Water Ecuador Annual Board Meeting 2015
This is a copy of the notes from Water Ecuador’s 2015 Board Meeting held in Cambridge, Mass. A copy of the presentation can be found here, and meeting notes along with responses to the discussion questions can be found below.
A copy of the New Direction can be found as a blog post on our website.
Increasingly around the world, people in developing countries are turning to bottled water as a primary source of drinking water. A number of studies have shown that these jugs are very contaminated.
- There are few regulations in place currently
- We have an opportunity to make bottled water a higher priority
- Bottled water consumption is higher in developing countries than in developed nation, especially where there is no strong piped water infrastructure
- Bottled water serves as a longer-term solution until a potable piped water solution develops
A social justice message emphasizing equality and regulations will be a key part of our work moving forward.
- Why should kids be drinking water you wouldn’t want your own children to be drinking?
- Raise awareness of the issue
- Long-term goal of establishing a health link more clearly
- We are on a number of platforms including our website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin
- We are focusing our efforts on the platforms that are most impactful
- 26 blog posts this past year
- Growth in website visitors over the past year
- Engaging with other individuals and organizations online
- Created the #DrinkingWaterEquality hashtag to emphasize social justice message
- Linkedin is a newer platform which allows us to connect with a different audience than Facebook and Twitter
- Social media serves as a tool to raise awareness and compliment our fundraising efforts
- For example, promoting our OneToday campaigns
- Almost half of our expenses this past year were in salaries
- Since we have moved toward our new direction, we have been spending more on research and cut down on salary costs
- We will be funding three additional studies through the end of the year as well as maintaining some small costs for the water center in Muisne, Ecuador
- Fundraising was low for much of the year as we were developing our new direction — which we anticipated
- We fundraised $22,300 this year as compared to $52,000 in FY2014
Water Ecuador is running studies across Latin America with the end goal of aggregating data and publishing a paper about bottled water usage and perceptions.
- So far, we have completed two studies (Muisne and Tena, Ecuador)
- Finishing studies in Bolivia and Honduras
- Mexico and Peru studies launched in October
- The research looks at water contamination directly after treatment compared to after-bottling
- So far, we have found that putting the water in the bottles directly increases the level and frequency of contamination
- This is likely due to the biofilms, which are difficult to remove from the bottles
- All of the results thus far seem to confirm what we found in Muisne, roughly as follows:
- 7-9% source contamination (of lower concentrations)
- 80% of the reusable jugs are contaminated
- One of the companies in Honduras seems to have no contamination
- A company like this one could potentially help us identify a bottling solution to expand to other small-scale water vendors
By next year we plan on publishing a research paper using data from all of our studies. Eventually, we hope to focus more on creating an effective bottle cleaning procedure.
- James tested common bottle cleaning methods in Ecuador over the summer
- So far, results support that none of the common methods are particularly effective
- Dish detergent seems to work best
- We are refining procedures for lab based research for a more controlled environment
- We plan on reaching out to other universities to have students replicate the research
- Long term, we hope for about 50% of resources devoted to research and 50% solution-based work