Most lakeside communities draw their water for household use directly from the lake.
Since water from Lake Atitlán is no longer fit for consumption, chlorine is now added through municipal water systems. The level of chlorine varies from day to day and at times is so strong that people refuse to drink the water. People with means purchase bottled water, but when 5 gallon bottles of commercial filtered water are not available, people resort to drinking from plastic bags or small bottles which litter the landscape.
Others would rather use the raw lake water and carry it from the shore it to their homes where they may boil it for consumption. With levels of fecal contamination, cyanobacteria and persistent organic pollutants in the lake increasing yearly, this is a pressing public health issue.
In February 2017 our Board of Directors voted to begin a program of water filter distribution. Based upon their experience in using various water filters, we selected the Utz Ja Water Filters, made of food-grade plastic and equipped with a British Berkefeld Super Sterasyl filter element.
Three generous donors provided the funds necessary to purchase the first filters and replacement pieces. The project is self-sustaining, as the money returns when the filters are sold and is recycled again for more new water filters.
Our choice of water filter combines an accessible price with high quality filter technology. Filters are durable and easy to transport, handle and maintain. Families have the security of knowing their investment is protected, as the replacement filter elements are readily available from Tuik Ruch Lew. Education and support for use of the filters is provided along with our regular visits for the stoves.