Water Well Trust Partnerships Fulfill Water Well Wishes for Virginia & Illinois Families

A Suffolk, Virginia, family of seven and a Crete, Illinois, family of six are now enjoying a clean supply of running water in their homes thanks to the Water Well Trust and its partnerships with The Chris Long Foundation and the Groundwater Foundation.

The Crawford family of Suffolk, VA, received a new water well thanks to the Hometown H2O program, an extension of The Chris Long Foundation’s Waterboys initiative, in partnership with the Water Well Trust and Xylem Inc.

The Steger Estates (IL) Fire Department had been filling the Saleh family’s temporary water holding tanks for almost a year before the family received a new water well from the Water Well Trust and the Groundwater Foundation. L to R: Marvet Saleh, Khaleel Saleh, SEFD engineer Bill Wheeler, and SEFD firefighter/paramedic Chris Ramirez.

The Virginia project is the first for the Hometown H2O program, an extension of The Chris Long Foundation’s Waterboys initiative and the result of a partnership with the Water Well Trust and Xylem Inc. announced in late 2019.  Working with the Water Well Trust, Hometown H2O funds the drilling of water wells for low-income households that do not have access to water at home or within a reasonable distance.

The Crawford family has four children and one on the way.  They were displaced from their home after their water well failed and they could not afford to drill a new, deeper well. The family asked the Water Well Trust for assistance, and along with Hometown H2O, Xylem and its partners — Noland Supply of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Winsupply and Creason & Sons Well Service, Inc. of Zuni, Virginia — the new water well was completed within a week.

“This family’s situation is not an isolated instance of the water challenges facing many lower-income rural communities in the United States,” said Chris Long, two-time Super Bowl champion and founder and chairman of the Chris Long Foundation. “Addressing domestic water needs is an important next step in our work at Waterboys, which is why we created Hometown H2O. Having our first project in my home state of Virginia is special to me, but it is just the beginning of our U.S. work with the Water Well Trust and Xylem to impact lives through the gift of water.”

Belinda Crawford, who is expecting the birth of a baby boy in March, expressed her family’s gratitude, saying, “These volunteers changed our way of believing. They even changed our expectations of people. They gave us a lot. They’ll always have a place in our hearts.”

The Illinois project kicked off the Water Well Trust’s partnership with the Groundwater Foundation, which donated $100,000 to the Trust in 2019 to drill water wells for low-income families across the U.S.  The Groundwater Foundation, which focuses on local groundwater education and action, merged with the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) in 2018.

On July 4, 2019, the Saleh family’s water stopped flowing due to a broken casing which caused their water well system to be filled with sand. Unable to afford the up-front cost of a new water well, they were forced into costly short-term solutions to provide the family with water.  However, with winter approaching, their short-term solutions would be unworkable.

The Groundwater Foundation, working with the Water Well Trust, assisted the family throughout the entirety of the project, from soliciting bids from well drillers to the final installation of the system.

“I’m so thankful for the partnership between the Groundwater Foundation and Water Well Trust because there is nowhere else I could get a loan for a new well, especially not one I can afford for me and my family,” said Marvet Saleh.

Currently, there are 1.5 million Americans lacking complete plumbing and access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. The Water Well Trust pays for the initial cost of drilling a well and participating families are given a 20-year, 1% interest loan.

“These partnerships provide invaluable new resources for meeting the needs of Americans without access to clean, safe water,” said Water Well Trust program director Margaret Martens. “For them, every day without water is a struggle. Partnerships with Hometown H2O and the Groundwater Foundation are helping us fulfill the promise of a better life for these American families much more quickly.”

The Water Well Trust maintains a wait list of American households requesting funding for the drilling of new wells or rehabilitation of non-functioning wells in high-need, low-resource rural areas. Prospective applicants can download the application form and instruction letter from the Water Well Trust website.

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