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Nov 28 2019

Still Digging

By Cathy Coleman for The Island Connection

The six volunteers who comprise the Water Wellness Mission team hosted a gathering at the Seabrook Island Clubhouse Oct. 27, honoring 65 local islanders who have made generous donations for new wells.

Co-program Directors Bill Britton and John Carpenter thanked the organization’s contributors and shared with them all that their dollars have enabled Water Wellness Mission to accomplish in 3 1/2 years.

To date, WWM’s drilling company, Pure Water Drillers, has installed 112 new well and filtration systems, bringing long-awaited clean water to more than 300 family members on Johns Island and Wadmalaw Island.

The math tells the story. The $6,500 price tag per well and filtration system equates to over $700,000 in gifts from donors, and they haven’t stopped giving.

With 98.5 cents out of every dollar donated going directly to well installations, givers know that their donations directly improve lives. And WWM can keep digging because additional dollars were pledged at the appreciation event.

The water issue remained undetected until 2016, when healthy food was distributed to the needy on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands and hundreds of broken wells, impacting countless family members, were discovered. Homeowners began telling their tales of well water that smelled like rotten eggs and tasted like salt or sulphur and how their relatives and neighbors down the street and around the corner suffered with the same problem. Sinks, toilets and tubs were, more often than not, stained brown from iron deposits, and well water was brown and undrinkable.

For these folks, healthy drinking water was available only if they bought bottled water – a heavy financial burden. Simply grabbing a glass of thirst-quenching water was a costly luxury.

Sponge baths became a weak substitute for showers and tub baths, and young mothers noted that their babies’ sink baths required expensive bottled water.

Literally hundreds of people, including children, seniors and the physically challenged, have suffered without clean well water, many of them for decades.

Ed Hamilton lived in his trailer for 20 years. He couldn’t remember his birthday but recalled that he’d lived without water for seven years before Water Wellness Mission was able to dig a new well for him. Until then, he lugged jugs of water from his sister’s house to his trailer and stored them on his back stairs. It was fortunate that he didn’t have to buy bottled water because he had no means to do so. Hamilton’s situation is typical – with the 112 new wells installed, there are 112 similar stories and many more to come.

Currently, more than 60 families on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands remain on the waiting list, and an estimated 200 more also suffer with dysfunctional wells. Because available donations typically allow one installation per week, lead times approach one year after they sign up. When told of the wait time for a new well, one recipient said, “I’ve waited for years, already. What’s one more.” Even one year is too long to live without clean water.

It takes the Pure Water Driller team just one day to install a new well. WWM’s goal is to put them to work more often. These 65 donors are fueling that goal – clean water for all, in weeks rather than years. 

The Water Wellness Mission team extends a very special thank you to COO and Broker in Charge Michael Asnip of Seabrook Island Real Estate, for generously sponsoring this event. 

To help a family receive a new well, please make your check out to SIHAF (Sea Island Hunger Awareness Foundation – a 501(c)3 foundation),  write “WWM” on the memo line and mail it to SIHAF,  P.O. Box 268, Johns Island, South Carolina 29457. You also can make a donation at waterwellnessmission.org.

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