: Community Water Center

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Just Comments

By Project Well Posted on Tue 03 Apr 2012, over 9 years ago

I agree with Rick’s comments. Thanks for dealing with such issues. I would like to share a few so that similar mistakes are not repeated elsewhere.

1. Cost & Maintenance - According to 2010 census the population of Plainview is 945 and they spent 2.3 million for a new well and distribution system and the population of Alpaugh is 1026 and the community received 4 million from the government to upgrade an existing system. Wow! That’s a lot of money to provide water to small communities and that’s how it is in developed countries as in San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis village in Northern Chile the government spent 10 million pesos (US$20,000) to provide arsenic safe water by installing a arsenic removal plant to a little more than 1000 people. Unfortunately during our visit, few years back, the transformer had a short circuit/blown and the community was back to bottled water that was being trucked from Calama, the nearest port city, which was an hour drive.

2. Arsenic Removal Filter, ARPs – In Sonoma county, arsenic is present in the deep tubwells that are >200 feet deep and we saw families using private arsenic removal filters, worth as high as $5000 of Culligan brand. The astonishing fact was that the users did not know that the sediment cartridge or candle was highly toxic that was supposed to be disposed properly. They discarded the used cartridges in the open fields or ditches. The rain water flowing down the creeks carried traces of arsenic along with other dissolved pesticides and the water was being used by horses and other farm animals.

My concerns are: 1) transfer of pollution from one medium to another,

2) Studies show that filters work properly amongst the people who fall in the upper economic status because maintenance is costly.

3) Education on maintenance and follow up visits are essential that costs a lot unless low cost methods are used.

Best Wishes

Project Budgets

By Water For The Americas Posted on Mon 19 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Can you supply a representative budget of one of your projects? What are the administrative costs?

Project Budgets

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

6. Q. Can you supply a representative budget of one of your projects? What are the administrative costs?

Our overhead costs have been anywhere from 10-13% of our budget from year to year. In grants we tend to ask for 15% for overhead costs to help cover things like insurance and tax reporting and auditing that are hard to get covered through funding sources but necessary to ensure accountability and transparency.

For our project proposal to help support interim solutions through PWX we are asking for the following for our budget:
staff time $27,591
travel $1,400
materials 200
filters $66,000
water testing $5,000

PWX process

By Blue Planet Network Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Dear Laurel,

Thank you for responding to all the queries above. This is the PWX process where members share and learn and question.

We have invited CWC before to be members, and for some reasons, things have not worked out. This time there is a big carrot! :)

However, looking past the carrot, we need members who share their experiences (esp. hurdles and failures) and use the network to learn, adapt, and share. I hope CWC believes in collaboration - even though it seems that its more work.

Also, in your staff who else is eager to jump in on our platform? To use features like SMS reporting? To manage projects better (including historic ones that can be put on PWX to increase exposure and sharing? And to participate in peer reviews of other members and applications?

Thanks,
Rajesh

PWX process

By Community Water Center Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Hi Rajesh,
Yes we have been meaning to get involved with this community for a long time! We genuinely are very interested to learn more from everyone that has been doing this in other areas. I think we can all learn a lot from each other in terms of different approaches, best practices, etc. And I think it is important that we make more connections with safe drinking water advocates in the US and those working in other countries.

It does help to actually have potential funding sources for this kind of work in the US as a kick to finally get us plugged in. But we do appreciate having a community of drinking water experts that we are immediately plugged into as a real value well. We have really focused on developing local and state-wide solutions and flushing out our lessons learned and models, but we are at a good time in our own organizational growth and development to be able to take advantage more of what Peer Exchange has to offer and be able to give more as well. As you said, collaboration is more work but also yields far more powerful results.

That said, this is a new model of funding and collaboration for us so we are still trying to figure it out. I am not sure how to allow other users other than me within our organization, but we will work on all that. Maybe we could have an orientation on how to get set up internally to take advantage of everything.

Thanks!

Documents for this site

By Water For The Americas Posted on Tue 27 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

It would be nice to have a map of Tulare County that shows the locations of the communities. I did look up Alpaugh using Google, but it would be so much easier to have the map on this site. Also a couple of the reports that are attached to the description of the communities would be nice.

