and a small platform was put in place.  The tanks were set and the process of filling them began.

M-100 DSC00749 DSC00755

Joe and Tina did the demonstration and taught the assembly of the chlorinator system.

After that Robin and Suetta did the health and hygiene training for many of the villagers. By the end of the H&H training the 1 hour residence time of the chlorination was done so we all took water from the tank and enjoyed the first safe water ever produced in the village. We chlorinated both tanks with the first taking 45 minutes and the second took only 16 minutes, this is the difference in a cold start and a hot start. The water in this village comes from a spring high up the mountain and was crystal clear with a great taste.

The location of  Dilsoar is N 30° 44′ 01.4” and E 078° 23′ 49.0”
Elevation 3575 feet.

Saturday, 10/12/13  Today we went to Upper Motli, a village just a kilometer down the road.  We walked there and met with the Proda of Motli.  These meetings were long and involved lots of chai tea and talk.  We walked around and discussed different places to set up the tanks.  A location was determined and we were told a platform would be constructed and be ready for us when we returned the next day.  We had time and all the materials there so we set up a tank temporary and did a chlorination demonstration to expose everyone to the process

The location of  Upper Motli is N 30° 44′ 29.9” and E 078° 22′ 56.3”
Elevation 3644 feet.
WaterStep safe water system
Sunday, 10/13/13  - We returned to Upper Motli and did the two tank installation.  This was for the most part done by local women that have been with us all week.  H & H did their training and all went well.  We finished up in the early afternoon so we went back to the campus and had lunch.  Then we set out for Lower Motli.  This is a poorer location but still has about 50 families living there.  This village is a bit unique in that there are two different castes that live together in this village.  We met with some of the village people and toured the village.  We went a ways up the mountain side and saw the 5000 gallon tank that is used for storage for the dry season.  The tank is an old steal tank that appears to be concrete lined. This did not look like a good option to try and chlorinate the large tank.  We went back down into the heart of the village and were shown a small courtyard of a house and told this will be were the tanks will be located.  The issue here is this is the house of someone in the upper of the two castes and the question was raised about both castes being welcome to use this location.  As it turns out the family that lives in this house has taken in a family from the lower caste to live with them because their home was destroyed in the most recent flooding.  That being the case, the issue of being unwelcome went away.

Monday, 10/14/13 — We returned to Lower Motli and installed a tank on a table.  The village will in the future build a platform that will support both tanks.  The tank was filled and the training began. This training was done completely by two local women that had been working with us the entire time we have been here.  They did an outstanding job, not missing anything and communicating in a way that no outsider possibly could.  H & H was also taught by locals and again did a great job.

The location of  Lower Motli is N 30° 44′ 27.0” and E 078° 22′ 18.7”
Elevation 3492 feet.
M-100 s/n is 0264


Tuesday, 10/15/13 –  The entire day was spent getting ready for the visitors that will be coming here.  We filled a tank last night to chlorinate today.  We chlorinated this tank to be able to offer visitors water that had been made safe.  This morning we also set up a second tank to demonstrate the chlorinator. Around 11 in the morning the school children began to arrive, all 67 of them.  After that local village leaders arrived and finally some people from the press arrived.

H & H did a training session with everyone and then Joe and a local did the purifier demo and training.  This went well and really hit home how this system could really make an impact on peoples lives. The rest of the afternoon was spent recovering from all the events of the day.

It is so hard to believe this is our last night here.  Tomorrow we will start our trek toward the airport in Dehra Dun.  Then on to Dehli and then to the States.
What a great trip this has been.  Many lives have been impacted. There are several here that can operate the M-100 and can teach others.  We were welcomed with open arms everywhere we have been.  Our contact here, Margaret Weidner could not have been a better person to work with.  She is energetic, speaks the language and has connected
with the people.

For this trip to Matli, Uttarkashi, India, our time is done.


IF Water 2013

IF Water room

To watch the speakers at IF Water, visit the Wave 3 IF Water page.

Thanks to everyone who attended this year’s IF Water Conference at the Ali Center! We are so grateful for the support of everyone who attended. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a quick recap of what was discussed.

Opening remarks were made by Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Ali Center. He introduced the day’s events and spoke about the Ali Center’s new initiative, Generation Ali, which engages young people to use Muhammad Ali’s six core principles to take on social justice issues in the world around them.

Our CEO, Mark Hogg, opened up the day with a talk about WaterStep’s vision, the power of mobile technology, and how local business and individuals can get involved in our cause. He also officially kicked off the WaterBall campaign.

Next, U.S. Representative for Kentucky John Yarmuth spoke about the World Water Act and the effects of politics on water. Yarmuth discussed the need to expel big money from politics and the general need for sensibility in modern politics.

Greg Heitzman, executive director of MSD brought an administrative view to the water crisis. As a former CEO of the Louisville Water Company, Heitzman brought his expertise of the water industry to his discussion of the challenges and trends facing the industry and how innovation in technology can make water a bigger player in the global economy.

Gregory Long and Ann McCormick from Ford Motor Company came to talk to us about Ford’s efforts to save water during production and how these efforts will go forward in the future.
After lunch we held an interactive activity for all the participants to brainstorm about how WaterStep can raise awareness, connect people with training, and raise money. From relay races with the WaterBall to outreach education with high school students, the attendees came up with some fantastic ideas.

Keynote speaker Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst, shared his experiences while writing his book to show how water plays so many roles in our lives. He spoke of us his time carrying water with girls in India, visiting the IBM ultra pure water treatment plant, and the emotional power of water.  He told numerous anecdotes of individuals’ interactions and relationships with water, and how many in the world take it for granted. His extensive discussion of the availability and importance of the world’s most precious resource brought perspective to a problem that we at WaterStep are so passionate about ending.

IVY Tech’s Jeff Pittman and Lacie Crone spoke about their initiative to create a new way to administer distance learning courses for WaterStep’s training in health and hygiene education and water purification. After extensive researching and testing in the field, they have jump-started a program to teach these valuable skills to people throughout the world via Blackboard.

Tori Murdon McClure, President of Spalding University and the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo, wrapped up our speeches for the day with a talk about the diplomatic powers of water. Although she joked about thinking she was giving a speech to sixth graders, she explored the topic of the simultaneous scarcity and abundance of water very deeply.

Closing remarks were given by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Two Maasai warriors from Kenya, Wilson and Jackson, joined Mayor Fischer to speak about their experiences as warriors and how water has impacted their community.

Thanks to everyone who made IF Water possible this year, we’re already planning for next year!

Day of the Girl

Haiti January 2010 Water pump repair Filter installation

Organizations all around the world are uniting today to support girls in desperate situations. For the last two years, October 11th has been a day to recognize the rights of girls and the unique challenges they face.

