On Tuesday, January 24, 2016 the West Palm Beach Rotary Club welcomed fellow Rotarian, Lawrence Siegel, Executive Director of Safe Water International, an all-volunteer, Santa Barbara-based non-profit that works to improve drinking water and sanitation in poor rural villages. Larry grew up in California and attended Saint Mary’s College of California. He has a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University. It was in Vietnam, of all places, that Larry’s interest in drinking water began. He served there on a U.S. Army civil affairs team that was frequently asked to dig water wells or find ways to provide drinking water to rural villages. When he returned home, Larry worked in Washington, D.C. as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House and Senate. One of his earliest tasks was to help draft the “Safe Drinking Water Act of 1973”. He also worked on passage of the “Rural Drinking Water Act” to address the 3 million Americans who in the early 1970’s did not have indoor drinking water. In 1994, Larry and a few who had collaborated on federal drinking water policy established Safe Water International. (www.safewaterintl.org) Safe Water International began focusing on involving the commercial marketplace to help address the 1.5 billion people (then estimated) to have only contaminated water to drink. With help from private donors and Rotary Foundation Grants, SWI has since undertaken drinking water projects in Mexico, Bolivia, Cambodia, Malawi and Guatemala.
In 2015, Larry joined the board of the Water and Sanitation Rotary Action Group (WASRAG) and served for two years as Chair of the group’s technology committee. WASRAG was formed in 2007 by a group of Rotarians, recognized by Rotary International, and focused on WASH projects. Since then it has facilitated many hundreds of projects – helping clubs find partners, ensuring sustainability, stressing the importance of a needs-driven approach, and developing best practices.
WASRAG or Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, supports Rotarians and Rotary clubs around the world to successfully participate in sustainable water & sanitation projects by providing reliable planning and alternative sources of of matching grants.
For more information on Water and Sanitation Rotary Action Group (WASRAG) log on to their website at http://www.wasrag.org/.