I did like the history of the community on the spread sheet and it would be great to see more of them on this site.

To have some of these examples on this site makes it so much easier to review what you have done.

Alan

Documents for this site

By Community Water Center Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Yes, I am not sure how to use this site well since we are new to it. But here are some links to the maps
http://www.communitywatercenter.org/water-valley.php?content=The+Problem

and community stories
http://www.communitywatercenter.org/water-valley.php?content=The+Solutions

We would love some help from some of the technical folks on how to integrate things into this site better.
Thanks!
Laurel

Some questions and a comment about the service cost in the US

By Team Blue Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

From your profile: CWC is a community-based, environmental justice organization based in the San Joaquin Valley, whose goal is to ensure that California’s most vulnerable communities have access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water. We believe that clean water is a human right, and safe, clean and affordable water can and must be a reality for all communities

That shouldn’t mean that the water should be free to the consumers. Water Consumers should pay at least some base level amount for water services, including water consumption, operation and maintenance fees. Otherwise, people will place little value on water and it will very likely be wasted. Also, who will pay for operation, maintenance and repairs? There should be at least some modest financial contribution required to help ensure financial sustainability.

The Center employs three primary strategies in order to accomplish our goals:

1) educate, organize and provide legal and technical assistance to low-income communities of color facing local water challenges;

What kind of legal assistance does this refer to?

You also state: The Community Water Center provides direct organizing, education and legal assistance what sort of assistance?, technical, organizational, financial (from whom?) to low-income, ...

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Also note that the per capita cost of water provision in California (especially in the more remote areas) is likely going to be much higher than would normally be the case in developing countries. So if one of your project goals is to maximize the number of people having access to good quality water on a regular basis, you may want to reconsider your goals in this project because of the much higher per capita cost of services in the US, versus the cost in developing countries. In particular, you would get a much bigger bang for PWX financing bucks for water (and sanitation) facilities sites.

By the way, I have a particular sympathy for the administrative aspects of water provision and its inequities, having felt it first hand. Way back in 1974 I bought a small ten-acre olive farm in Corning California that had an irrigation water tap on the corner of our property, a very important aspect of the property value. By the way, there was not one dollar of subsidy for our system.

After we finished what we thought were all the financial ad legal arrangements, we rented a backhoe and dug all the trenches ourselves, and laid the pipe. Then we went over to the Corning Water Administration office to pay our taxes and get our water tap opened. We gave them all the administrative documents, and went to pay for the formal opening of the tap. However, the local water administration office then informed us that it was too bad, because we could not access our water because there was a big drought that year, and the only farmers who could access the already agreed upon amount of water were those who had used water the previous year. So we had not a drop of water for our field. To top it all off, the sleazebag administrators who refused to give us our legally accessible water source were growing rice, the crop that required the greatest amount of water demand.

Rick

Some questions and a comment about the service cost in the US

By Community Water Center Posted on Thu 29 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Yes, we do not believe that safe drinking water is free, but we do believe it should be affordable.

On the technical assistance, we have attorneys on staff and have done some legal assistance both to community led water providers and community groups. Specifically, we have developed contracts and written rate policies, tax exemption and incorporation documentation, helped acquire options agreements in land for new wells, and represented them in administrative and court hearings. We have also filed some suits on behalf of impacted communities to get laws enforced to protect water quality, although that is rare and we generally have co-counsel. We also help boards and community groups understand documents, funding programs, water quality reports, and budget processes to help them figure out what questions to ask and make sure they are able to move forward with projects. We do not have engineering expertise, but we do connect communities to engineers and other pro-bono technical assistance providers.

On the cost issue, it is true, solutions here cost more per capita than abroad for many reasons. We need to ensure that the government money already being put into infrastructure funding is actually reaching communities that need it most, and that takes some leveraging of outside funds to make happen. So we can leverage a little funding to access a lot more here in the US through other government programs.

Questions about your projects

By Team Blue Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

• Cutler-Orosi: The community group Vecinos Unidos not only forced the rescission?? of an unconstitutional ordinance discriminating against extended families – with literally 200 residents participating at local water board meetings and press conferences – but have pushed for language access policies that allow the mostly Spanish-speaking community to effectively participate in board meetings.


