When I think of Oklahoma, I think of a state dripping in oil.
Oil has created incredible economic opportunity but we are also seeing incredible environmental distress from drilling and the disposal of wastewater underground. In 2014, OK had three times as many earthquakes as CA. In fact, one week this June there were 35 quakes at 3.0 or greater. But this wasn’t the seismic shift that rocked my perception of Oklahoma.
Pumps of Oklahoma caused the rumbling. They help move water from the oil and gas, wastewater, to farming industries, but they also provide clean water to 36 developing countries.
For the past seven years they’ve been moving water in developing regions. This was the quake that shook my views. Pumps of OK founders Dick and Terri Greenly co-founded Water4, a non-profit offering manual drilling and water pumping systems that locals can install, operate and maintain.
To date, Water4 has worked in 36 countries, drilled and repaired 3,000 wells, trained 250 drillers and provided nearly 1 million people with access to clean drinking water since ‘08. Now that is one positive seismic shift.
Fresh Perspective. Meet Jim Stewart.
I had the honor of spending the afternoon with Jim Stewart, Partner Development for Water4. He was brought in on Day-1 with the primary purpose of reinventing the pump. He had no experience in the pumping industry. In fact, he had never looked at or operated a water pump. He was just a great designer with a mechanical mind and a will to meet all the requirements.
Water Pump Paramaters:
- Raise water 80 feet
- Easily operated by a child
- Raw costs must be under $50
- Elimate the infamous O ring (the point of failure of most pumps after 6 months)
- Design from common materials found in-country
- Manufacture in-country
- Ship in 2 months
Stewart's greatest advantage was that he had no prior knowledge of water pumps. There is power with an open mind. Stewart’s hand pump design displaces water rather than pulling water. Think of it this way. Fill a cup with water. Now place a smaller cup inside and push down. The water will flow right up over. This is more or less how he designed this groundbreaking water pump.
A pump that cost $17.85, with all materials sourced locally. This is pretty incredible. He blew away the $50 requirement and crushed the standard pump cost of $1,500. The income from having available water has brought more food and employment. It is like a geyser, stimulating the economy and opening the door for education. Young girls now go to school instead of walking to the river all day.
Impact of Water4
The pump is not a liability; it is an asset. The goal of Water4 is to work themselves right out of a job. They are not a hand out. They teach the skills of how to drill, set the pipe, make and install the water pump. They then leave it in the hands of the self-sufficient locals.
To date, Water4 has worked in 36 countries, drilled and repaired 3,000 wells, trained 250 drillers and provided nearly 1 million people with access to clean drinking water since ‘08. Now that is one seismic shift I can get behind.