What is Aquality?

The name Aquality is a reflection of our belief that #DrinkingWaterEquality is a fundamental human right, and that drinking water should be equally accessible and safe regardless of your race, gender, socioeconomic or disability status, where you live, or any other personal attribute. Aquality aspires to create a world in which no one is put at a disadvantage due to a lack of convenient and consistent access to safe drinking water.

 

What does “Drinking Water Equality” mean?

Aquality strives toward drinking water equality in order to improve the overall health of the global community. The four key aspects to drinking water equality are equal access, equal quality, equal security, and equal education.

 

How are we working towards Drinking Water Equality?

Water Ecuador is rebranding as “Aquality” to capture our broader scope and the heart of our work, which has always emphasized clean water as a human right. We will continue to focus on meaningful research that establishes and addresses complex problems related to water and health, and the overarching institutional, cultural, and technical challenges that hinder their advancement in underserved communities. The most valuable lesson we have learned in our ten years of operation is that the issues of water, sanitation, and hygiene are exceedingly complicated and hard to solve. We hope to use our resources and expertise to identify and bridge these gaps.

More specifically, we support the improvement of water systems in areas where water equality is far from being a reality. We do this through researching the global water landscape on a number of different levels to identify problems and then developing innovative strategies and technologies to increase access to safe, affordable drinking water. This ranges from analyzing international water markets and regulations, to developing specific water treatment and distribution systems. Our work has reflected this from our history building the first water treatment centers along the Ecuadorian Coast, to our current work looking at how to bottle and distribute drinking water without introducing contamination.

We do both field and lab research and believe that our greatest opportunity lies in working with private water companies, governments, community groups, and NGO’s who can leverage their local resources to ensure that bottled water remains safe all the way up until the point it is consumed. This is a more sustainable approach; it will integrate better with the existing infrastructure and allow communities to improve their own access to safe drinking water. We also look to publish our research and provide education tools to inform water policy and technology decisions in both the public and private sectors, and to advocate for global drinking water equality.

 

What is Aquality currently working on?

We have completed research projects in Ecuador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico that looked at the prevalence of contamination in common sources of commercially available drinking water, the bottling methods used in the distribution of water, and the community perception of the water they drink. We are currently in the process of analyzing and publishing our results, after which we will be better equipped to enter into conversations with private water companies, governments, community groups, NGO’s, and other non-profit organizations better suited to provide support and leverage local resources to affect change.

The preliminary findings of our research show that the vast majority of bottled water companies have difficulty sanitizing the reusable water jugs used for drinking water distribution throughout Latin America. We found bacterial contamination in the majority of these bottles, regardless of region or sanitation method, so additionally we have begun researching the efficacy and practicality of a wide range of sanitation methods to improve the quality of bottled water by reducing contamination introduced during the bottling process.

To further address this issue, we are using our extensive connections at research universities across the United States to organize an engineering grant competition to design a better bottling solution. We hope the competition will connect students with water companies and research, and generate ideas and conversation around clean water equality. Aquality is planning to release the guidelines and application details for the competition in early March 2017.

 

Wasn’t your last newsletter about the earthquake in Ecuador?

Yes. For those of you who do not know, there was, unfortunately, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered in our beloved home in Muisne, Ecuador this past April. It devastated the infrastructure of the entire country, killed more than 600 people, and left countless thousands injured, homeless, and unemployed. Fortunately no one from our team was killed or injured, but given our unique relationship with the communities most affected, we decided to place our research efforts temporarily on hold and channel our fundraising efforts into supporting the earthquake relief efforts.

Thanks to your generous contributions, our team in Ecuador has been able to rapidly provide those in need with food, water, blankets, medicine, mosquito nets, mattresses, and other emergency supplies. With your support we have been able to raise a total of $24,500 for the earthquake relief. This money purchased supplies to set up initial refugee camps for hundreds of displaced people in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and then it continued to support the camps by providing them with free water from several of our previously constructed water centers. Additional funds have been channeled into helping with some of the reconstruction efforts in Muisne Canton. We are continuing to work with our partners on the ground and provide limited assistance, but we are also happy to report that we have resumed our research projects and other normal operations. While the earthquake will have long-lasting effects in these communities for years to come, they have stabilized and are now able to engage wholly in the rebuilding process.

We would like to especially thank our partner, Foundation Beyond Belief for their support and generous contributions to our efforts.

 

How can you support Aquality? (Without donating!)

Donations of any size are a great way to support our work, and they will always be greatly appreciated. However, we recognize that especially around the holidays money can be tight for some families. If you are looking to make a meaningful contribution, here are three ways that you can support Aquality and our mission without making a direct donation:

  • Make a Good World Account – By clicking on this link and entering your credit card information, you will receive a free $10 credit that you can donate immediately to Aquality! Making an account takes less than 1 minute to do, and is completely free. The credit will be applied to your account once you confirm your $10 donation, so that your credit card will not be charged. Plus it is a great and easy option for supporting your favorite charities in the future using a simple #donate hashtag on either Facebook or Twitter!
  • Amazon Smile – Almost everyone nowadays is going to do at least part of their holiday shopping online. I would encourage all of you to shop on Amazon Smile! It contains all of the same products as Amazon.com at the exact same prices, but they will donate 0.5% of your total purchase price to a charity of your choice (us!). To set it up, simply login and then select Agua Muisne Corporation (Baltimore, MD) as your charity. Please remember to use it for all of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping! Here is a link for more information.
  • Join Our Team – Aquality is looking to fill a number of open positions on our team. We operate a little differently from most organizations; to keep our overhead costs down, our entire organization is made up exclusively of volunteers. This means that we expect all of our members to also be full-time students or have a full-time job – we are more than willing to accommodate your schedule and you can work from anywhere. We structure ourselves so that the weekly time commitments are small, but the net effect is large. Plus working with us provides great hands-on experience in global health and exposure to a host of different opportunities. Even if you are not interested, please invite your friends or coworkers to consider joining us. Volunteering is always a great New Year’s Resolution. For any questions email Dan Schwarz.

 

All of our research work and advocacy is only made possible because of your continued generosity. I would just like to thank you in advance for supporting Aquality in whatever capacity you can. Let’s work together to make drinking water equality a reality.