Uncategorized Archives - WaterStep

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.


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.




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.



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.

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.