From the U.N.’s website:

“On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”

“Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”

Waterball 1 copy

Today, WaterStep is thinking about the women and girls all over the world who struggle to access safe water sources everyday. They walk miles each day to get to a source, taking up physical strength, energy and time that could be better spent. The WaterBall allows women to carry more water, faster. Partnered with safe water solutions, like the M-100, the WaterBall can give women freedom to get an education, open a small business to support their family, or care for children and loved ones.

WaterStep ambassadors to India, David and Robin Brothers have seen, first-hand the impact that safe water can have on the lives of women. “This is really good for women,” David Brothers said. “Many spend 30% of their day gathering and boiling water. It also, of course, improves the health of the people in the village, especially children.”

The impact water purification has on women is immeasurable, according to the Brothers. “The women became champions of the chlorinator because they understand how clean water affects their family,” Robin Brothers said. “They used to have to boil water [to kill the bacteria so it would be safe to drink], which included collecting water, and firewood, charcoal, or kerosene. Having the chlorinator gave them hours to do other things for their families.”

“The Indian government said that if all the women in India did not have to boil and collect water, the country’s productivity would go up ten percent. It helps the economy,” David Brothers said.

WaterStep’s chlorinator, paired with the WaterBall open up a world of new opportunities to women. This month, we are working to raise $50,000 for the WaterBall. You can make a difference in the lives of girls all over the world. To learn more about the WaterBall, go here, or to donate, go here. And let your friends know that they can help – share this blog on your Facebook and Twitter. You can follow @WaterStep on Twitter, @WaterStepintl on Instagram, and find us on Facebook as WaterStep. Let us know your thoughts on empowering women today on International Day of the Girl.


Mark Hogg Recognized at Ali Humanitarian Awards

Thursday night at the 2013 Ali Awards, WaterStep CEO Mark Hogg was awarded the Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year. Other award winners included former President Jimmy Carter, Michael Bolton and Christina Aguilera.

The awards ceremony honored the winners for their commitment to different causes: water, hunger-relief, gender equality and more. Muhammed Ali, his wife Yolonda, and daughter Laila, along with President and CEO of the Ali Center Donald Lassere congratulated the award winners.

The awards ceremony also recognized additional award winners for their reflection of the core principles of the Muhammed Ali Center including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. Six winners under the age of 30 were selected for each category. Three of the winners: Zahra Mahmoodi of Afghanistan, Tanvi Girotra of India, and Muhammed Kisirisa of Uganda toured WaterStep’s international headquarters the day after the awards.

Kisirisa took home an M-100 Chlorinator to install in his hometown. The others discussed potential of future collaboration and further connections that can advance WaterStep’s work.


WaterBall Part 2: The Design

The intent of this blog is to explain in more detail the design process of the WaterBall.  Two design iterations were done, the first WaterBall prototype (referred to as WaterBall 1.0 for this post) was created and taken to Haiti for testing.  A second prototype (WaterBall 2.0) was developed based on changes desired after field testing.  The driving factors behind redesigning the WaterBall were cost and size, WaterStep sought to decrease manufacture cost while also decreasing the size for the sake of shipping and handling while in use.  We wanted a product that not only help women and children transport water, but a product that would help them transport water more efficiently.  Below is a chart that highlights some of the main differences between the two designs.

Component WaterBall 1.0 WaterBall 2.0
Diameter (inches) 24 17
Volume (gallons) 30 12.5
Water Mass when full (lbs) 240 100
Height  4′ 6″ 4′
Cap Narrow Fitting Wide Fitting
Mold Style Injection Rotomold

Shipping Impact– To fit a standard 60” (20” x  20” x 20”) shipping container, the radius of the ball was changed from 24” to 17”.  Along with a handle that can be broken down and assembled in country, this allows containment goals to be met.

Mass & Volume Impact– In order to meet the abilities of women and girls, who are often undernourished and of small frame, the WaterBall needs to be relatively light weight.  When testing Design 1 it was determined that the WaterBall was too massive for target users.  Keeping this in mind, designers controlled the maximum allowed volume and mass for the ball using diameter.  See the formulas and conversions below.

V = 4/3πr       1 in3 = 230 gal.

Waterball 1

Height (Handle) Impact – As mentioned above, women and girls tend to be of small frame in the developing world.  This means that a four and a half foot tall WaterBall was not user friendly for them.  By shortening the handle by just six inches the Waterball became much more functional for them.  It was also designed in segments that can be broken down into less than 20” segments to fit the desired shipping dimensions.

Cap - While testing in the field, users noted that the cap was rather narrow for filling the ball with water, and had interior threaded fitting prone to collecting dirt and fouling the water as it enters the ball.  To remedy this, WaterBall 2.0 has a 2” diameter fitting with exterior threads on the fitting.  The cap was also replaced from a “heavy duty” to a less costly version that will be easier to replace in country.

Cost - In addition to the above changes, a lowering the cost of the WaterBall manufacture was also desired.  For the most part each change in design contributes to lowering the cost of the WaterBall, but switching the design to rotomold and investing in a mold specifically created for the ball part of the WaterBall allows a significant cost decrease from WaterBall 1.0 to WaterBall 2.0.  By streamlining this part of the manufacture process WaterStep will invest money up front to cover overhead costs so that in the future manufacture per ball is significantly decreased, with total cost over time being less in the end.


Saving the World Through Water – Water Infographic

Check out our infographic below, also featured on National Geographic’s website. The water infographic shows the need for safe water solutions and the impact water training and technology can have on those in need.


a water infographic to show the impact of the world water crisis and what YOU can do to help more people have access to safe water.

Want to know how we are taking steps to end the water crisis? Start with our Who We Are page, and dig further by clicking Get Involved.

WaterBall Part 1: Why the WaterBall?

When you want water, what do you do? Chances are you walk to your kitchen and turn on your faucet. What if you didn’t have a faucet, or what if when you turned your faucet on, nothing came out? You’d have to walk for water. This is the reality for lots of people in the world. In the developing world, people walk an average of 6.2 miles to get to a water source. This burden usually falls on women and children.

So you have to walk for water. What does this mean?

  1. It’s heavy. One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. That means that a 5 gallon container of water (a pretty modest volume if you remember that the average American uses 80+ gallons of water daily) weighs more than 40 pounds. A woman walking several miles every day with 40 pounds of water strapped to her back, her side, or sitting on top of her head can do severe damage to her skeletal structure. This is especially true if she is carrying water at a young age while her body is still developing.
  1. It’s risky. A woman or child walking alone lugging 40 pounds of water is vulnerable to being harassed, attacked, robbed, kidnapped, raped, or killed.
  1. There’s an opportunity cost. A woman or child might spend up to three hours daily carrying water. For those three hours, she is not taking care of her family, going to school, or doing anything else.

