What started out as a global ministry to provide clean water solutions to less industrialized nations of the world now helps supply the same options to rural areas in Tennessee at no cost to homeowners.
To those who qualify, volunteers from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, through the ministry Living Waters for the World, have installed water purification systems in homes in the outlying areas of Macon County since 2011.
“Living Waters for the World started out as an international organization,” said former project manager Dennis Williams. “We have over 1,000 systems installed in foreign countries. So, what we did was adapt that model to other places, primarily in Tennessee.”
Presently, there are areas of Macon County that do not receive city water, and families in those areas must find alternative water options, such as wells, springs, or creeks. However, making those sources potable can be very expensive.
“I have spring water,” said Macon County resident Danny Patterson. “The water purification systems are available to folks who have spring or well (or creek) water. I found out about the water systems through another party who had one installed. They told me that it was free, and of course, I thought to myself, ‘Nothing is free.’ ”
Living Waters for the World Project Manager Doug Leins added, “One of the barriers we’ve encountered is that it sounds too good to be true. People think, ‘Wow, they can’t do this for free.’ But to the homeowner, there is no cost.”
Since the project first began in Macon County, the church has installed more than 40 systems for local homeowners and more than 50 overall units throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.
In 2022, church volunteers installed three systems in the area.
Within the past two weeks, the church tested water for a Macon County homeowner who may be the first to receive a water purification system for 2023. And according to Leins, the church has the funding to install up to 10 units this year.
“We are doing some (water) testing (for a property owner),” said Leins. “It will be our 52nd system overall. Although we haven’t done any yet this year, we’re testing to see if we can install a system for them.”
For those without garages or other suitable places for a unit to be installed, the church also provides shelters for the water purification system at no cost to the homeowner.
“We’ll provide a shed if they don’t have a suitable place in their house or garage to put the system,” said Leins. “It’s a shed with a heater and insulation so that it doesn’t freeze in the winter.”
As Westminster Presbyterian Church has taken on the water project as a ministry to the surrounding communities, the only expense incurred by the homeowner is in changing the system’s filters, which is a minimal cost.
“There is a small cost to buy the filters, but it is a very little cost compared to what you have,” said Patterson. “I put mine on a three-month schedule to change the filters, and it’s working beautifully. I want to make sure that if somebody has taken the time and spent their money to let me have this system, I’m going to make sure it works properly and (that) I can have clean water for my family.
“The county mayor’s office has the filters available for the system. I guess you can get them other places, but I’ve not tried. There are two filters. There’s one micron filter and a 30-micron filter. They carry both of those. They also carry the UV lights for the system.”
For those who may have concerns about their water, and who are not on city water, Leins urges homeowners to get their water tested, as there is no cost to have it done.
“We will test people’s water for free if (the homeowners) are at all suspicious of their water,” said Leins. “Even if we don’t end up putting a system in, at least people will know that their water doesn’t have bacteria in it.”
Patterson added, “It’s free, and it’s well worth it. This really is an excellent program for those who take advantage of it.”
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