Living Water Providing Water to World Communities


Stafford-based nonprofit provides clean water around the world by using specialized water pump sensors and cell phone data to expedite pump maintenance

The Sugar Land resident is president and CEO of Living Water International, a faith-based 501(c)3 organization at 4001 Greenbriar Drive in Stafford that provides access to clean water to communities in more than 23 countries.

"My whole young life until the age of 20 was spent running tractors, digging trenches and putting in sprinkler systems. I went to college because it was really hot outside and I thought it would be nicer to work inside where there was air conditioning, and the only way to get from the outside to the inside was to get an education," Mantel said.

After obtaining his bachelor's degree in business economics from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mantel began working for Tom Monaghan, co-founder of Domino's Pizza, who taught him about business. But it would be Monaghan's philanthropic spirit that would ignite Mantel's passion for providing access to water for individuals in underdeveloped countries.

"I went on a trip following a donation he made for a water well in Senegal," Mantel said of Monaghan. "World Vision was the organization drilling that water well, and I went to make sure that his money was well-spent."

Three years turns to 17

Inspired by how the organization provided water access points for an entire village, Mantel talked with his boss about working three years for the humanitarian organization and then returning to his position with a Monaghan company named TSM Inc.

"I fell in love with water and three years turned into 17 years, and everywhere I went globally, water was the fundamental intervention in human development," he said.

"If you could get people water, it would develop agriculture, they would be healthy, women and girls would spend less time hauling water and spend more time in school and on their farms. And if I could do one thing in my life that would have a significant impact, it would be helping communities access water."

In 2008, he would join Living Water International, where he has worked for seven years providing access to clean water worldwide and sharing the love of God.

His education includes a doctorate in organization development from Benedictine University in Illinois.

With Living Water International's expanding network of wells, the group's leaders recognized the need to find more efficient and cost-effective ways to maintain existing wells. Last year, the group joined with Portland University and SweetSense Inc. to launch a pilot program that introduced real-time monitoring technology to community leaders in Rwanda as part of a large-scale water sustainability program.

"Currently, hand-pump check-ins and maintenance is a full-time job," said Moses Muendo Mutie, project coordinator for Living Water Rwanda. "We are excited to be the first to use this new technology, which helps us repair pumps before they break down and lets us share information quickly and easily between community and government maintenance teams."

Adding technology

Developed by Portland State and SweetSense, the technology uses specialized water pump sensors and cell phone data to expedite pump maintenance. The system is being tested in more than 200 water wells in Rwanda with hopes that it can be expanded to Living Water International wells worldwide.

"If the sensors prove effective, the hope is that the amount of money it costs to put the sensor in and maintaining the communications system would be significantly less than the repair time, fuel and the adverse impact on the communities from the downtime of a well," Mantel said.

To broaden the technology's impact, Living Water also educates individuals about sanitation and hygiene.

"Decades of experience show that community ownership and government involvement are crucial to sustainable water solutions," Mantel said.

Source: Chron

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