More than two centuries ago, the ancient mariner made famous by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge cried out in despair, “Water, water every where nor any drop to drink.” Beginning in 1993 and in response to a similar cry heard around the globe in countries deprived of clean drinking water, the UN General Assembly designated March 22 of each year as World Water Day.

In keeping with World Water Day and Rotary International’s theme — Make Dreams Real — the Rotary Club of Tallahassee is once again collaborating with the Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende to launch “The Los Torres Water Collection Project” in Mexico. Their goal is to implement individual self-sustaining rainwater collection systems in two villages of 434 residents, ensuring the provision of safe drinking water to every household.

According to Bill Webb, director of International Service for the Rotary Club of Tallahassee, water in the target vicinity is highly contaminated with fluoride and coliform. “Accumulation of fluoride in the human body presents an especially high risk to children,” he warns. “It can cause cancer, bone disease, fluorosis (mottling of teeth), and kidney damage.”

In addition to monetary contributions, Rotary’s social investment involves the training and oversight of villagers in the construction as well as the ongoing maintenance of the water-harvesting systems. Ideally, Webb sees this project being replicated by neighboring communities, with Los Torres serving as the model.

“Projects like this are very important to our members, since they focus on helping people help themselves … and save lives in the process,” said Maureen Thompson, president of the Rotary Club of Tallahassee.

In 2008, the Rotary Club of Tallahassee co-sponsored “The First Bi-National Conference on Diabetes” in San Miguel de Allende, which provided nearly 500 poor villages in the area with the knowledge and resources needed to combat Mexico’s No. 1 killer — diabetes.