GRAND RAPIDS July 1, 2016 – Rich Grant of Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) in Grand Rapids closed the 91st Michigan Water Environment Association (MWEA) Annual Conference and opened another chapter in his life recently with a special presentation on the Safe Water International Ministries (SWIM) ministry.
Later that week the 54-year-old professional engineer, principal and head of F&V’s water resource group was honored by his colleagues and wished good luck as he turns his SWIM volunteer efforts into a full-time job and becomes a part-time employee at F&V.
“I’m looking forward to this new chapter of my life and being at your side when you need me,” Grant said. “Thanks all for your kind words, support, celebration and gifts to Safe Water International Ministries.
“We’ll provide Safe Water equipment for many villages with your donations”
SWIM works to provide safe drinking water and meet spiritual needs around the world. Rich has been a volunteer since 2007 and board member since 2013. SWIM provides Chlorine Producing Units (CPUs) that turn regular table salt into chlorine. Using a CPU, enough chlorine to disinfect an entire village’s water supply can be produced in just five minutes.
Grant got started in SWIM when an F&V client Terry Butler (Vermeer Manufacturing) ‘grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and said we need an engineer to help SWIM’. Soon Grant was delivering the CPU units and training users in Nicaragua. His involvement increased to helping users design larger water disinfection systems for remote villages and cities in Nicaragua.
Grant was then assigned to India and Nepal to spread the use of CPUs to reduce water-borne disease where most of the 1.2 billion people do not have reliably sanitized water. The India project, which includes promoting the units as potential micro-businesses in order to create a self-sustaining mission, is still a work in progress.
“The immediate goal is to translate each CPU installation into a job to make this a sustainable operation,” Grant added.
Grant, who has spent countless hours at night and on weekends trying to reach the goal as a volunteer, will begin putting his full-time efforts into SWIM while becoming a part-time consultant with F&V.
“SWIM puts smiles on people’s faces,” said Rich, who has been trying to spread the word about the relatively small ministry for the last five years. “We’re eager to get our story out. As engineers and scientists, we need to become better story tellers to get the word out about this awesome chlorine device.”
“Here we are dedicated to preserving, restoring and enhancing Michigan’s water resources, yet 1.8 million people every year die of preventable water borne disease,” Rich said. “Approaching perfection here is good, but we should take our talents and inspire people around the world, training people to go out into the world to do those same kinds of things. I’ve been assigned to India and Nepal and that’s a really big place so it might take me a while. Our SWIM teams will continue to do it one village at a time.”
The SWIM presentation is just one 30 different professional papers and presentations made by Grant, who joined the firm on Jan. 27, 1997 and became a principal in 2006.
Grant designed and engineered several award-winning ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) projects that have significantly contributed to the betterment of the water environment such as the Bay County, Centerville, Plainwell, Berlin and Northport water and wastewater treatment projects.
For more information on Rich’s efforts, check out the SWIM website www.swimforhim.org.