If I were you, I would stay away from financing water / sanitation systems who have such complexities. Stick with providing basic water supply and sanitation. When politics and lawyers enter the situation, PWX financing is much more likely to be sucked away rapidly.

• East Orosi: The community group Vecinos Unidos forced the East Orosi Community Services District to hold public meetings for the first time in over a year and apply for half a million dollars in grants to reduce illegal nitrate levels and secure safe water.>/i>

To maximize the positive impact of water (and sanitation) funding through the PWX system, don’t spend your money on systems with complex problems. Instead, focus on the systems that are most likely to be able to provide basic water supply and sanitation services so as to maximize the number of beneficiaries.

• Monson: Residents in Monson have come together to address the high levels of nitrates STAY AWAY FROM THIS in their private wells.

• Seville: After almost 6 months of negotiations, HOW MANY DOLLARS OF LEGAL FEES WERE SPENT FOR THIS? Seville residents successfully convinced the County of Tulare to temporarily take over their water system and apply for over $1million in grants to upgrade the distribution system and secure a new safe source. 


• Tonyville: After nearly a decade of receiving nitrate-contaminated water three months out of the year, Tonyville families created the grassroots group, La Voz de Tonyville, and convinced the state to issue a compliance order requiring the water provider to deliver potable water year-round. 
SEE ABOVE

• Tooleville: The community-based, Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association secured emergency funding to fix a broken well during the sweltering summer heat and secured funding to develop a permanent safe source. 
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A USEFUL EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS. IN GENERA, TRY TO FOCUS PWX FINANCING ON PROBLEMS THAT CAN BE REASONABLY EASY TO RESOLVE AT A REASONABLE COST. STAY AWAY FROM THE BIG AND COSTLY SYSTEMS.

Since 2006, CWC has built community power to develop community-driven water solutions and address the root causes of unsafe drinking water. Over the past five years, CWC has trained over 500 residents from at least 33 communities in the San Joaquin Valley to address specific drinking water challenges locally and to advocate for clean and affordable drinking water for the San Joaquin Valley region. CWC coordinates monthly meetings of the AGUA coalition, which includes representatives from 17 local communities and youth, as well as a number of partner nonprofits, focused on securing safe and affordable drinking water. Our public education efforts have reached tens of thousands of people through hundreds of media stories, various workshops, tours, presentations, meetings, and other types of public education and outreach events. THIS IS THE SORT OF LOW COST APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY LEVEL PROBLEMS THAT OFTEN CAN BE RESOLVED AT LOW COST, WITHOUT LEGAL FEES, AND WITH SUBSTANTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE PROPOSED BENEFICIARIES.

All for now from me,
Rick

Questions about your projects

By Community Water Center Posted on Thu 29 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Thanks Rick, we don't charge legal fees to the community and are a non-profit so are able to keep costs extremely low for legal work. However, these legal and institutional problems are just as real in terms of barriers to accessing safe drinking water as infrastructure problems are. And there are generally much less funding and resources available to address them.

Welcome!

By Global Women's Water Initiative Posted on Tue 20 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Hello and welcome

First, I wanted to say how happy I am to see more US based water orgs showing up on PWX. This is a global issue and no area is unaffected.

I want to echo some of the questions above. What would like to get out of being a member of PWX?

Where do you see your work is similar to the WASH work being done in developing countries. What's different?

I'm excited to have such a different perspective join the conversation.

Be well
Gemma

Welcome!

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

A.1. We are excited to have the opportunity to raise awareness about the water quality issues in the U.S. We look forward to gaining knowledge, ideas and resources from people that are working on this issue around the world.

A. 2. Our work is similar in that water quality is a high level of concern in some areas of the Central Valley, as it is in developing countries. It is often a shock to people to hear that there are areas in the United States where you can not drink out of the tap without fear of becoming ill from consuming water that is contaminated with Nitrate, Arsenic, TCP 123 among others. Another similarity is that we too find the highest areas of contamination happening in the areas with highest level of poverty.
Our work is different because we are not faced with the “Hygiene” portion of WASH work on the same scale as faced in developing countries.
Another difference is that the drinking water world is highly regulated in the US and therefore projects tend to be extremely expensive to implement and have to have many layers of technical review and reports before they can be funded or approved. However, there are sources of funding in the US for drinking water that should be going to address these issues, they just tend to pass by the communities that need it most and go to those communities with more financial resources to pay grantwriters and engineers.

