Empowering communities to secure safe drinking water for themselves, and promoting and distributing water purification technologies to other non-profit organizations.
Agua Pura Para El Pueblo is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization founded to help communities and families obtain safe, clean drinking water and improve their sanitation. Over one billion people world wide lack access to safe water, and a million children die each year due to preventable diarrheal diseases. With a focus on Latin America, we promote simple small scale methods and techniques that people can use to make their water safe to drink. We also give seminars and demonstrations both in the United States and in Latin America to other nongovernmental organizations and to community groups on methods of water purification.
We also train professionals and others in simple methods to test water for bacterial contamination, the most common cause of water borne disease. Currently, in many parts of the world accurate water testing is rarely done due to the cost and complexity of testing procedures. Now, newer simpler and less expensive methods are available, methods that can be easily adapted to different cultures and situations. Agua Pura gives workshops in these procedures and provides testing materials to participants.
The focus of our organization is on small scale methods and techniques that individual families can adopt at little expense. Larger community based water and sanitation systems inevitably are more complex, cost more per person to build and maintain, are less efficient, are dependent on outside resources and are often unobtainable in the short term. Small scale water conservation, water recycling, water purification and sanitation programs on the other hand are simpler, faster, cheaper and can be implemented without need for outside resources or funding.
We at Agua Pura Para El Pueblo believe in and promote sustainability in all our projects. Too often, well meaning projects are done that lack a long term plan for continued use and support. This is waste of resources and good will when projects are abandoned after a short period. We believe that planning with communities in advance of projects and seeking their input and participation before beginning helps insure that programs will continue after the project is completed. Often, micro-loans and small for-profit enterprises can help secure local commitment. Projects should be frequently reevaluated to see if they are meeting their goals and also meeting the needs of the people they serve.
Agua Pura Para El Pueblo does not normally sponsor work projects with teams of volunteers. Our plan is to work with other nonprofit organizations to train others in these procedures and methods so that they in turn can teach local families and communities. Where resources are available, Agua Pura has given workshops in local communities to demonstrate methods of water disinfection and sanitation.
From Tom Carter, Founder of Agua Pura Para El Pueblo:
I have been involved with public health and sanitation issues for almost 50 years since I was an early Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in 1963. The community I lived in had no clean water or sanitation and so the Peace Corps helped build latrines there. Unfortunately there was very little community participation or planning about how the latrines were to be built or maintained, and it was only a few days till the latrines were a disgusting mess and had to be torn down and filled in. That experience has stayed with me ever since, that good intentions and personal effort are not enough without community involvement and cooperation. Since those days I've had a stretch as an Army medic and a long career working in medical laboratories and am now retired, but I still maintain my interest in public health and sanitation issues.
In the past few years I have participated in several different projects, mostly in Mexico, including sanitation, water conservation and clean water programs. Rather than larger scale programs, I've focused on simple ways families can help themselves have healthier lives. These include roof gutters and storage tanks to collect rain water, hand washing facilities in schools and homes to prevent illnesses, and better, more sanitary composting latrines for families.
Recently I have focused on methods to test drinking water for fecal contamination. Previously water testing has been complicated, expensive and time consuming, but new methods developed for the food processing industry have made it much simpler and cheaper and allow people to test their own water for safety. Once people have tested their drinking water and found it to be contaminated, there are numerous inexpensive ways that they can use to treat their water to make it safe to drink. My current work has been to teach these testing methods and procedures to interested parties such as other NGO organizations and community members.
I'm not associated directly with any other organization or corporation but I support various methods I think are useful and practical. I volunteer my time to this work and all my personal expenses including travel are donated at no cost to Agua Pura Para El Pueblo I have written a blog about some of my more recent projects. You can read it at: watertestingtom.blogspot.com
Board of Directors
Tom Carter - Board Chair
Mike Cianci – Board Member Mike Cianci is a Medical Technologist with degrees in both Medical Technology and Information Management. Over the last 15 years he has served as project manager on volunteer projects in Mexico, Bolivia and Thailand, which resulted in the construction of classrooms, a school and a church. Most recently he was part of a volunteer medical team that traveled to Zambia, where along with participating in the medical clinics he distributed and instructed the local population in the use of WAPI’s (Water Pasteurization Indicators)
Carole Douglass – Board Member
Nikki Gillis- Board Member
Jinx Kuehn – Treasurer Jinx Kuehn is a water and sanitation engineer working for a water agency in the area. She has extensive experience in water quality engineering, and low impact technologies for rainwater management. In the past she has supported community groups with interests in small scale organic farming in the US, and latino/hispanic community concerns.
Peter Schmidt– Secretary
Bill Pressly – Board Member
Kate Solis – Board Member Kate Solis brings a background in fund raising for nonprofits. She has also participated in several volunteer projects in Latin America with different non-profit groups.
Mary Ann Westfall - Board Member
Tom Carter - Founder and Executive Director
Eric Vines – Advisor
We are proud to work with people of all backgrounds, and believe our advocacy and our communities are stronger when everyone is included.
Agua Pura Para El Pueblo does not discriminate on the basis of race, political orientation, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, or mental or physical disability, or any other status prohibited by applicable law, in its staff, board, volunteers, volunteer committees, or provision of services.
Further, Agua Pura does not permit its services, materials or donations to be used by groups or entities that discriminate on the basis of race, political orientation, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, or mental or physical disability or any other status prohibited by applicable law.