Waterball 1

What is the solution?

Here’s one: the WaterBall, one of the tools in WaterStep’s tool box. And it’s really basic. The WaterBall is simply a plastic sphere with a cap and a handle to push it. It can hold 12-25 gallons of water depending on the size of the sphere.

How does it work? Very simply. Using the handle you push the WaterBall to a safe water source, fill it up, and take it home.

The WaterBall replaces buckets, Jerrycans, and other containers for carrying water. What does this mean?

  1. Less strain. There is less direct weight on the body, which reduces the chance of permanent skeletal damage from carrying heavy loads of water.
  1. More water. Because of the design you can carry more water in one trip. More than 100 pounds.
  1. More time. Carrying more water in one trip means less time carrying water, so you have more time to do other things like go to school, take care of a family, start a business, and improve your quality of life.

So why I am talking about the WaterBall? The WaterBall is a great example of how simple design and innovative engineering can help solve the world’s biggest problem: sustainable access to a safe water source.

Currently, the WaterBall is still in development. WaterStep, with the help of volunteer engineers from General Electric, has designed, tested, and deployed water balls in Haiti. But we want to do more.

We want to put 300 more WaterBalls into the field.

Next week WaterStep kicks off its campaign to raise $50,000 for the final design, manufacturing, assembly, and shipping of 300 WaterBalls.  This, frankly, is going to take the support of a lot of folks. And I hope that if you’ve read this far, your curiosity is piqued and you’re interested in supporting WaterStep’s goal to put 300 WaterBalls into the field. In the next week, in conjunction with IF Water, WaterStep will be gearing up for the WaterBall campaign, sharing videos, articles, and information about effective water transportation and the WaterBall. To learn how you can help, stay tuned to this blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Up next: a look at how the WaterBall is designed.



KY Humanitarian of the Year: Mark Hogg

Our own Mark Hogg, Founder and CEO, has been selected as the Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year and will be awarded with this honor on Thursday, October 3rd at The Inaugural Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards: An Evening of Recognizing Greatness. The event will be a night of celebration, recognition and inspiration honoring humanitarians who exemplify Muhammad’s six core principles in the following categories: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality for young people (35 and under); Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Award.  All of these awards recognize individuals around the world who have made significant contributions toward the attainment of peace, social justice or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital. The event will take place from 6:00-9:30pm that evening at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.

Mark for Web

Mr. Hogg, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in Nashville, ended up in Louisville with a combination of skills as a construction company owner and youth minister. It was through church-led missions to West Africa in 1983, that he learned about the world’s water crisis and realized that water could be a connecting point between cultures.

Through WaterStep, Mr. Hogg’s  focus is on providing solutions to the world’s water crisis, from bringing safe water to developing countries to providing water for disaster relief and emergency contingency plans in local communities.  He  launched his non-profit organization in 1995 as EDGE Outreach and he has since championed the cause on a global level. In 2012, Mr. Hogg refocused and grew the organization to become WaterStep. That same year, he founded IF Water, an international water conference held in conjunction with Idea Festival ® and speaks to international audiences on clean water issues.

Mr. Hogg had this to say about being named the Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year: “I am truly honored to be amongst those receiving the first-ever Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards. We fight to save lives at risk from waterborne illness around the world every day. We believe the world water crisis is solvable in our lifetime and that ordinary people will innovate and replicate tangible ways to make this happen. Knowing something is possible is often the catalyst that activates an entire populace. Muhammad Ali’s identified six core principles of confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality are important whether you are standing toe to toe with an opponent, living in community, or facing issues of any magnitude. So, I don’t take this award lightly. I accept it with great respect of a man who not only exemplifies social justice, but is also an iconic humanitarian himself.”

Volunteer Spotlight — Marcella Davis

ShoesWaterStep is so proud to have some of the best and most devoted volunteers around.  Today, we’d like to take the time to appreciate one in particular.  Marcella Davis, an 84-year-old resident at the Christian Care Community here in Louisville, is holding a city-wide shoe drive, with the goal of collecting 10,000 pairs of shoes by October 5th, to help people around the world obtain access to clean, safe water.

Marcella came to know WaterStep during the Mayor’s Give-a-Day Week in the spring and decided that collecting shoes was something she could do to help bring someone safe water that needed it.  What Marcella is doing is the epitome of our vision — grassroots support from everyday people looking to make a massive difference in the world.  We cannot thank her enough for her enthusiasm and drive, and we hope everyone can pitch in to help her reach her goal of collecting 10,000 pairs of shoes by October 5th.  Any amount of shoes you can donate will help make a difference.

Her shoe collection drive is being held on October 5th from 9 AM to 2 PM.  Please bring any new or used shoes you have to the WaterStep office at 625 Myrtle Street Louisville, KY 40208 or the Christian Care Community campus.  Additionally, any shoes donated during the CQ Jam for WaterStep concert at the Captain’s Quarters Grille in Prospect on October 5th will also go towards Marcella’s goal.  Thanks to donations and volunteers like Marcella, we are stepping closer to our goal of a world where everyone has access to safe water.

Morgan Floyd Works to Bring Safe Water to School for the Blind

Morgan Floyd is bringing WaterStep’s M-100 Chlorine Generator to a school for the blind in Udaipur, India after attending WaterStep trainings in July and August this summer. Floyd worked at the school for the blind last summer, and is returning this October.

She will also be working in two places in Kolkata until summer of 2014.The first is Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity which provides service to the poor in the slums of the city. The other is called New Light and is a nonprofit serving as a shelter for the Red Light district children. Floyd said her purpose in doing this work is to “show Christ through service and give back a little of the privilege and blessing I have been given.”

WaterStep was excited to train Floyd on how to install and maintain a water purification system. Floyd represents one of WaterStep’s central goals in providing training. Wherever people are going next, WaterStep encourages them to “take water with them,” according to Training and Trips Director Claudia Daniels. While WaterStep orchestrates their own mission trips, more people can be reached by sending M-100s to places where others are already going.

Floyd said, “Water has helped me so much because now when I go back to the blind school in Udaipur, I have a substantial aid to give to the boys I love so much.” The school does not have a clean water source, so by providing the M-100 and training, Floyd will be able to empower them and give them a way to be healthy.

Floyd’s biggest challenge was figuring out how to teach M-100 assembly and maintenance to blind students. To solve the problem, WaterStep connected her with VP of the American Printing House, Gary Mudd and the Kentucky School for the Blind based in Louisville, KY. They were able to help her figure out how to teach health and hygiene to blind students, and the appropriate technology to use. Most importantly, they provided her with a probe that will audibly call out the chlorine content of water because a typical chlorine content test requires observing the color change of tested water.

