Our Heroes The PlayPump

Each time our children find “buried treasure”, we will place it up for auction. From each auction our children will take an amount of money and use it to buy a PlayPump for someone they do not know. As they grow older, they will come to know that “to whom much is given, much is expected” and will realize that the gifts they have been given are meant to be distributed to those who have little. This might seem simplistic, but this knowledge will be a seed which will grow with them. We invite you to bid on their treasure as a way to help them provide PlayPumps to the needy.

History of PlayPumps – Water For People history (From their website.)


In the early 1980s, Ken Miller, a former president of AWWA; Wayne Weiss, with Black & Veatch; and John B. Mannion, a former executive director of AWWA, shared the heartfelt vision of a world where all people have access to clean water, adequate sanitation, and basic health services.

Their vision touched the hearts of other leaders in AWWA. Together they put this idea into motion, transforming it into the social responsibility of the water industry. AWWA members provided the unprecedented excellence of the North American water utilities, manufacturing companies, and engineering consultants.

By the late 1980s, AWWA’s International Affairs Committee received a gift from the Ford Meter Box Company, Inc., for John Kalbermatten to prepare a feasibility study on helping people in developing countries. In 1989, the study resulted in a small ad hoc group to study issues concerning the organization’s start-up.

In February 1991, the dream turned into reality as Water For People became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) international nonprofit development organization, followed by the establishment of Water For People–Canada as a charitable organization in 1995.

The organization continued to grow and improve through the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2007, Water For People provided more than 108,000 beneficiaries with safe drinking water resources and/or improved sanitation facilities. In 2008 we provided over 184,000 beneficiaries with the same. That number grew again in 2009 to over 325,000.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has designated Water For People as its charity of choice. In addition to AWWA, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Quality Association, the National Association of Water Companies, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and other sectors of the North American water community, including leading manufacturing and consulting engineering companies, endorse Water For People.

PlayPumps and How PlayPumps Works

While children have fun spinning on the PlayPump merry-go-round (1), clean water is pumped (2) from underground (3) into a 2,500-liter tank (4), standing seven meters above the ground.

A simple tap (5) makes it easy for adults and children to draw water. Excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the borehole (6).

The water storage tank (7) provides a rare opportunity to advertise in outlaying communities. All four sides of the tank are leased as billboards, with two sides for consumer advertising and the other two sides for health and educational messages. The revenue generated by this unique model pays for pump maintenance.

The design of the PlayPump water system makes it highly effective, easy to operate and very economical, keeping costs and maintenance to an absolute minimum.

Capable of producing up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 meters, it is effective up to a depth of 100 meters.

As part of Water For People’s integration of PlayPumps technology into its portfolio of community water options, we will modify the system and its operation to fit the needs of local communities and improve sustainability. This includes investing resources in catalyzing local entrepreneurs to service the systems, as well as reducing tank height, keeping potential advertising revenue in the community, etc.

How a PlayPump Works


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