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From Tom Carter, Founder of Agua Pura Para El Pueblo:

I have been involved with public health and sanitation issues for almost 50 years since I was an early Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in 1963. The community I lived in had no clean water or sanitation and so the Peace Corps helped build latrines there. Unfortunately there was very little community participation or planning about how the latrines were to be built or maintained, and it was only a few days till the latrines were a disgusting mess and had to be torn down and filled in. That experience has stayed with me ever since, that good intentions and personal effort are not enough without community involvement and cooperation. Since those days I’ve had a stretch as an Army medic and a long career working in medical laboratories and am now retired, but I still maintain my interest in public health and sanitation issues.

In the past few years I have participated in several different projects, mostly in Mexico, including sanitation, water conservation and clean water programs. Rather than larger scale programs, I’ve focused on simple ways families can help themselves have healthier lives. These include roof gutters and storage tanks to collect rain water, hand washing facilities in schools and homes to prevent illnesses, and better, more sanitary composting latrines for families.

Recently I have focused on methods to test drinking water for fecal contamination. Previously water testing has been complicated, expensive and time consuming, but new methods developed for the food processing industry have made it much simpler and cheaper and allow people to test their own water for safety. Once people have tested their drinking water and found it to be contaminated, there are numerous inexpensive ways that they can use to treat their water to make it safe to drink. My current work has been to teach these testing methods and procedures to interested parties such as other NGO organizations and community members.

I’m not associated directly with any other organization or corporation but I support various methods I think are useful and practical. I volunteer my time to this work and all my personal expenses including travel are donated at no cost to Agua Pura Para El Pueblo I have written a blog about some of my more recent projects. You can read it at: watertestingtom.blogspot.com