Living Waters for the World

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Living Waters for the World (LWW) is a faith-centered humanitarian organization that trains and supports volunteer teams to provide sustainable access to clean water through the fostering of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between the volunteers and communities in need. LWW began as a mission outreach of the Synod of Living Waters of the Presbyterian Church (USA). LWW water systems and educational programs address the niche in world water provisioning in which communities have an adequate and available but contaminated water supply.

The LWW training model is a relational one that emphasizes local partners leading health and hygiene training and constructing the clean water system and that their U.S. partners mentor and support them throughout the project. A covenant relationship is established for each water project, involving four or more trips by the U.S. partner to the installation site.

LWW water treatment systems are sized for small communities and are usually located in clinics, churches, schools, orphanages, community centers, and hospitals.

As of February 2017, Living Waters for the World water systems have been installed at 844 sites in 25 nations: Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Laos, Madagasgar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine, United States (Appalachia) and Venezuela.

Map of LWW water installations


Living Waters for the World was conceived by Wil Howie, a Presbyterian Church(USA) minister, who believed that the Church could literally bring life-saving, "living" water to people in need throughout the world and was officially recognized as a mission resource of the Presbyterian Church(USA) in 1993.

Through 2003, a small number of volunteers had installed 12 systems in Mexico, Haiti and Belize. Recognizing that it would not be able to significantly impact the growing water needs of the countries in which it was active, LWW developed a program to train and equip volunteer teams to install LWW water systems following the principal that, if you teach a person to fish, they can feed themselves for life.

The training program, Clean Water U, gave Living Waters for the World a way to dramatically impact the world water crisis by educating teams of volunteers who in turn educate others on health and hygiene issues and how to install water systems that provide safe water to those who lack it.

Through the efforts of LWW and other FBOs, NGOs, and humanitarian organizations, in 2016, the number of people who lack access to clean water fell to fewer than 600 million people from 1 billion people estimated by the World Health Organization in 2000.

Clean Water U[edit]

Clean Water U, began in March 2004 at Hopewell Camp and Conference Center near Oxford, Mississippi and as the number of people concerned about the World Water Crisis increased, a second Clean Water U was created at Calvin Crest Conferences in Oakhurst, California.

Clean Water U is a simulation experience designed to equip mission teams with the skills necessary to form partnerships with communities in need of clean water, educate local leaders to lead ongoing health and hygiene programs and install water treatment systems

These learning objectives are taught in three separate workshops which run concurrently during a five-day session. An organization typically sends three or more representatives - at least one for each class. These workshops are:

  • CWU 101: Water Project Management
  • CWU 102: Health, Hygiene and Spiritual Education
  • CWU 103: Water Testing, Water Treatment System Construction, Operation and Maintenance

Clean Water U sessions are open to people of any nationality, faith tradition or community service orientation and graduates of the training program are equipped to serve as team leaders, educators or technicians on subsequent water-focused mission trips. As of the end of 2016, over 2,100 volunteers have been trained via the Clean Water U program.


With a philosophy of keeping its clean-water systems 'simple and affordable' LWW developed community-sized water treatment systems using proven technology for treating contaminated water. To promote long-term sustainability of the systems, every effort is made to use parts that are available in-country where LWW systems are active.

The standard LWW water treatment system is a batch treatment process with an integrated water bottling station for distribution of bottled water throughout a community. The process capacity for a single batch is approximately 300 gallons of treated water per cycle, with a processing time of about one hour.

Processing consists of three stages of filtration, followed by ozone or UV (ultra-violet) light disinfection to eliminate bacteriological contamination. The equipment cost for a standard LWW system is $3500, and operating costs, excluding labor, are pennies per US gallon treated, excluding labor costs.

In addition to community-sized water treatment systems, LWW has also developed single-family systems for use in areas such as Appalachia where coal mining may have contaminated ground water sources.


As the number of LWW treatment systems in close geographic proximity steadily increased, the idea of grouping these systems and their partners into mutually supportive networks has taken hold. The networks are managed by a network coordinating team that pairs a LWW coordinating team in the US with coordinators in a specific country or geographical area to:

  • create viable LWW projects,
  • strengthen the partners’ relationship during the covenant period,
  • be aware of the status of all systems in the network area,
  • facilitate access to materials and expertise necessary to maintain systems in good order,
  • and ensure the long-term sustainability of the clean water systems

As of February 2017, networks exist in: Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

The network model has proven optimal in allowing LWW to expand the scope of its services while maintaining quality and responsiveness in providing clean water to communities in need. Therefore, effective January 2016, Living Waters for the World enters into covenant relationships only with initiating partners who commit to work within these networks. Should LWW decide to expand services to another part of the world, the organization will do so by working with interested partners in developing a network in that area.


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