Floyd said, “WaterStep went above and beyond with helping me on this desire I had for the Blind School… I can’t wait to see how all my training will come together when I install this in October.”

CQ Jam for WaterStep Oct. 5

The first annual “CQ Jam for WaterStep” will be held on Saturday, October 5th beginning at 4:00pm at Captains Quarters Riverside Grille, 5700 Captains Quarters Road in Prospect. The live music event will feature a riverside stage where four of Louisville’s finest bands will perform, allowing the local boating community to beach or anchor and enjoy the festivities. The $5 cover charge and a portion of the evening’s food and beverage sales will benefit WaterStep.


Bands scheduled to perform at the event are: The Decades, a 9-piece group with a horn section; national recording artist and guitarist Wayne Young who will perform a tribute to Eric Clapton; The Rob Nickerson Group featuring Nashville recording vocalist Lindsay Willinger, and The Unlimited Showband, a Louisville favorite who will bring to the stage the very best in Soul, R&B and Funk music.


“This is an extraordinary line-up of some of the best talent and entertainment in the Midwest, and we are proud to host a benefit for WaterStep that will affect people all around the world,” said Captains Quarters GM/Owner Andrew Masterson.

WaterStep Founder and CEO Mark Hogg says, “We are always honored to share WaterStep’s story with others and this event provides a unique opportunity to tell that story along the banks of the Ohio River, which reminds us of the importance and power that water brings to our lives. We appreciate that we have been selected as the recipient of the proceeds of this event”

The event will be emceed by “2-Guys Havin Fun”, a popular Oldham County duo known for making good times better, and the production services will be provided by Brian Hood of Ultimate Audio.

The event is sponsored by the Neil Huffman Auto Group. For more information, call (502) 568-6342.


Emergency Management Agencies Partner with WaterStep

WaterStep is excited to be working with the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in Kentucky and Indiana to create more sustainable options to disaster relief.

The EMA have participated in Disaster Relief Training through WaterStep. They were trained on how to operate WaterStep’s M-100 Chlorine Generator and provide safe water to responders when in need.

EMA wrote in their newsletter that through an MMRS grant with the Department of Homeland Security, they purchased three WaterStep systems to be housed at EMA/MetroSafe, the Juvenile Detention Center, and the Department of Corrections in case there is a need for purified drinking water.

The benefits of this to the community are immense. Instead of Louisville Metro Corrections having to buy enough bottled water for a week, they can spend their money on WaterStep’s M-100, which is a one time cost, and far more sustainable. This provides more funding for WaterStep to continue its mission of providing safe water to those in need, and frees up funds for Louisville Metro Corrections to spend on the community in other ways.

In the event that a primary water source goes out, like a water main break, or worse, a flood or tornado occurs, the Emergency Disaster Kit is on hand for EMA authorities, who have been trained to deploy, and mobilize water to those immediately effected. WaterStep’s training system gives authorities the tools and practice they need to operate a chlorine generator and quickly provide safe water to thousands. This is essential to EMA’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to a disaster situation.

In emergency management, sustainability, durability and rapid deployment are essential. WaterStep’s system provides all of these things and more. In their newsletter, EMA said, “There are so many great things WaterStep does for those in need and we are excited to be part of their efforts.”IMG_20130808_123718

Moving forward, WaterStep will continue to work with EMA’s across the region, and eventually the country to provide training and support, while attracting new interest from similar agencies that have a need for a secondary, emergency water source.

Women and Water


IMG_1332 copySafe water saves live. At WaterStep, we know and are motivated by this truth. However, bringing safe water to those in need has effects greater than the physical. For women, safe water means better health for their family, more time to commit to education or a job, and more control of their own lives.

In developing countries, women and children walk an average of 6 kilometers a day to get to water sources, according to Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero.

UN Women put a spotlight on the global water crisis on world water day this year. “Lack of access to drinking water increases [women’s] burden and reduces their time for other activities, such as going to school or earning an income.”

“Globally, it is estimated that women spend more than 200 million hours per day collecting water. This burden could increase significantly in coming years,” according to UN Women.

Not only are women traveling great distances to access water, but in many countries, women spend hours boiling water to kill bacteria.

WaterStep’s India Representatives, David and Robin Brothers, have seen the impact of safe water on the women of a community first hand. They have worked in North East India, installing WaterStep’s M-100 chlorine generator in several different communities.

“The women became champions of the chlorinator because they understood how clean water affects their family. They use to have to boil water, which included collecting water, and firewood, charcoal, or kerosene. Having the chlorinator gave them hours to do other things for their families,” Robin Brothers said.

The benefits of providing women with more control over their time are vast, and would affect countries on a large scale. “The Indian government said that if all the women in India did not have to boil water, the country’s productivity would go up ten percent. It helps the economy,” David Brothers said.

By giving people access to clean water, women gain more time to spend on their education, job, or family, as well as less time nursing the sick.

Safe water and sanitation also helps protect pregnant women from diseases. According to UNICEF, “About 44 million pregnant women have sanitation-related hookworm infections that pose a considerable health burden in developing societies.”

After installing a chlorine generator in one area, a community doctor told David Brothers the birth rate had noticeably increased because women were drinking the clean water.

The impact of clean water on women is vast, and that has an impact on the lives of entire countries.

To learn more about how water and women, check out these links:

We miss you Carl

I’ve known Carl and Judy Elmer for over 20 years, and have been honored to be their neighbor and have watched the impact of their dream unfold. Carl has told the story of God as potter again and again before tens of thousands of people.

Our hearts were shocked last week when we learned Carl  had suffered a blood clot. After surgery he is now recovering and many of us throughout the community are in the hope and prayer that he will be gaining healing and strength every day.

At WaterStep, Carl plays a huge role in our efforts to save lives with safe water. Carl faithfully helps around WaterStep. Every Tuesday and Thursday, he does maintenance work, hangs up art work, fixes door handles and ceiling tiles, trims the lawn, and anything else needed. All the while and most importantly, he is an encourager and reminder of God’s work in our daily midst. He helps with special events as well, figuring out how to house equipment and preparing the building for those activities and trainings that help us saves lives.

Carl is loved by everyone at WaterStep. Without his efforts to keep the office up and running, our mission would not be achieved. We love you Carl and miss your quiet demenor and quick smile in the halls. Today we pray for a quick healing and are anxious to hear your “story” when you return.

Mark Hogg midst the voices of the people at WaterStep

Millenial Train and WS Millenials Collaborate

Mark Hogg boarded the Millennial Train Wednesday evening and stopped in Chicago Thursday morning to speak to the Millennials about WaterStep’s future with Virtual Water Utilities.


