by Jeff Wagner, Coordinator - LWW Appalachian Field Operations

springfields water

Alberta and Clarence Stringfield; with Mike Skytta of LWW

You've probably heard of the plight of people living in developing countries and the struggles they go through to get water. Often they may have to walk six to ten miles to the closest water source and then back again carrying the full containers of water – some weighing 40 – 60 lbs.

Consider, if you will then, that there are communities in the US where water may only be a couple hundred yards away from your home – clean, safe water coursing through a water main and yet, you have no access to it.

That is the dilemma for many families in Appalachia – municipal water may be located 1000 feet away from their home but they simply cannot afford to access it. "How can they afford not to," you may wonder? Utility companies charge connection (tap-on) fees for residents to connect to the municipal water supply and often before the company will even consider running a pipe alongside the road, they must have a minimum number of families who will commit to connecting to the main.

Tap-on fees may exceed $700 if the resident can even have a water line run to the main. Depending on what is between the water main and the house – a road, culvert/ravine, solid bedrock, etc. the cost of accessing safe water can easily run into the thousands of dollars beyond the reach of many families.

Take for example, Alberta and Clarence, both in their 70's, on the same property near Wartburg since being married 55 years ago. They live just outside the water district that serves their area In Morgan County, TN and between their home and the road where a water line would be run if the water district had funds to lay one is a river. The cost of connecting to the water line would exceed their financial resources so for the past few years Alberta and Clarence have carried drinking water in to their house, done laundry in the small creek near their house and have otherwise had to make do as the water in their well had become unusable long ago.

Through a generous grant from Hope through Healing Hands and the efforts of Living waters for the World mission teams from West Emory Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Cookeville, that changed recently. The two churches, installed a clean water system at Clarence and Alberta's home to treat the bacteriological contamination found in their well – now they have water that is safe for drinking, cooking bathing and washing – what a blessing it is to know there are people actively working to bring safe, clean water to people who lack access to it – no matter where they live.