Spruce Grove Rotary Club to construct clean water system in Ecuador

Due to the nation being in its rainy season, construction on the project is not expected to start until April or May.

An Ecuadorian male tries out the clean water coming from the El Palmar water project completed by a Rotary Club in the nation in 2017. The upcoming piece overseen by Spruce Grove Rotarians is a near-carbon copy. Submitted photo

Share Adjust Comment Print

One of Rotary International’s core objectives is to address challenges around the world. Now, Spruce Grove’s Rotary Club is tackling issues in South America.

In a presentation at a meeting for the group last week, club member Brad Mastaler provided an update on the organization’s water system development in the South American nation of Ecuador. It is a $40,000-plus gravity-fed design, will be placed in the vicinity of Bahia de Caraquez and, according to Mastaler, is the result of years of connections the Rotarians from Spruce Grove have made in the nation.

“This project is really the result of pebbles cast into ponds 15 years ago,” he said. “I have been fortunate to watch the ripples spread and we have done our best to keep the ripples going along. Years ago, we built a school there and it was really a community effort.”

Mastaler went on to add the group for some time focused on maintenance of the school they had previously constructed in country – such as equipping it with more teachers – before explaining the origins of the water system. After an earthquake damaged local infrastructure in 2016, Mastaler and his team began to talk with a local businessman named William Stumbaugh about what could be done to help.

“We came in after the quake to provide relief and got to talking about water projects,” Mastaler said. “That was really the first time in this particular locality that we looked at a water project in the area.”

Brad Mastaler speaks at the Spruce Grove Rotary Club’s meeting last week. Mastaler presented information to the group on their efforts to build a clean water system in Ecuador.Photo by Evan J. Pretzer Rep/Ex Staff

From there, Mastaler and his peers on the ground helped another Rotary Club from British Columbia raise funds for their water system built in Ecuador and then later moved into fundraising for their own. Of the $40,000-plus raised, most came from grants the club was fortunate enough to get which also matched with other money.

They took in an initial $3,875 and then snagged the rest through grants that matched with their already raised funds. For Mastaler, this really “shows the international power of Rotary.”

Though sometimes projects build funding into their initial budgets for a year or two of sustainability and maintenance, this is not the course of action planned for the water system. Instead, the Rotary Clubs intend to work with local officials on the ground to set up an elected board that will then charge residents a fee for the water. The area does have corruption issues, but here, Mastaler says it will be ok.

“We do not hope for the best with what we do,” Mastaler said. “There are Rotarians in the country who will look after the system and integrity is of the utmost importance to us. We have a longstanding connection with the country and really, I hope this inspires people to do more.”

Due to the nation being in its rainy season, construction on the project is not expected to start until April or May. In an email, local Ecuadorian Rotary member and businessman William Stumbaugh had nothing but praise for Mastaler’s people and the idea.

“I have no problem in feeling good that we can do something which will help many others who are very poor with little likelihood of rising out of poverty without help,” he wrote. “The new relationship with these [Canadian] Rotarians promotes greater world understanding and we believe this closer relationship contributes to world peace.”

epretzer@postmedia.com

Comments