The Millennial Train is a non-profit organization that leads crowd-funded transcontinental train journeys that empower diverse groups of enterprising and civic-minded Millennials to explore America’s new frontiers. Over the course of ten days, participants gain opportunities for personal development and shared discovery through seminars, mentors, workshops and projects.

Mark Hogg started the morning out by connecting the Millennials on the train with WaterStep’s generation of Millennials. For those of you who haven’t heard the term “Millennials,” it refers to the generation born from the early 1980′s-2000′s. WaterStep’s team of Millennials tweeted back and forth with those on board the train throughout the morning to collaborate on new ideas, questions, and thoughts for the future of safe water in the world. Using #WSvwu to represent WaterStep Virtual Water Utilities, they communicated about Hogg’s talk and asked each other new questions.

Facts like, “80% of all illness in the world is from waterborne diseases,” and “With a handful of salt and a car battery, we can produce water that is safe to drink,” caught the attention of listeners as they were tweeted out during the presentation.

Other tweeters were inspired by Hogg’s words and thought about how their personal projects could be helpful to WaterStep.

@kbc88 said, “Loving the public health message that @MarkHogg is bringing to #entrepreneurship. #Newfrontiers #WSvwu @WaterStep @ideamornings

@Sweat_everyday said, “We’d love to collaborate on community workouts worldwide and clean water. Everyone will be thirsty after sweating!”

@SeanKolodziej said, “Glad to be working with Mark Hogg and WaterStep to solve the world’s water problems #WSvwu”

millennial train

The conversation continues as Millennials answer survey questions and we continue working together and thinking about more ways to bring safe water to people.

To see more from the morning and chime in with your thoughts, search and use #WSvwu on Twitter, or follow the link below to Millennial Train’s Highlights from the morning:
Millennial Train’s Storify of Twitter Highlights from the Morning

More info on the Millennial Train:


Wesley Korir and LMPD Working with WaterStep

Boston Marathon winner and first independent member of Kenyan Parliament, Wesley Korir, spoke at WaterStep Monday night about the importance of safe water in his country and the potential that WaterStep has to make a difference in the future.


Members of the Louisville Metro Police Department and other community members gathered to hear Korir speak about the impact that their upcoming trip to Kenya will have on the communities there. Dr. Bill Smock, WaterStep’s Medical Director, is leading the team of LMPD members to Kenya in November to install M-100 Chlorine Generators.

Smock has worked with WaterStep for over a year now and has found that the best way to decrease the amount of disease spread in developing countries is by providing people with clean water. Up to 80% of disease in the world is attributable to unclean water. Smock said, “The best way to help people is by giving them clean water to drink.”

Korir agreed. He said, “The one thing that has always defeated people is water.” Korir explained that because people do not have access to clean water, they become stuck in sickness and poverty that prevents them from making the next steps towards self sufficiency.

WaterStep’s program not only gives people access to safe water, but empowers them to take ownership of their community’s system. “We empower them with the tools to be able to do it themselves,” Korir said, “When it breaks, you don’t just wait for another person to come and fix it. You fix it yourself.”

The benefits of clean water are extensive, and when WaterStep comes into a new area and teaches locals how to maintain our M-100 Chlorine Generator, they are empowered with better health, more opportunities, and confidence.

Korir said, “A healthy nation becomes a working nation.”

Volunteers learn to repair hand pumps in Kenya – WDRB 41 Louisville News. Click to watch WDRB’s feature on WaterStep’s work with Korir and Smock.

Stories from the Field: Panama

Two of WaterStep’s ambassadors, Tori and Natalie, are recently traveled to Panama as part of WaterStep’s vision to empower ordinary people with safe water.  While there they connected with organizations and networked to ensure that WaterStep has a pivotal role in efforts fighting the water crisis within Panama in the future.

Tori and Natalie spent much time with Quality Leadership University raising curiosity and interest about the philosophy and mission of Waterstep at a QLU-sponsored job fair. While simply traveling through the area the desperate need for clean water was obvious, but M-100 purifiers have already been installed and WaterStep (thanks to Tori and Natalie!) certainly is making a difference.

By valuing human interactions and embracing whatever comes their way, these ambassadors are teaching, learning, and creating change everywhere they go!  Read more and check out their blog at

Jason D’Mello and the Millennial Train

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WaterStep is excited to be part of the Millennial Train Project this August.  MTP is 10 day transcontinental journey by train in which the young entrepreneurs and innovators onboard will take part in workshops, idea sharing, and networking.  They will stop at 7 cities along the way and broadcast the event online.  Checkout the video below for more on MTP.

Jason D’Mello, one of the MTP participants, will advocate for WaterStep throughout the journey. D’Mello is founder of Idea Mornings – a monthly breakfast talk aimed to spark new ideas in Louisville, Kentucky.  He secured his spot on the train by crowdfunding his ticket, as each participant on the journey is expected to raise at least $5,000 to cover their ticket to board.

You can read more about Jason here, and keep an eye on our blog for more updates on his journey.

Updates from the Field: Costa Rica

Kurtis and Claudia are once again leading a water team in Costa Rica. Read the latest exciting news from them below!

Day one of our trip in Costa Rica was filled with surveying our sites, buying materials, and anticipation for the week ahead. The team split into two groups; one to construct a rain catchment system at a school while the other scouted sites and met some of the individuals we will work with throughout the week. Upon finding a leak in the rain catchment setup, one of the team members jokingly said “Oh well, it is going to rain anyways.” This quickly became the quote of the day. All in all, the rain catcher was a success! The principal of the school where it was installed is very pleased and could not stop thanking the group for their hard work.

On day two one group started to install a water purification system for a church feeding center that has provided food to local children everyday for two years now. It was a very long day, but the group managed to complete more than half the project and planned on coming back the next day to finish. The rest of the group held a vision clinic at the church’s feeding center. The vision clinic was such a success! The team met with over 250 people. One of the most memorable events of the day were two young, beautiful sisters who could not see two fingers held in front of their face. Their eyesight was so poor that our team members working the focometer couldn’t get a reading. We decided to just try to find some glasses that these girls could see out of. The team members at the glasses station just pulled two pairs out of the box and put them on and after a few minor adjustments both girls left with big smiles on their faces, seeing at 20/40 for the first time in their lives!

While the vision team worked at one site, the water team was at another installing a rather extensive project. They worked in a large church that has a feeding center. Every day of the year this church feeds over 100 children in a local slum. Before, the water was unsafe for consumption. Now, safe water is delivered to both church kitchens so that food and drinks prepared there are safe to consume. The church is working on a plan so the children can bring clean water home with them for their families. Good stuff!

