Siloam Springs, Ark.-based Pipelife Jet Stream Inc., the PVC pipes division of Johnson City, Tenn.-based General Shale Brick Inc., donated 15,000 feet of products to help two nonprofit groups bring access to clean running water to rural Alabama.
The PVC pipe was donated to H2 Alabama and the Water Well Trust to build 50 new water wells across a five-county area in the state's so-called 19-county Black Belt.
More than 30 percent of the families in the counties of Dallas, Perry, Wilcox, Marengo and Sumter have old shallow wells that are failing and costly to repair. They use bottled water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.
The donated pipe will be used in the water well casings. The tubular structures are placed in drilled wells to maintain the well opening.
"This extraordinary contribution of raw materials needed to build water wells will enable H2 Alabama, in partnership with the Water Well Trust, to provide safe drinking water for the first time to low-income, rural and minority communities in Alabama," Stacy McKean, H2 Alabama executive director, said in a news release.
The donations will go to households in the Black Belt, which gets its name from the dense, dark clay soil that is ideal for growing cotton. However, the soil is difficult to drill and that increases the costs of wells.
"This pipe donation will significantly reduce the cost of the new wells for the low-income homeowners we will be serving and will free up more funds to assist others," said Margaret Martens, executive director of the Water Systems Council.
The council established the Water Well Trust in 2010 to provide sanitary drinking water to Americans who have no wells or have wells that don't function properly or are contaminated.
The trust uses grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — $1.5 million in the latest allocation — and matching funds to provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells and septic systems. The loans have an interest rate of 1 percent with terms of up to 20 years.
To date, the Water Well Trust has been involved in drilling or rehabilitating more than 416 water wells serving 468 households across the country, many of which were USDA projects.
Jet Stream's donation raises awareness about the benefits of PVC pipe.
"PVC continues to be the material of choice for clean drinking water infrastructure," said Ned Monroe, president and CEO of the Vinyl Institute. "These wells will be working for years helping families because of PVC's durability, versatility and noncorrosive properties."
In addition to well casing, Jet Stream manufactures PVC pipes for municipal water and sewer, plumbing and irrigation.
Founded in 1948, Jet Stream is a division of General Shale, the North American subsidiary of Austria's Wienerberger AG, which produces construction materials, such as brick, stone, clay roof tiles and concrete block.