While the hospital was being built, Dr. Mellon recognized the need for a steady water supply for the employees, patients and their families. He capped the spring emerging at Anger, several kilometers up the hill to the south of the hospital. Along with the Ka-Charles spring system previously installed by Standard Fruit, these two springs were the main water source for the hospital for many years. From the 1980’s on, deforestation led to flash flooding in the riverbed where the Anger-Lesforges pipeline was laid. During the annual torrential summer rains, the debris-filled high water broke the pipeline multiple times. HAS would then have difficulty functioning and the community suffered for lack of water. Over time, population growth around the hospital also exacerbated the water shortages.
With line ruptures becoming an almost annual problem, HAS needed to dig wells on campus to have more reliable water sources. In July 2005 the water line that had sustained the hospital for decades was almost completely destroyed by a major flood. HAS was forced to move completely to the well-based water system. Knowing the importance of potable water for health, and mindful of how rich a resource the Anger spring was, HAS and the nearby communities decided to redevelop the Anger spring as an important community water source once again.
After the 2005 flood, the community moved to recover all usable pipe from the old line, both from above and from below ground. HAS invited its friends with an interest in potable water, such as longtime supporter Canadian Roy Sheldrick, to visit the system and study the possibilities for building a community water line. The community also made other contacts, such as with the French Red Cross (FRC). In 2009, four years after the destruction, they were able to recover much of the usable pipe and relay it along a more protected route with help from the FRC. However, there was only enough pipe to supply two community fountains. The post-earthquake United Nations OCHA cash-for-work program offered training and wages to Haitians who helped with additional pipe recovery and with assembling building materials to be used for this project.
This year, Bruce Berdanier, an Engineer from South Dakota and a great friend of HAS over the years, found the resources to accomplish the next step, the building of a storage reservoir along the water line. It will accumulate water during the night for distribution in a controlled rotation during the day, and create the possibility for the community to chlorinate its water source. The reservoir is designed to support the current fountains and the planned distribution piping system. The structure in the accompanying photograph is the water tank under construction.
Step by step and stage by stage, the local community and HAS are finding partners to make the long-sought after goal of safe water a reality for thousands of people living in the areas to the southwest of the hospital. We at HAS cannot thank all of our partners in this project enough.