Concord families, teams save water to build a well

Starting in May, residents will have the opportunity to conserve water and raise money to provide a remote, mountainous village in Nicaragua with fresh water.

This year, the money raised through Concord’s third annual Water Conservation Challenge will be used to build a well in El Uval, a small village of 400 in the mountains of Nicaragua.

“El Uval has been settled for 120 years and their only source of fresh water is brought in on horseback several times per week,” said Steven Bloomfield, chairman of the Concord-San Marcos Sister Cities Committee.

How it works

The Water Conservation Challenge, which is largely funded by the state Department of Environmental Protection and Massachusetts Environmental Trust, encourages water conservation and raises awareness about water use while participants raise money.

“Participants will be able to save water and raise money at the same time,” said Joanne Bissetta, Water Conservation Challenge coordinator and project creator.

Participants in the challenge raise money by reducing their water use from May through October. The Concord Public Works calculates participants’ average water use in previous years, and participants earn $2 for every percentage point reduction of water use.

Concord Public Works offers programs such as low-water use landscaping workshops and rebates for low-flow toilets, as well as many helpful water conservation tips available on its Web site.

During the Challenge, the water conservation savings are updated monthly. “This can be viewed as a friendly competition,” said Bissetta. “Last year, the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board went head-to-head.”

For more information and sign-up forms, visit the challenge's Web site or contact Bissetta at 978-318-3259 or

El Uval is near San Marcos, Nicaragua, a sister city to Concord. In a cultural exchange visit to San Marcos last summer, 13 Concord Carlisle High School students visited El Uval and saw their need for fresh water first hand.

“The people of El Uval have a lot of needs, and the people of Concord can help through participation in this worthwhile project,” said Clara Lemoyne, a senior at CCHS who visited El Uval.

“There was a lot of poverty, a lot of people with no housing, and no fresh water,” said Alex Gutwillig, a sophomore at CCHS.

Conservation for a cause

Participants in the Water Conservation Challenge raise money by reducing their water use from May through October. This is the first year that the money raised by the challenge is being directed to a single cause. In previous years, the money raised has been donated to various local community groups and organizations such as Gaining Ground and the Scout House.

“I approached the Water Conservation Challenge and proposed that the groups work together,” said Bloomfield. “This is a great opportunity for the people of El Uval and Concord to benefit from water conservation.” 

The fundraising goal of $60,000 will be used to drill and install the 300 meter deep well in the village of El Uval. While this is significantly above the amounts raised in previous years, “everyone is excited about it, and we think we can make this work,” said Joanne Bissetta, Water Conservation Challenge coordinator at the Concord Public Works.

“Several groups and families have already shown interest and signed up,” Bissetta said.

Families of students who visited El Uval last year have already signed up to participate in the Water Conservation Challenge, including the Gutwilligs.

“It’s not that hard to save water for a good cause,” said Gutwillig.

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