Day three, once again, was packed with activities. Team one finished up the water system at the church while team two taught health and hygiene in every class room of a local school. These children were great, every class stood as we entered the room and in perfect English said, “good morning, thank you for coming here today”. Dan shook everyone’s hand and spread germs (glitter) all around the class, then John came in and sneezed on all the children (using a squirt bottle), followed by Larry with a huge fly that landed on poop that landed on all the children and their lunches. Through all the fun, games and giggling I can tell you that all the children learned how germs were transmitted and learned some simple ways to prevent it. After the hand washing demonstration, everyone followed up with the proper way to wash their hands! The principal followed us from room to room filming the whole thing. He loved it.

That’s all for now, we are tired but filled with joy knowing that our work is changing lives. Everyone is great, well fed and happy!

Middle School Staff Use Water Projects as Teaching Opportunities

Staff from East Oldham Middle School have traveled to install chlorine generators for WaterStep for six years. Dennis Mangum reported on why the water projects have been beneficial for their staff members and for students:
For the sixth consecutive year, staff from East Oldham Middle School traveled overseas to install Waterstep chlorine generators in needy communities longing for clean drinking water. This year, four staff members spent 15 days in rural China installing systems in 7 different schools. Though quite challenging, it was one of the most successful projects undertaken thus far. Over the past six years, over 6000 students have been given access to clean drinking water through the efforts of East Oldham Middle School. The students of EOMS have supported the annual projects by designing and selling T-shirts, hosting after-school “water dances”, donating “snack shack” money, and seeking donations from community businesses and members. The students use the chlorine generators to learn about chemistry in their science classes, and study water issues in social studies class. In language arts they read about young people from around the world who deal daily with water-related issues, and they use statistics dealing with water in math class. It has been the hope of the staff of EOMS, that through these annual “water projects”, students will gain a deeper sense of their global responsibilities as members of the human race, develop a “servant” attitude, and become more aware of the daily hardships that challenge so many people on a daily basis.

WaterStep to be Featured at Indiana Black Expo

WaterStep will be featured at the Indiana Black Expo Youth Leadership and Community Service Summit this year, which is an opportunity to educate almost 400 students about the water crisis.

As WaterStep continues to expand our international reach, we are also working to spread the word about what we do and gain support in the United States. CoraLyn Turentine is working in Indianapolis to encourage even more people to be excited about WaterStep’s mission.

coralynn copy

The Indiana Black Expo Youth Leadership Summit invites area youth to become empowered and equipped to be change agents in their communities. Since 1984, the Indiana Black Expo has prepared Indiana youth to actively seek change to improve their communities.

At the Black Expo, Turentine and members of the WaterStep staff from Louisville,  will speak to two groups of students about the water crisis and a few of WaterStep’s solutions. They will learn about the importance of health and hygiene training, as well as the technology behind our M-100 Chlorine Generator and the water ball.

Turentine also will show them how they can make a difference by equipping them to get involved in their local communities. Students could hold their own shoe drive to benefit WaterStep’s Shoes for Water program, which allows WaterStep to provide safe water to more people.

In addition to hosting the summit, Turentine will also be recognized at this year’s Diversity Volunteer Awards as the winner of the Outstanding Service Award, Young Adult. The award is being given by United Way to recognize the achievement of outstanding volunteers from diverse backgrounds.

Turentine continues to support WaterStep through her work in Indianapolis. WaterStep is looking forward to our next steps to expand our reach in Indianapolis and the world.


WaterStep to Work at Hospital in Honduras

WaterStep is excited to be a part of a mission with the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery to bring safe water to Hospital De Area Puerto Cortes in Honduras this month. We will be working alongside several NGO’s and other organizations to install a water treatment plant at the hospital.


WaterStep has been a part of Operation Continuing Promise over the last three years, taking part in the 2010 and 2011 missions. When the 2013 mission was cut, WaterStep wanted to find another way to bring safe water to the people of Honduras.

We were asked to do work in July, and will send Kurtis Daniels and Kari Williams to install a mini water treatment plant in the hospital.

The municipal water coming into the hospital is not safe for drinking, and while water bottles are an option, they are not always affordable.WaterStep’s M-100 chlorine generator is an affordable solution that works on a large scale.

In order to be allowed to do the mission, WaterStep had to prove that we were not only the best option, but the only one that can provide the same thing we can. In a document written by a representative who has worked with us in the past, WaterStep was described as “the only system that combines portability, scalability with extremely rigorous filtration standards.”

WaterStep is unique for our products, as well as our training which allows us to be a more sustainable solution. The representative said, “The M-100 Chlorine generator combined with the WaterStep approach to system installation and sustainability training is unique.”

The medical conference will provide rehydration solutions through the water system to demonstrate the U.S. commitment and partnership with the people of Honduras. U.S. personnel are trained and postured to return and conduct future humanitarian support and foreign disaster relief missions.


WaterStep Responds to Flooding in India

Flooding in India has killed at least 1,000 people and left many without homes or access to safe water. WaterStep is mobilizing a team to bring safe water to the people of Uttarakhand where the flooding occurred.


Our approach will differ from traditional disaster relief efforts because instead of sending a large team of Americans to the area to install systems, we will be sending only three Americans to work alongside people stationed in India who have already been trained by WaterStep.

We have worked in North East India for almost a decade, specifically in the region of Meghalaya, and have a team of people trained to install and maintain an M-100 chlorine generator.

After the initial flooding, WaterStep was contacted by Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) in India who asked us to help them get clean water to those in need. They connected us with the Himalayan Paryawaran Shiksha Sansthan (HPSS) who are partners with OXFAM.

We will be sending five chlorine generators to Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand and mobilizing people to set up water treatment systems for the evacuees. The evacuees include locals, tourists, and pilgrims that were journeying for Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to holy temples in the state.

Those who are already trained will be able to train others, and our distance learning program will allow us to further educate people on how to install and maintain an M-100 chlorine generator through video chatting when necessary.

By empowering locals to install and maintain the systems, we are using a capacity building approach that will allow people and communities to overcome obstacles and maintain solutions to their water problem. Our first step is disaster response, but by including locals, we can take the next step into recovery and rehabilitation, which can then lead to development beyond the initial conditions of the community.

WaterStep’s unique approach increases the potential for sustainability and further development beyond disaster relief.

With your help, we can prepare our team, send M-100 chlorine generators and train locals how to install and maintain our systems. To donate, click here.


Working Together Globally

Different non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders from around the world met at WaterStep to discuss the future for their organizations and how to best work together to overcome obstacles.

Mark Hogg, founder and CEO of WaterStep, said that the meeting was full of new ideas being explored along with shared experiences and challenges. He was encouraged by hearing that many of the leaders were facing similar challenges and were overcoming them in different ways.

Leaders represented Uganda, Kenya, Romania, India, Nepal, the United Kingdom, and Yemen. They work in all different areas of the nonprofit sector, including women’s development, refugee programs, and Muslim charities. With all of the different causes represented, each of them recognized the importance of safe water and how it could impact people all over the world.

