BUSINESS: The Water4 Way

A well in ChinaEverything starts with water.
That’s the conclusion Water4 co-founder, Richard Greenly, arrived at during a
2005 business trip to China. In an outlying, underserved, impoverished
community in one of the largest nations on earth, he watched as villagers
struggled with poor health, lackluster farming and no education. All for want
of clean water.

Solving the villagers’ water
problem became his personal quest, and he and his wife founded Water4 in 2008.
Since it’s inception, Water4 has worked in over a dozen countries across the
globe, changing the lives of a quarter of a million people. It’s a good start,
but there’s a lot more work to do while 780 million people around the world
live day to day without access to clean, drinkable water. But Greenly is
undaunted. “We’ve proven it works. We’ve seen it change lives. We’re ready to
fix this problem anywhere and everywhere.”

It’s not so much that the water
isn’t there. It’s right under the ground. But getting it out requires an unconventional,
low-maintenance, inexpensive and durable solution that can function in areas
with little to no infrastructure.

Greenly, a geologist and
co-owner of an Oklahoma City pump distributer, PumpsOK, turned to his lifelong
friend, Steve Stewart, after founding Water4, and together they worked to
create a system unlike anything else they had come across in their research.

They took a hard look at the
worldwide water crisis—what aid efforts worked and what didn’t. After creating
a unique hand pump and a highly effective manual drilling system, Greenly and
Stewart decided that simply drilling water wells for people in need wasn’t the
solution. They decided the key to the problem was to put the locals in business
drilling and maintaining their own water wells. Water4 trains and equips
members of rural communities to drill and manage wells in addition to repairing
and fabricating their own drilling tools.

The Water4 method doesn’t just
provide access to clean water, it creates a truly sustainable solution by empowering
the locals to provide for their own water needs. By allowing the local men and
women an opportunity to drill wells as a livelihood, it stimulates the local
economy as well as improves the overall condition of the region.

“It all starts with water —
food, health, agriculture, education, the economy. And once the equipment is in
place, the only other necessary element is personnel,” says Greenly. Drilling
is now a vocation in many of the places we’ve served. They’re getting the
water. And everything else slowly follows.”

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