Continued compassion and concern for Haitian’s enduring the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, combined with the heart to help and innovative water purification technology developed in Florida, birthed Rotary District 6960’s drinking water project for Haiti. It started with a discussion between Rotarian David Dignam of the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club in Englewood, Florida and Don Thomas, Governor of District 6960. David had been introduced to the solar powered mobile purification units and their capability by a friend in Englewood, Florida that works with Water One World Solutions, the nonprofit offshoot of Water One, Inc., a forty-year-old, family run water purification company that manufactures the units in Fort Myers, Florida. Convinced that the units had the potential to significantly improve the situation in Haiti by producing pure, clean, cholera free water, David arranged a demonstration for Governor Thomas.
After seeing the demonstration of the solar powered unit and subsequently reviewing the independent testing data that supports its effectiveness in eliminating bacteria, cysts and viruses (including cholera) from contaminated water sources, Governor Thomas was also convinced. Drawing on his experience in Haiti, and discussions with members of the Southwest Florida Haitian community, Governor Thomas helped shaped a sustainable protocol for the program, designed to address the realities of the situation on the ground in Haiti.
The Water One WS-12M mobile purification wagons are self-contained, lightweight, easy to move, water purification systems capable of producing a continuous supply of water at a rate of three gallons per minute. The units are simple to operate, require no assembly, and produce clear, safe drinking water within minutes of arrival from almost any surface water source, well, cistern or tank. Rotary District 6960’s program will place these smaller units in controlled environments in Haiti such as orphanages, schools, and mobile hospitals. The units will come equipped with a supply of replacement media and filters to provide a year’s supply of drinking water for up to 200 children and adults.
The cost for each unit with everything required to produce 144,000 gallons of drinking water is $12,000 for the first year and $5400 for each year after. The same amount of bottled water produced by one of these units over a year would cost at least $158,000 not including transportation or the cost to the environment. The program will be funded by the Rotary Clubs of District 6960, in cooperation with Rotary Clubs in Haiti through District participation in Rotary International’s matching grant program.
Longer-term, Governor Thomas hopes other relief organizations and other Rotary Districts will come to see the uniqueness and effectiveness of these systems and lead to the placement of larger trailer units that employ the same technology. Water One’s larger water purification systems can produce as much as 20,000 gallons per day at less then one cent per gallon.
Rotary District 6960’s water project for Haiti kicked off on January 21, 2011 with a demonstration of the solar powered water purification wagon and presentation of the program to members of the Cape Coral Gold Coast Rotary Club, Governor Thomas’s home Club. As part of the presentation and to initiate the program, Water One donated the first solar powered unit destined for an orphanage in Haiti to District 6960.