NGO leaders

Moses Aisia is the executive director of Apoolo Na Angor, or Development of Women based in Uganda. Their mission is to facilitate opportunities for communities to advocate for change by providing art education, vocational training and outreach support programs in community-based health care, household agricultural support and continuing education.

During the meeting, Aisia recognized the value of working together with WaterStep. He said, “We work with women, who control the family, and who see the value of water in a home as number one.”

Aisia said that water is a vital problem that desperately needs to be addressed. He encouraged WaterStep to continue to use practical solutions to improve peoples lives. Aisia recognized the power of water to prevent diseases saying, “We cannot keep on treating waterborne diseases.” Instead, providing safe water will act as medicine to those in need.

Aisia and the other leaders are finding ways to work together with WaterStep in the future, and are already in contact with WaterStep about helping to edit and improve our distance learning materials with their insight from their experience in different countries.

By working together and gaining a global perspective, WaterStep is seeking to make a bigger impact and improve the lives of people all around the world.

Carmel,Indiana Brownie troop #1516 collect shoes in their little red wagon

For 3 weeks, the girls of Girl Scout Brownie Troop 1516 from Carmel, Indiana. collected shoes for WaterStep. Weaving through the neighborhoods with their red wagon, the girls have been knocking on doors, sharing the message about the need for safe water, and asking people for their shoes. Their troop leader, Tabitha Hernandez, spear-headed the whole effort, arranging for the shoe drive to count as a Community Service project. At the conclusion of their collections, the girls will each receive an official Girl Scout shoe collection badge. Thus far, Brownie Troop 1516 has collected 8 bags of shoes, and who knows how many people have heard about the need for safe water as a result of their project. What an inspiration!

Also, as a result of the shoe program, Tabitha’s church has decided to get trained at our water school and bring safe water to the communities they sponsor in Haiti.  This is  a perfect example of a success story of how easy collecting shoes can be. What a great story, THANKS CoraLyn for sharing this story with us, way to go Indianapolis WaterStep team and THANKS to troop #1516 for all your hard work.  We hope this encourages others to do a shoe drive for WaterStep!!
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Water Ambassadors Canada

Barry Hart, Chairman of Water Ambassadors Canada visited WaterStep last Thursday. Hart and Water Ambassadors have worked with WaterStep over the last five years, and focus on sending more missions teams out to bring safe water to the world.

water ambassadors

Hart founded Water Ambassadors Canada about 11 years ago. After retiring from teaching high school science, he heard about the world water crisis. He and his wife went to several conferences about water, and on a trip to Guatemala where they dug a well and learned more about the country’s water situation.

They then founded the organization to keep up the work. “I heard the statistics, and they went from my head to my heart,” he said.

Statistics like: 80% of all disease and sickness in the world is caused by inadequate water supply or inadequate sanitation, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, and 6,000 children die every day from illness caused by waterborne diseases, were what drove Hart to take action.

Hart and his team were focusing on drilling wells when they heard about WaterStep and their method of using chlorine generators to clean water. “There were all of these new water technologies developing at the time,” Hart said, “I came to see the chlorinator and realized that with the chlorinator, if you already have water, you don’t have to drill at all.”

This meant more people could have easier and cheaper access to water. Hart quickly decided that WaterStep would be a good partner for Water Ambassadors Canada, who work more as a sending agency, planning and sending people on trips. WaterStep could provide the technology and training for those going on Water Ambassadors’ trips.

Now, Water Ambassadors Canada and WaterStep have an “open door relationship” according to Hart. “Anybody from WaterStep is welcome to join us on our trips, and anyone from our trips can join WaterStep with theirs,” he said.

Hart also sends his teams to training at WaterStep’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky before they go on missions.

Rick Jenner, WaterStep’s Director of Hand Pump Repair, has worked closely with Hart as well, helping train people before they go on missions, and leading missions with Water Ambassadors. Teams can divide into groups that focus on either hand pump repair, or installing chlorine generators.

According to Hart, WaterStep has been a key part of their success as an organization. “Our vitality and diversity is directly due to WaterStep,” he said. “They have continued to welcome us.”

Water Ambassadors Canada will send out another 20 teams on missions this year, and Hart plans to focus on fundraising and keeping things running smoothly from Canada.


The Potential to Help Thousands

In one weekend at WaterStep, a training can have the potential to bring water to thousands of people. The training from June 7-8 was no different.

Director of Training and Trips Claudia Daniels began the meeting by saying that if every person there that day took a water treatment system to an area of the world without clean water, then hundreds of thousands of people would have clean water to drink.

The staggering number was only supported by the number of countries that were represented by the 18 training participants. Around the room, participants had plans to travel all across the world in the future, with hopes of bringing a chlorine generator and their knowledge of health and hygiene with them.

The countries represented included India, Mongolia, Honduras, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Panama.

People from different backgrounds who were motivated by different causes came together to learn how to end the world water crisis. Some were motivated by previous trips to developing countries when they recognized the need for water. Others have family members living in, or adopted from developing countries. Still others came out of curiosity or to better understand the technology of our water treatment systems.

Training is a critical part of WaterStep’s mission. Daniels said, “When we started out, we were trying to fix the problem all on our own, but we realized that we needed more help.” Training allows WaterStep to provide more people with the necessary skills and tools to bring people clean water.

Like one of our participants said, “If you care about people, you have to care about their water.”

Check out our Water Health & Hygiene Training page to find out when our next training is and sign up.


Passport Students Volunteer at WaterStep

Students from all different areas came to WaterStep this week to volunteer through the Passport program.

The students are staying at Broadway Baptist Church in the evenings, where they have bible studies and worship services, as well as social events, like dances and game nights.


However, the main focus of this project is to do missions work, and they decided that WaterStep was a worthy cause to donate their time to.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Monica Hemme showed the group around our building, and made sure they had tasks to work on.

They did some of everything from painting the building outside, to rearranging furniture, to taking inventory.

The students were quick to say that they were enjoying their time with Passport, and working with WaterStep. Daniel Williams, a rising senior, said he wished he could stay even longer than he was.

Their chaperone, Abram Buckner, said that the Passport Missions week is a great experience for students who have a particular desire to do mission work.

The students involved this week ranged from rising 7th graders to seniors, and are from everywhere from Illinois, to North Carolina, and all around Kentucky.

Volunteers, like the Passport students, help WaterStep to be able to achieve our mission of providing training and technology to provide clean water to those in need.

To find out how you can volunteer, or to get more info on bringing a group to WaterStep, check out our Get Involved page.



