ESSEX Sometimes the best way to help is by preventing problems.
Paul Gutmann of Lake Placid has been working to prevent the water-borne illnesses in the Dominican Republic through the Prescribing Prevention program. He recently attended Downtown Essex Day on Aug. 4 to raise awareness of the problems facing the Caribbean country.
When asked about how long hed been involved in the project, Gutmanns response is immediate.
Not long enough, he said.
Gutmann became aware of the Dominican Republics issues with potable water about 10 years ago. His church, St. Eustace Episcopal Church, has sponsored a medical mission annually to Gautier and at Buen Pastor, but 80 percent of the time was used to treat water borne illnesses that could be easily prevented.
That was shocking to Gutmann, who ran the Lake Placid Waterworks for 27 years before retiring.
You have to treat the water before you drink it its a fact of life, said Gutmann. Theres no reason to have waterborne diseases.
It wasnt until after he retired that he became involved in seeking a solution.
I knew I had the expertise to be able to solve any water problem in the Dominican Republic, said Gutmann.
Gutmann researched the different tactics being implemented by other experts, and decided that Dr. Pedro Bernals home filtration system as the most efficient, practical solution. The systems, consisting of two buckets, filter and chlorinate water, and cost about $40.
Over the past two years, the Lake Placid-based project has raised $8,000 so that 200 home water purifiers could be purchased. The
Last March, Gutmann joined his churchs medical mission to teach people how to use and maintain the systems. The systems are distributed to interested parties for a minor fee to ensure the materials arent resold.
Reverend Eileen Weglarz of St. Johns Episcopal Church said the church hosts one mission fundraiser annually during Downtown Essex Day.