Welcome!

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

A.1. We are excited to have the opportunity to raise awareness about the water quality issues in the U.S. We look forward to gaining knowledge, ideas and resources from people that are working on this issue around the world.

A. 2. Our work is similar in that water quality is a high level of concern in some areas of the Central Valley, as it is in developing countries. It is often a shock to people to hear that there are areas in the United States where you can not drink out of the tap without fear of becoming ill from consuming water that is contaminated with Nitrate, Arsenic, TCP 123 among others. Another similarity is that we too find the highest areas of contamination happening in the areas with highest level of poverty.
Our work is different because we are not faced with the “Hygiene” portion of WASH work on the same scale as faced in developing countries.
Another difference is that the drinking water world is highly regulated in the US and therefore projects tend to be extremely expensive to implement and have to have many layers of technical review and reports before they can be funded or approved. However, there are sources of funding in the US for drinking water that should be going to address these issues, they just tend to pass by the communities that need it most and go to those communities with more financial resources to pay grantwriters and engineers.

Project Results

By Water For The Americas Posted on Mon 19 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

It looks like you have been very successful in your advocacy. Can you post some final reports, water testing results after implementing, improved health studies due to projects, etc.?

Project Results

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

A. Because our past projects have primarily focused on development of community capacity and long-term solutions that take years to development and implement, we only have worked with a few communities that have been able to fully implement a project to secure a long-term source of safe drinking water. One community is Plainview, which was able to secure funding for a new well and all new distribution system. That community went from having nitrate and DBCP over the legal limit to levels that are far better than the legal limit. It also meant that much less water was lost to leaks and addressed the bacteria problem the system had been having.

We do not know of any health studies that have been done in the area that could point to the impact of new sources of safe water, however that is something we have been advocating to have done in the region.

One report that was done based on our work was CWC's "Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy”. This resource brings CWC’s expertise, tools, and experiences to all communities struggling for water justice. Resources include: Answers to commonly asked questions, a Legal Reference Guide to California, a Community Health Guide, and Community-organizing stories. The guide is available both English & Spanish. You can also read about specific community success stories on our website www.communitywatercenter.org

Project Results

By Water For The Americas Posted on Tue 27 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Thanks for your comments. I have looked at your web site and am interested in getting a copy of your "Guide".

Project Results

By Community Water Center Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

We'd be happy to send you a Guide. You can download a copy for free from our website at http://www.communitywatercenter.org/downloads.cfm?content=Tools

We can send you a hard copy in English or Spanish or both or a DVD. We generally ask for a donation for hard copies so we can be sure to be able to print more for community members, but would be happy to send you one either way. Just send us your info and what you would like. We want it to be useful and have as many people have copies as are interested.

Help from PWX

By Water For The Americas Posted on Mon 19 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

What type of project would you be looking to fund via Peer Water Exchange?

Help from PWX

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Through our work with communities on the ground we have found that there are four components that must be addressed in order to ensure that communities can realize and sustain safe, clean and affordable drinking water for domestic use:

1) Source Water Protection: protection of water resources (surface water and/or groundwater) both from contamination and from excessive depletion.

2) Physical Infrastructure: adequate wells, pipes, treatment facilities, etc., as well as the funding needed to construct them.

3) Institutional Capacity: technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) capacity of the water service provider to operate and maintain the water system safely and affordably (i.e., effectively). This includes the ability to conduct planning studies for upgrades, to apply for funding assistance, to develop rate structures and other governing policies, and also the ability to collect sufficient revenue to to cover the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance. (As a general rule, TMF increases with greater economies of scale and is therefore the greatest challenge in small water systems in disadvantaged communities.)

4) Empowered Communities: the power of community residents (especially residents from disadvantaged communities) to influence water policy decisions and to hold decision makers accountable. CWC believes this is not only the most challenging component to achieve, but also the most vital, because it is critical to achieving the other three components in the first place, and it is critical to ensuring that positive changes are sustained in the long run.

Community Water Center believes that any solution must be able to address all four components in order to be sustainable.