The Chlorine Generator goes to a Science Fair

John Nolan, a recent graduate of St. Xavier High School, took the task of cleaning water into his own hands. For a science fair, Nolan researched our M-100 chlorinator and tested it to see how it could be even more efficient.


“It was a great experience, and I got to learn about a lot of technology that I hadn’t seen before,” Nolan said.

He tried introducing an aerator to the tube that carries water mixed with chlorine back to the tank, to see if it would increase the surface area of contact between chlorine gas and water. Then he tested to see if a longer tube carrying the mixture of chlorine gas and water could increase the contact time between the water and chlorine gas.

His conclusion was that employing a longer tube after the venturi would improve the efficiency of the chlorine generator because the contact time between water and chlorine lengthens and more chlorine is absorbed. When he increased the tube length by four times its normal size the efficiency increased by 35%.

Nolan presented his findings to the WaterStep staff after winning third place in the engineering category.

Nolan’s father was a part of the team of engineers who worked on the chlorine generator, initially. Nolan met Mark Hogg during his time at the Governor’s Scholar Program and learned more about the efforts and technology that go into WaterStep’s mission.

He decided that a project exploring the efficiency of the chlorine generator would be a good way to learn more about the system.

“This was the first scientific research project that I’ve done,” Nolan said.

Nolan was attracted to WaterStep because of the sustainability of the work that they do. “We are giving them the technology to actually repair problems, and the education rather than just resources. That’s what I really like about WaterStep,” he said.

Nolan is volunteering at WaterStep over the summer before he heads to Notre Dame in the fall.

To find out more about What We Do at WaterStep, or how you can Get Involved, check out our website pages.

Shoe Program Grabs the Attention of New Staff Member

WaterStep’s new Director of Business Development, Michael Raus, connected with us for an interesting reason. He found out about WaterStep through his history and experience with shoes.

Raus grew up in Louisville, and attended Kentucky Country Day High School. He attended American University in Washington D.C., and got a B.S.B.A. in International Business. He graduated from Queens University with an M.B.A. after that.

After college, Raus became owner and president of his family’s general shoe lace company.

When Raus moved back to Kentucky and heard about WaterStep’s Shoes for Water program, his interest was piqued.

“I was groomed to be in the shoe lace industry,” Raus said, “So it is all in the same family of business.”

Raus was immediately interested in how WaterStep used shoes to fund water projects and make a difference in the world.

As Director of Business Development, he will be working on fundraising and expanding our business opportunities. “I like the idea of the micro businesses that I’ll be working on. We’ll be spreading our base to other areas to raise money for the WaterStep mission,” Raus said.

Check out or Why Shoes? page to learn more about our Shoes for Water Program.


WaterStep Selected as 1 of 100 Sustainable Solutions in the World

WaterStep is proud to announce that its innovative M-100 Chlorine Generator will be featured in the 2013 Sustainia100 Guide, which identifies 100 of the world’s most impactful and sustainable solutions. The M-100 was selected using the five evaluation criteria: readily available, positive environmental impact, financially viable, improve quality of life and scalability.

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The M-100, which is currently deployed in more than 25 countries around the world including Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Kenya and Uganda, was developed with the help of volunteer engineers from General Electric (GE). The M-100 is a chlorine generator small enough to fit in a carry-on suitcase, 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.

The World Health Organization states that more than 3.4 million people die as a result of waterborne disease every year, making it the leading cause of death around the world. The majority of victims are young children under the age of five.

“We knew when we were developing the M-100 that it had great impact potential in terms of its ability to save lives,” says Mark Hogg, Founder and CEO of WaterStep. “To be selected among thousands of humanitarian-focused solutions as one of only a handful that will included in the 2013 Sustainia100 Guide makes us extra proud and gives us tremendous credibility.”

“Congratulations to the selected 100 solutions,” states Erik Rasmussen, Founder of Sustainia. “They are true action heroes of sustainability. In each of their fields, these solutions have proved that sustainable alternatives are not only available, but also attractive, competitive and successful. Each and every solution gives us hope for a faster transformation to a sustainable future.”

From Canada to Kenya, Guatemala to the Philippines, Sustainia100 presents the 100 most innovative and impactful solutions out of 500+ nominated projects and technologies. Overall, Sustainia100 maps sustainable solutions successfully deployed in 128 countries. Sustainia100 is a tool for investors, business leaders, decision makers and consumers as it provides insights to the most promising solutions at the forefront of sustainable transformation. Sustainia100 covers innovative solutions in 10 defined sectors: Education, Energy, Health, Smart Cities, Resources, Buildings, Food, Fashion, Transportation and Information Technology. To view the Sustainia100 Fact Sheet, click here.

As a selected Sustainia100 solution, the M-100 also enters the field of nominees for the international sustainability award, Sustainia Award, chaired by former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The winner of the Sustainia Award will be announced at a ceremony in Copenhagen on November 7, 2013.

To learn more about WaterStep, check out our What We Do page, and read the Sustainia100 guide here.

WaterStep Ambassador Awarded President’s Award

Natalie Hymer, ambassador for WaterStep, was awarded the President’s Award from Georgetown College for academic achievement, leadership, service, and potential as a scholar and Christian leader.


This is Hymer’s fourth summer working at WaterStep. She has worked as an intern, managed mission sites, and is currently planning a trip to Daréin, Panama for WaterStep with Tori Shover, who also went to Georgetown College.

According to Hymer, she received the award based on her leadership skills, which were developed at WaterStep. “I’ve had lots of leadership positions at school, but WaterStep was the greatest challenge to my leadership,” she said.

Working on mission sites, she had to convey to people why their jobs mattered. “I had to relay to youth that pulling weeds, or hammering nails would help them change the world,” she said.

Hymer said, “A lot of my character has been built here.” Now, in return for the impact WaterStep has made on her, she is investing in it by planning and taking a trip to Panama.

“The network in Panama is ripe for us to create a strong group of leaders,” Hymer said. “We will be installing 5-10 generators, but that is not our main mission. We want to train and empower interested folks to be able to take over the job of water purification.”

One of WaterStep’s main missions is to train trainers, and that is just what Hymer is looking to do in Panama.

Hymer and her team will be working with the Foundation for the Children of Daréin. They currently have 144 community centers, and 104 of those have bad water.

“We want to train a Panama team to complete the task of installing systems in these community centers, and empower them to raise funds to buy their own chlorine generators,” she said.

Brian Barnes has been working in Panama to establish relationships, and bring clean water to the communities. He has helped install three systems already, and helped Hymer connect with the Quality Learning University, who has offered them space to work from.

“There are a lot of people investing in this, and we’re ready,” Hymer said.

Hymer and Shover plan to leave the second week of June and stay until the first week of August.

To learn more about how you can get involved with WaterStep, check out our Get Involved page.