Rotarian clean-water project under way

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Rotary International lived up to its name as clubs in Nicaragua and Colorado joined forces on a project installing filters that provide clean drinking water in about 260 homes in rural areas in the mountains of Nicaragua.

The project was suggested by the Rotary Club in Somoto, Nicaragua, because they wanted to bring clean, safe drinking water to families in the rural area. The Nicaraguans talked about the project to Bob Moore, a member of the Littleton Rotary Club and other area Rotarians who brought the request back to their clubs.

“We looked into the filter project and decided to try to work with the club in Somoto to make the project happen,” the Littleton Rotary Club member said. “Money was needed to build the filters so our club, the Littleton Sunrise Rotary Club and the Aurora Gateway Rotary Club raised about $8,000. We then sent a successful request for additional financial support to the district and to Rotary International, which increased the total project funding to about $21,000.”

Moore recently returned from two weeks in Nicaragua, where working with Somoto Rotarians, local workers were hired and trained to manufacture the tanks for the filters systems.

“We first went to southern Nicaragua and met with filter creator Dennis St. John to learn how his team created the system tanks,” Moore said. “Then we went to Somoto, a city in the mountains of Nicaragua where we worked along with the four people we hired to start building the filter tanks.”

The system is needed because safe drinking water is not available in most mountain villages so families get water from streams or rivers. In all cases, stream and river water contains intestinal parasites causing stomach irritation and other health problems. A solution is the sand filter system.

The filter system is a plastic tank filled with 2 inches of course gravel, 2 inches of pea gravel and then filled with special volcanic black sand. The filter is immediately makes stream water safe to drink. But it takes about two weeks to create the bacteria layer that helps purify the water so it as clean and safe as most municipal water supplies in the United States. When the filter system is completed, it will yield 12 to 15 gallons of clean water a day. The sand and gravel material usually lasts about 18 months.

Moore said the original plan for the recent trip was to hire and train a crew in Somoto to build the filter tanks. A member of the Somoto club was to select the rural homes to receive the filters. Unfortunately, a glitch prevented completion of the filter tanks.

“We bought all the 10-inch plastic water pipe in the country,” he said. “However, there was no flat water-pipe plastic material needed for the bottom of the tank in Nicaragua,” he said. “So, we had to order it from the United States. It is supposed to be delivered this week so the team can complete the tanks and begin the installations.”

He said the Somoto Rotarians have selected about 260 homes where the filters will be installed. All the homes are in remote mountain areas with no access to clean, safe drinking water. He added that the word about the filters delivering clean, safe drinking water is out and now there is a waiting list of about 300 additional homes that would like to have the filters.

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