Scottsdale Rotarians work to clean contaminated water in Mexico

Las Minitas villagers gather to learn about the water filters. Rotarian Jim Hann is fifth from left.

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale identified a problem: Children may have access to plentiful food but are malnourished due to contaminated water.

Nearly 5,000 children die every day from a water-related illness — one nearly every 20 seconds.

The club’s international service water projects, led by Rotarians James Hann and Sara Crosby-Hartman, give communities the ability to develop and maintain sustainable water systems and support studies related to water and health.

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale is helping to solve the problem by providing individual home bio-sand filters, which have proven successful in eliminating E.coli and dissolved limestone in well water.

Alamos International Service Project Team meet to plan the installation of water filters in the village of Las MinitasSonoraMexico. Rotary Club of Scottsdale Rotarian Jim Hann is seated third right from water buckets.

The club strives to provide safe potable drinking water for families by installing water filters in Nicaraguan and Mexican homes. The filter components are mostly bought locally and the filters are built and installed by the families that use them.

Material costs from $35 to $50 per filter. The project became available through collaboration of Rotary Clubs in Scottsdale, Nicaragua, and Mexico.

The club’s future goal is to work on community water systems with Rotary Clubs in Sri Lanka.

The club has formed an international service water project team with representatives from Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Alamos is very close to the border between Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

Joining the cooperative Alamos Team to build water filters with the villagers are: Jim Hann from Rotary Club of Scottsdale; Dennis St. John from Rotary Club of Green Valley, Ariz.; Rotarians from Rotary Club of Navojoa Mexico and representatives from the Alamos city government and residents of Alamos.

According to Rotarian Max Rumbaugh, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, became Scottsdale’s first Sister City in 1969. Over the years, delegations from Scottsdale have made yearly visits, taking all manner of useful things to the community from used school desks to old X-ray equipment donated by local hospitals.  The Alamos team water project is an extension of the Scottsdale Sister Cities Association’s long-standing relationship between Scottsdale and Alamos.

The Alamos team reviewed several villages for the initial project and selected Las Minitas as the first village to initiate the project. Las Minitas is 1 1/2-hour drive from Alamos city center.  The village has about 40 families who will benefit from the project.

The water source is a local well with a holding tank for sediment to settle. The water must settle out for three days before it can be used by the villagers.

The primary contaminate is biological contamination.  A local village leader will be the main contact with the villagers and the City of Alamos to handle follow up with all the villagers to ensure the filters are being properly used and maintained.

While on site, Rotarian Jim Hann was able to confirm sand is available, and that the Alamos team will provide transportation of the sand, materials and equipment to Las Minitas.

It was fully understood by everyone that materials for the filters would be purchased in Mexico, the assembly would be done by the local villagers, and the costs of the materials and tools would be provided by the Rotary clubs.

The Alamos team confirmed all 40 families within the village were willing to learn to make and assemble the filters under the instruction of the Rotarians, maintain the filters once assembled, and use the filters properly.

After filters are assembled and in use, the local Alamos team — including Rotary Club of Navojoa Mexico Rotarians — will keep in contact with the village leader and families to ensure filters are being maintained and used properly.

To learn more about Rotary Club of Scottsdale’s projects, programs and membership – see

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