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Clean Water Is The First Step

Walk 4 Water event helps change lives across the globe

Willows residents Edwin Salazar, 11, Luis Gonzalez, 12, and Emily Vasquez, 12, carry buckets of water during the Walk 4 Water on March 25, 2017, in Bidwell Park in Chico. – Dan Reidel — Enterprise-RecordBy HEATHER HACKING and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | ColumnistPUBLISHED: March 25, 2017 at 9:18 p.m. | UPDATED: April 20, 2018 at 5:04 a.m. Chico >> Hundreds of people put one foot in front of the other Saturday to bring the gift of water to dry places across the globe. The event was Walk 4 Water, put on by the local group Bridging the Gap by Giving. Now in its ninth year, money raised through the event in Bidwell Park will help provide wells in underdeveloped countries, as well as education on how to keep the water clean for daily use. On a day when the sidewalk was wet in the morning from rain the night before, it’s easy to take water for granted. However, many people must walk for hours a day to provide water for their families in places including Africa. When a well is installed in a village, lives change. Bridging the Gap partners with other groups working for the same cause. Monica Hubert, of World Vision, was in Chico Saturday to see the local walkers in action. Soon she’ll head off to Malawi to work on a new water system. Sean Martin works for Lifewater, a group that helps install wells and provides training to people in extremely poor areas throughout the world. When water isn’t available, sanitation is a huge problem, including the use of the outdoors instead of centralized latrines, Martin explained. Part of the work by his group, which is helped through the local fundraising, is to train people about safe water use. One project is in Kaliro, Uganda, where door-to-door training will be provided. Without water available, people in isolated villages do not have a culture of safe water handling, he explained. Sometimes the fix is as simple as showing people how to use plastic containers to store water. In a video produced by the group, a child constructs a frame where a water bottle is attached by rope for a hand-washing station, Lack of water is a massive problem, Martin explained, but much progress is being made, one project at a time. Event participants Randy and Cindy Riggs said they joined the walk after hearing a talk by Bridging the Gap founder Shirley Adams. “She put it on…
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Walking for water determines Ireen’s future in Malawi

The most beautiful of constellations, Orion, hangs low over the village in central Malawi. The stars around it are as uncountable as the grains of sand bordering Lake Malawi, 60 miles away. Far below Orion’s shimmer, a rooster crows — an alarm clock with feathers, strutting through the darkness past a row of huts where adults and children yearn for a few more hours of rest. Eight-year-old Ireen is fast asleep in her grandmother’s one-room hut. Next door in her mother’s house, her sister, Jekina, 4, stirs as the rooster continues the hullabaloo, no snooze button to silence him. The girls’ mother, Happiness — Chimwemwe in her native tongue of Chichewa — wakes in the dark to make her first walk of the day to collect water under the night sky. She ties her 1-month-old baby, Secret, securely to her back with a colorful piece of cloth, then walks with her twin sister, Gift, in single file from their huts to a stream where as many as a thousand people will collect water and wash clothes from morning until night. Although it is dark, the 26-year-olds don’t need a flashlight. They know this path. They have been walking its treacherous terrain since they were 4. Their family lives in the Great Rift Valley, the geological marvel that stretches nearly 4,000 miles from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in the Middle East to Mozambique in southeastern Africa. The valley, actually a series of adjoining trenches, is the result of a rift: a fracture in the earth that continues to tear open the crust, causing chunks of earth to sink and molten rock to rise in the form of volcanic eruptions. The stream where the family collects water is within the Great Rift. The hills are rocky, the valleys slippery, and the changes in elevation make for a grueling and potentially dangerous climb — especially carrying a heavy bucket of water on your head in temperatures swelling over 90 degrees, your neck and calves aching, sweat trickling into your eyes and momentarily blinding you. The stars above the path are dizzyingly spectacular, but their magnificence is lost on Happiness. The single mother worries about her house — at only 12 feet across, it’s too small for all four of her children. She worries about leaving Jekina alone every morning — what if someone tries to abduct her? She worries about feeding her son, Beauty, who is staying with his father,…
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Walk for Water

t’s amazing to see how a schoolwide reading assignment can touch the hearts of our youth. Our students at Gerber School recently read, “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, thanks to the generosity of employees at Amdocs, who purchased the books. The novel begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985.  The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is a two-hour walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. Park used this book as a platform to support Dut’s program, Water for South Sudan. Through reading the book, our kids learned that in South Sudan, millions of women and children walk for up to eight hours a day to collect water from marshes, ditches, or wells where the water is often contaminated with parasites and bacteria. Our kids couldn’t believe that something as simple as clean water wasn’t available to everyone and the real-life story made quite an impact on them. “Our younger students were so moved by the story they felt the need to somehow contribute to this cause in their own way,” Melissa, one of our Gerber School social workers, said. “So, together, we have developed our own fundraiser, Gerber Cheetahs Walk for Water, in hopes that we might be able to make a difference.” On March 29th at noon, Gerber students and staff will be walking around the Cunningham campus carrying jugs of water to emulate the struggles faced daily by the people in Sudan. The students are taking donations with the goal of raising more than $1,000 to help build water wells in South Sudan. If our kids reach their goal, they will be placed in a drawing to have Salva Dut, who is now an adult, visit them at school. “This is an opportunity for our students to demonstrate compassion and for others to demonstrate generosity,” Melissa said. “What a wonderful way for our children to see…
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What controls natural water quality?

Material adapted from Vandas, S.J., Winter, T.C., and Battaglin, W.A. 2002. Water and the Environment, p. 28-29. Published by the American Geosciences Institute Environmental Awareness Series. The fundamental controls on natural water quality, water not impacted by the activities of humans, are the types of organic and geologic materials it contacts and the duration of this contact. As water moves through organic materials like leaves and roots, it reacts with them and with the living things associated with them, such as soil bacteria and algae. As water moves through geologic materials, it dissolves them. The processes of rock weathering on the Earth’s surface are strongly influenced by climatic factors such as temperature and the quantity and distribution of precipitation. Climatic patterns and environmental conditions affect plant communities and soil types, causing the waters that flow from these areas to have a certain chemical signature. The influence of climate and geology on water quality is indicated by the quantity and kinds of dissolved materials contributed from an area and the amount of sediment carried by streams. Natural water can vary greatly in the dissolved materials that it carries. Natural springs that flow through salt-bearing geologic formations can have as much as 200,000 parts per million (PPM) of dissolved materials. Some streams that flow over rocks with low solubility can have as little as 50 parts per million (PPM) of dissolved materials. For drinking water purposes it is recommended that waters contain less than 500 parts per million of dissolved materials. Natural events such as droughts and floods may cause substantial changes in stream water quality. Reduced flow resulting from droughts can cause an increase in the concentrations of dissolved materials and a decrease in the load or amount of solid material carried by a stream. The reverse is true of floods; high flows generally dilute the concentrations of dissolved materials, and flush new sediments from flood plains, increasing the sediment load. Biological factors can have a major effect on the quality of natural waters. Changes to any of the environmental factors that make up ecosystems can result in changes to the ecosystem as a whole. Through the process of photosynthesis, aquatic plants produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and phosphorous in the water. The decay of plant materials consumes oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. Change in the balance between growth and decay can result in a change in the ecosystem and…
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Why Clean Water

Our focus is on clean water because we see clean water as the first step to ending extreme poverty in the world. And we’re not alone in that thought. Video provided by Charity: Water. Image provided by Living Water International. Just twenty dollars gives someone clean water for life! Give clean water today.