WaterStep is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Old Louisville. It believes that everyone should have access to safe water and no one should suffer from waterborne illnesses. WaterStep implements water projects throughout the world and equips people with tools and training in water purification, disaster relief, health education, and well repair. Since its founding in 1995, it has brought safe water to people in over forty countries.
When WaterStep purchased the property at 625 Myrtle in Old Louisville in October 2012, the 38,000 sq. ft. building had been vacant and neglected for over six years and needed major cosmetic and capital improvements. Several large-scale renovation projects have already been completed, including a new roof and the buildout of office space and an indoor hand pump repair school. More capital improvements are currently underway that will allow the organization to expand its manufacturing and assembly capabilities to allow more life-saving equipment to get into the field. The building is also home to several other startups leasing space within the facility: Normalyte, a company that manufactures an oral rehydration salt formula to combat dehydration; HabiHut, a company that makes environmentally-friendly and cost-effective shelters; EcoBridge, a company that creates natural fiber-based composites as building material; and StoryWood Bowties, a company that crafts bowties from historic wood.
WaterStep recently provided equipment and tools that produce safe water and disinfectant to those affected by Hurricane Irma in South Florida and the Caribbean. The equipment included WaterStep’s award-winning M-100 chlorine generators, a portable water purification system small enough to fit in a backpack and powerful enough to provide safe water for thousands of people a day, and portable bleach makers, which are small handheld devices that produces medical strength bleach that can be used to sanitize medical clinics and disinfect cooking equipment and clothing. These tools provide a simple, low-cost way to get large amounts (up to 10,000 gallons per day) of safe water to the survivors for drinking, showering, cleaning, and other uses.
Earlier this year, WaterStep implemented numerous projects spanning thirteen communities in Ecuador and provided aid to survivors of the deadly landslide that devastated Mocoa, Colombia. WaterStep officials quickly worked with their existing partners in Ecuador and new partners in Colombia to gather a group of sixty medical workers, community leaders and military representatives and trained them on how to install and use the organization’s simple but very effective safe water tools. The team installed WaterStep’s M-100 chlorine generators and Bleach Makers in several refugee camps, allowing approximately 1,000 families to have access to safe water and medical-strength bleach.
When disasters like this strike, individuals and organizations often focus their relief efforts on sending bottled water or bottled bleach to the affected communities. But, in fact, WaterStep’s portable chlorine generator and bleach maker provide a more sustainable, long-term source of safe water and disinfectant at a tiny fraction of the cost required to ship pre-packaged water and bleach.
To learn more about WaterStep’s ongoing safe water and health education projects, please visit www.waterstep.org or call 568-6342. Participants of the 2017 Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour are encouraged to bring their gently used shoes to the Historic Old Louisville Neighborhood & Visitor’s Center, 1340 S 4th St., the day of the tour. WaterStep collects gently used shoes of all sizes and condition, then sells them to an exporter. The funds are then used to support WaterStep’s mission to save lives with safe water.