March 22nd 2007 has been designated by the United Nations as World Water Day, and Mike Stafford, President of the Rotary Club of Freeport took this day to showcase Rotary's plan to build an emergency water-making facility in Grand Bahama. Click the play button on the video  below or click HERE to view the video in another window.


Today, March 22nd 2007 has been designated by the United Nations as World Water Day, and Mike Stafford, President of the Rotary Club of Freeport took this day to showcase Rotary's plan to build an emergency water-making facility in Grand Bahama. The Grand Bahama Reverse Osmosis Foundation and Hurricane Water Relief Facility is being built in conjunction with Rotary Clubs from Nassau (District 7020), Greater Los Angeles, CA (District 5280), as well as the Rotary Clubs of Grand Bahama and South Florida (District 6990) and the Bahamas based TK Foundation. Plans have been put in place for the 6000 gallon per day plant to be constructed in the Lucaya area on land donated by Preben Olsen of New Hope Holdings.  The WMFQ 6000 reverse osmosis desalination system has a 6000 gallon per day capacity and is already used successfully on Musha Cay in the Exumas. 


Photo above: Mike Stafford explains the water making technology.


Photo right: Rotarians and officials at today's presentation.

Steve Gunn, Rotary Club of Freeport's Community Service Director
Felix Stubbs, Nassau Sunrise Rotary Club President
Phillip Beneby, Water and Sewerage Corporation of the Bahamas
Murray Forde, Rotary District 7020 Assistant Governor
Mike Stafford, Rotary Club of Freeport President
Andre Feldman, Rotary Club of Grand Bahama Sunrise
Lindsey Cancino, Rotary Club of East Nassau Past President

The following is part of today's speech by Mike Stafford:

During 2004 and 2005 Grand Bahama was hit by three very strong hurricanes which wrecked havoc on our communities. They affected business and individual households and they also disrupted the island's infrastructure. Some of us were without electricity for six weeks. All of us in 2004 were without running water for four days, some even longer. Some were fortunate enough to be prepared and had stocked up on drinking water to last through the period until the stores and water suppliers reopened. Some stores and some water suppliers never reopened.

Rotary was one of the first organizations that were delivering aid in the form of food and water directly to those persons who needed help, many were in our inner cities and out lying settlements and cays.

We had containers arrive from our neighbours in Nassau and from Florida filled with food, water and baby supplies. During Hurricane Wilma, the Nassau clubs organized a plane and a helicopter to fly in aid the very day after Wilma had hit us. The plane flew back and forth from Nassau with prepackaged food, baby supplies, and water. These were packaged and organized by the Nassau Rotarians.

Because of the weight of the water, along with its bulk, it was recognized that a considerable amount of food and baby supplies could not be carried by the planes because of the weight of the water. We could have flown in much more food supplies if we didn't have to bear the weight of the water, but people needed both food and water, so in Nassau they loaded both.

After, it was discussed that if we had drinking water already here it would reduce the need to import it, increase the amount of food able to be imported, and simplify the whole process. But where and how would we store it, who would we buy it from, what is the shelf life of bottled water? There were so many questions to be answered.

In late 2005, after Wilma, the TK Foundation - a Bahamas based philanthropic organization - decided that they wanted to make a proactive rather than just reactive contribution to the relief effort by building and partially funding a water facility here in Grand Bahama. They felt that they could help provide a facility which, in the event an emergency, would produce drinking water which could be distributed to those in need.

When they looked at who they could partner with it was clear that Rotary could be trusted to handle the project. After all, the Grand Bahama Hurricane Response team had successfully delivered aid after three major hurricanes.

Also at the same time the Rotary Clubs of District 5280 in the Los Angeles area of California decided that they wanted to fulfill one of Rotary International's initiatives and become involved in an international Water Project. It so happens that in the Rotary club of Santa Monica is a Bahamian named Miles Prichard. He got in touch with friends in Nassau and soon a relationship was formed between the three Districts: 5280 in Greater Los Angeles, California, 6990 in Grand Bahama and SE Florida, and 7020 in Nassau, Abaco and the Caribbean clubs.

A very generous donation of land to house the facility came from Mr. Preben Olsen of New Hope Holdings. When he was presented with our plan he also offered us the opportunity to tie into his existing stand-by diesel generator, thereby eliminating the need for us to purchase and maintain a generator within our facility.

Click HERE to view the video of the presentation.