Going to school with clean water. It’s “elementary,” right? Unfortunately, access to clean drinking water is not a given for all students starting back to school this fall.
This past summer the Nalgene Water Fund (NWF) worked with Freshwater Future, a non-profit dedicated to a healthy future for the waters of the Great Lakes region, to identify the Benton Harbor Community Water Council (BHCWC) as a recipient of its most recent round of donations. The NWF supports domestic communities struggling with access to clean water to raise funds and awareness.
Benton Harbor, a city nestled on the southeast edge of Lake Michigan, across the lake from Chicago, is dealing with lead pipes within its drinking water transport. For the past three years Benton Harbor residents have lived with elevated lead in their water that exceeds both state and federal limits. In fact, 18 public sources in the state of Michigan are currently out of compliance for lead in the water (above 15 ppb lead detected in at least 10% of homes tested in the water supply).
The partnership includes several facets to support clean drinking water in Benton Harbor:
- This summer, the NWF contributed an initial $3,500 donation to install water refill stations that filter out lead at two locations in Benton Harbor High School ensuring that the nearly 600 students there had access to clean drinking water on the first day of school.
- Nalgene Outdoor donated reusable water bottles for every high school student the first week of school. All middle- and elementary- aged students will receive Nalgene product with their water refill stations later this fall.
- Within the next few months the donation will total over $13,000 and include 8 filtered water refill stations installed across all the district’s schools.
- Freshwater Future will take monthly samples from the water refill stations and test them for lead at the state-of-the-art Flint Community Lab to determine when filters need changing.
“It’s all about water,” says Rev. Edward Pinkney, chair of the Benton Harbor Community Water Council. “Nalgene and its Water Fund understand that we are stronger when we work together toward a common goal and that in order to solve our nation’s most pressing water challenges, we have to work at a grassroots and community-driven level.”
Nalgene Outdoor believes that every community in the U.S. should have the basic human right of clean water. The Nalgene Water Fund launched in 2019 to support domestic communities struggling with access to clean water. The Fund partners with grassroots nonprofits to raise funds and awareness for local water crises. Specially designed Nalgene Water Fund bottles are available exclusively for $15 at Nalgene.com . $5 of the sale of each of these bottles goes to the Fund and supports its mission.
“We hope to put Benton Harbor on the map for those outside of Michigan,” says Elissa McGee, general manager, Nalgene Outdoor. “Raising awareness nationally that access to safe water continues to be a challenge for many in the United States and contributing resources to local nonprofits that are working toward a solution is our constant goal.”
About the Nalgene Water Fund
- In 2020, through a partnership with Freshwater Future and Thermo-Fisher Scientific, the NWF donated more than $650,000 to the Flint Community Lab in state-of-the-art laboratory instruments, critical funding and reusable bottles used for both water sample collection and continued use at home.
- In 2021, the NWF partnered with a local Navajo designer to create the “Water is Life” bottle, which to date has raised nearly $45,000 toward efforts to improve access to clean water on the Navajo Nation.
About the Benton Harbor Community Water Council
Benton Harbor Community Water Council is a community-based grassroots organization that aims to inform, educate and empower residents about land, water, education and the democratic process.
About Freshwater Future
Freshwater Future is a catalyst for community action that strengthens policies designed to safeguard the waters of the Great Lakes region.
Nalgene Water Fund
The Nalgene Water Fund launched in 2019 to support domestic communities struggling with access to clean water. The Fund partners with grassroots nonprofits to raise funds and awareness for local water crises. $5 from the sale of every specially-designed Nalgene Water Fund bottles supports this mission.Nalgene Water Fund Exclusive Bottle