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CPChem, Water Mission bring life-saving clean water to residents of San Roque, Peru

Group of people in Peru

Representatives from CPChem, Water Mission, Grundfos and GF+ worked together to provide cleaning drinking water to the residents of a Peruvian community.

Yurma Maca  feared for the lives of her daughter, Esteisy, and two sons, Joel and Celin. Her three children repeatedly became ill, missing classes at school in the remote Peruvian village of San Roque and falling behind in their studies.

“My children — all three of them — were close to dying, and I would get desperate,” Yurma, holding back tears, explains in Spanish in a YouTube video.

As it turned out, parasite-contaminated water from the Amazon rainforest’s Cumbaza River — then the village’s main source of drinking water — was sickening her kids. Today, though, Yurma’s three children are much healthier thanks to a newly installed solar-powered system that supplies clean drinking water to the 300 or so households in San Roque.

‘A positive and tangible impact’

For this project, led by Water Mission, an engineering nonprofit, Chevron Phillips Chemical’s Performance Pipe division donated 3.7 miles of black high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe along with HDPE pipe fittings. 

“Our collaboration with Water Mission is a perfect example of how we are using our social responsibility strategy to deliver positive and tangible impact to society through our products,” said Benny Mermans, vice president of sustainability at CPChem . “Working with Water Mission represents our dedication to contribute to the betterment of communities around the world.”

Water Mission completed the $485,000 water-to-homes project in December 2023, supplying filtered, chlorinated water from a nearby lake to San Roque’s roughly 1,500 residents. In addition to CPChem’s contributed equipment, other strategic partners of Water Mission — including Grundfos and Georg Fischer —donated money, technology and know-how for this project.

Water Mission workers in Peru

Workers hired by Water Mission set up water lines for installation as part of a project to bring clean drinking water to the residents of San Roque, Peru, whose only source previously was the parasite-infested water of the Cumbaza River.

Aside from CPChem’s contribution of pipes and pipe fittings, the company connected its holiday cards to Water Mission donations, with contributions made to the nonprofit for every holiday card sent. This program enabled donations of $10,000 each of the past two years to Water Mission. Furthermore, CPChem highlights Water Mission as a charity of choice during the company’s charitable campaign each September.

“I thank God for bringing treated water to San Roque,” Yurma Maca says in the YouTube video. “Thanks to the donors who focused [here] and gave us a better quality of life for us and our children.”

A flood of benefits from clean water

In addition to improving the health of San Roque’s residents like Yurma and her kids, the new water system has freed women and girls from toiling hours a day to fetch river water. Now, these women and girls can focus more on their work and education. They’re also able to escape the looming threat of being assaulted during water-retrieving journeys.

Furthermore, residents no longer must collect rainwater from their roofs during the months-long rainy season. And they’re not forced to buy pricey contaminated water from local taxi drivers.

The new water system produced an unforeseen benefit as well.

“Word has spread about the safe water in San Roque, and other families have moved to the area to benefit from safe-water access,” said Taylor Edmonds, Water Mission’s program manager for Latin America and the Caribbean .

If all that weren’t enough, several San Roque residents — including Yurma Maca — earn money to help operate the new water system.

“San Roque is a community with strong leaders who take pride in managing their own water system, stewarding their resources well and ensuring that the water distributed is safe,” Edmonds said.

The critical role of HDPE in supplying clean water

As for the effect of the project on Water Mission itself, Edmonds said it allowed the charity’s workers to experiment with HDPE technology.

“This was the first time we had ever implemented an HDPE distribution system in our Latin America programs,” she said, “and it has given our team new insights into how to use HDPE in future projects.”
Edmonds applauded CPChem for helping broaden the reach of Water Mission’s projects.

“When large companies like CPChem support our work, you open up new opportunities for our organization to be widely known,” she said. “Through partnerships like this, more communities can receive and benefit from the transformation that comes from safe-water access.”

‘Humans can’t survive without water’

Unfortunately, folks from CPChem haven’t witnessed the success of the San Roque project firsthand, due to the logistical hurdles involved in reaching the isolated village.

But Pascale Atallah, product and social sustainability manager at CPChem, and Paul Dreher, international and specialties manager at Performance Pipe, did visit villages near the Peruvian city of Iquitos last October to get a close-up look at Water Mission’s work. Iquitos, where the charity’s Peruvian operation is based, happens to be the one of the world’s largest cities that can’t be accessed by road.

“Humans can’t survive without water,” Dreher said, “and to see firsthand the poverty and challenges that people face to get water — not even treated potable water — is very eye-opening and humbling.”

Dreher recalled touring one village where Water Mission had set up community stations for residents to obtain clean water six days a week during certain hours. Villagers’ homes lacked running water, sewer service and electricity, though.

“The moving part was hearing firsthand from two mothers about how having clean water has changed the lives of their families, especially the health of their children,” Dreher said.

Water project aligns with sustainable development goals

Atallah said more CPChem projects with Water Mission are in the works — initiatives that would solidify CPChem’s alignment with several sustainable development goals promoted by the United Nations. Among the relevant goals are:

  • UNSDG #3 Good health and well-being
  • UNSDG #4 Quality education
  • UNSDG #6 Clean water and sanitation
  • UNSDG #8 Decent work and economic growth

As it relates to the UN’s water goal, Atallah cites a startling statistic: An estimated 2.2 billion people around the world lack access to clean water, representing more than one-fourth of the global population.

For the people of San Roque, it “must be really gratifying knowing that not only have they got clean water, but it’s coming directly to their homes,” she said.

It’s also gratifying for Atallah and her CPChem colleagues. She noted that projects like San Roque’s clean-water system allow CPChem to showcase the importance of plastic products such as HDPE pipes.

“A lot of people don’t realize the value of plastics,” she said, “and this project is a perfect example of how plastics can help reduce inequalities and make a positive impact.”

For Yurma Maca, her three children and their San Roque neighbors, the project is a perfect example of how corporate and charitable interests can team up to create a life-changing impact.