We also recognize that many of these solutions take many years to develop and implement, and low-income communities without safe water need a safe, reliable and affordable interim source of water to use while a long-term solution is developed. CWC co-authored a study and found that most residents without safe drinking water were spending at least 3 times what is considered affordable for alternative sources drinking water, and almost none of them were using certified treatment devices. Additionally, a large percentage were still consuming contaminated water even after spending a larger percent of the household income on purchasing alternative sources.

While we have made a lot of progress helping to develop long-term solutions for communities, there is very little funding for interim solutions necessary to keep families safe in the years that it take to implement.

This project would focus on piloting different models of interim solutions and making them more accessible and available to communities.

Program Details
CWC will pilot two types of interim solutions for 4-6 different communities:
1) Under-the-sink reverse osmosis units for individual households with nitrate or arsenic contamination.
2) High-volume vending filtration system for communities and schools with nitrate or arsenic contamination.
The project will include extensive, outreach and community education, technical assistance and community advocacy support, and evaluation and documentation to ensure that what we learn from these communities can be shared and the best practices replicated in many others in the future.

We will provide more details in the full project proposal.

Help from PWX

By Water For The Americas Posted on Tue 27 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Thanks for the response. I agree with your fourth point and your comment about the time it takes to get the change you are looking for.

Help from PWX

By Community Water Center Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

So true. Would love to learn more about what you all do in terms of technical assistance and organizing/capacity building.

Review Questions from Drink Local. Drink Tap.

By Drink Local. Drink Tap. Posted on Sun 18 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Hello,
Q.
I was wondering what your decision process is to prioritize designing and funding your projects? Is it the "dirtiest water"? Where the most political support exists/doesn't exist? Funding?
Q
What project would the funds from BPN be for?
Q
It seems hispanic people are the focus and drinking water safety/affordability are critical-but what about other minorities in the areas you work? Asian? Indian? Native American? Is there any other ethnic focus?
Q
Does a neighborhood/community normally come to you or do you seek out specific areas/residents?

Review Questions from Drink Local. Drink Tap.

By Community Water Center Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

A. 1. Our work is concentrated in communities and schools that currently are not meeting basic safe drinking water standards and that do not have the resources to fund short or long term solutions. Those communities are almost entirely small, low income communities of color. Within those communities, CWC prioritizes those communities with which we already have begun to develop relationships or have established relationships so that we can build long-term leadership around drinking water issues in these communities. We also try to leverage partnerships with other organizations and community leaders to allow funds and our staff time to go further than it otherwise would.

A. 2. We would be helping local schools and communities secure a "safe, reliable, and affordable interim source of water" through the use of a centralized "point of use" or "point of entry" filtration system that can be used by both the school and community while continuing to work with the community and local public water system to ensure they are able to obtain State and/or Federal funding to address their drinking water challenges through consolidation with a neighboring community or drill of a new well.

A. 3. CWC does primarily work with Latino communities because California Central Valley small rural water systems consists of primarily Latino, farm working families. Hispanics account for more than half of the valleys populations and studies have shown that Latino, farm worker families, and renters are disproportionately impacted by contaminated water issues. CWC has and does, however, work with non-latino residents in these communities, including Native American, African American, and Filipino, to name a few.

A. 4. The answer is that both scenarios are true. Sometimes the community comes to us when they become aware of our history and past successes. They know that we are the only center in the valley rooted primarily in communities. In the past, we’ve chosen to work in certain areas due to known severe problems or the relationships that are already established in a community as well.

Review Questions from Drink Local. Drink Tap.

By Drink Local. Drink Tap. Posted on Mon 26 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Thank you for your response! Your approach is responsible and admirable. Thank you for all you do. Good luck in your approach for funding!
Erin Huber, Executive Director
www.drinklocaldrinktap.org

Review Questions from Drink Local. Drink Tap.

By Community Water Center Posted on Wed 28 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

Thanks! It is really interesting to learn about organizations like yours too. It is amazing how much the world is the same on some basic level and water is such a uniting force. Of course every community and country and organization is different, but does seem like united we can learn a lot from each other and be stronger in all our efforts. Thanks for all your work and for the words of encouragement!

Review Questions from Drink Local. Drink Tap.

By Drink Local. Drink Tap. Posted on Thu 29 Mar 2012, over 9 years ago

You as well!


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