In 2005 there were 1,500 villages in China with no running water. In each case, the villagers–mostly women and school-aged girls–walked long distances each day to haul water from unsanitary sources just so they could perform the necessities of cooking, drinking, and bathing.
In February of that year, PumpsOK did something about that.
PumpsOK personnel was invited by the Ministry of Public Health in a southern China province to demonstrate whether an American company could successfully operate within China to install solar-powered pumping equipment and provide running water to villages that desperately needed it.
“The idea was to see if we could ship in pumps and solar panels, cooperate diplomatically and logistically with the Chinese government, and make it happen,” says Dick Greenly, PumpsOK president, and chief geologist.
In cooperation with Grundfos pumps, PumpsOK installed solar pumping systems in two villages, bringing running water to schools and allowing young girls–who had previously spent their days hauling water–to receive an education. The residents also proved that they were highly motivated to have running water in their villages, constructing elevated tanks and laying pipelines to support the PumpsOK installation.
“When it was over, we had a celebration,” says Greenly. “It was the first solar system ever in China. It was on national news. It was the most high-tech thing they’d ever seen.”
Though the two-village project was a success–and the systems installed by PumpsOK are still in use today–diplomatic and political issues prevented the full 1,500-well project from being realized. But the humanitarian problems that were solved by the China project spawned an idea in Dick Greenly, one that three years later would become Water4, one of the most recognized and effective organizations ever to tackle the world water crisis head-on, and win.