Three families living on Hitchcock Road in Milledgeville, Georgia and another resident in Gray, Georgia now have access to safe drinking water in their homes for the first time in over 10 years thanks to the financial assistance of the Water Well Trust. This national non-profit, created by the Water Systems Council, helps low income families that need safe drinking water to get wells.
Recipient Anna Powell and Jones County Assistant Administrator Margie Tyson
For 10 years the community members on Hitchcock Road have been working to get safe drinking water for their families. The county health department determined that their wells were contaminated and unsafe.
These families have been hauling water to use in their homes and buying bottled water for drinking and cooking. This is both a physical and financial burden.
Since 2002 the community, Jones County Commissioners, and the County Administrator have explored the option of extending existing water lines to serve these homes. However, the cost of the expansion and the amount these families would have to pay for hook-up and monthly service were cost-prohibitive for both the county and the residents.
The problem was brought to the attention of the Water Well Trust last year by Water Systems Council member and local well contractor, Jarrell Greene. “I had heard about this situation for some time, lots of talk about contaminated wells,” said Greene. “I knew that the biological quality of the water in our area should pass health department standards and what they needed were new wells. So I spoke with the Water Systems Council and they contacted the Water Well Trust. I like to help people in my county and make things better where I live.”
At the same time Greene was reaching out to the Water Well Trust, he was also talking to Jones County Administrator, Mike Underwood, about the lack of safe drinking water for these residents. Greene put Underwood in contact with the Water Well Trust and the preliminary work began.
Underwood informed the Water Well Trust that the residents may be eligible for some funding for their wells through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and their Community Development Block Grant program.
The federal CDBG program is one that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community needs. Founded in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. The CDBG program provides annual funds to local and state governments, which then allocate these monies to their funding priorities.
Over the next year the Water Well Trust, Georgia DCA, and Jones County collaborated on a plan to finance the construction of new wells for these residents. Through the Water Well Trust, the residents qualified for loans and/or grants to cover the costs of their new wells. The loan portions were financed with CDBG funds from the Georgia DCA through Jones County.
The funding for the grants came from generous contributions to the Water Well Trust by Water Systems Council members and Xylem Watermark. Once financing was in place, drilling began.
One grateful homeowner put it this way “I am so glad to have my water! I wouldn’t have my water if Mr. Greene had not contacted the Water Well Trust. I am so blessed!”
Today there is clean, safe drinking water flowing in these homes. A jubilant resident explains “The new well is tremendous! I don’t have to worry about the water being contaminated. I can take a shower and not worry about running out of water. I don’t worry about the drinking water being safe because it is no longer polluted. It changes everything!”
The work of the Water Well Trust has just begun. It is estimated that there are over 1 million households, or 1.7 million Americans, that have inadequate or no safe water supply. The Water Well Trust is the only national nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated to working on this issue.