Water Ecuador 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

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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.

New Direction

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.

Key Points:

  • 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

Social Media

  • 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

Financials

  • 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

Research

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

Next Steps

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

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