Tollefson Wins First Global Freshwater Award

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Dr. Jan Tollefson was presented with the 2005 Lee Global Freshwater Visionary Award for saving countless lives in the Dominican Republic at the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference Friday in Traverse City, Mich. The Lee Endowment for Global Freshwater, a unit of the Inland Seas Education Association, recognized Tollefson for her work initiating the BioSand Water Filter technology in the Dominican Republic and transferring it to Haiti and Cuba. The BioSand Water Filter is a simple, low-cost concrete box filled with layers of sand and gravel, effectively filtering bacteria out of household water.

Dr. Jan Tollefson was presented with the 2005 Lee Global Freshwater Visionary Award for saving countless lives in the Dominican Republic at the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference Friday in Traverse City, Mich.

Tollefson has initiated water filter projects in the Caribbean. “When I first saw the BioSand Water filter (BSF) in Dr. David Manz’ shop in Calgary, the major advantages of this filter over other household water treatment systems were clear. I just knew I had to bring this low-cost, effective technology to the villages where I was volunteering in the Dominican Republic (D.R.). I never imagined I’d be recognized for my humanitarian work, but I am very humbled and pleased,” she commented.

For the past eight years she helped to integrate the BSF technology into the D.R., to transfer it into Haiti and now Cuba. The BioSand Water Filter is a simple concrete container filled with layers of sand and gravel, which effectively filters bacteria protozoa and worms out of water.

“My vision is not just about charity. It definitely includes starting small businesses to support economic growth and attempting to make projects sustainable. I want to help people work their way out of poverty,” remarked Tollefson.

She trained filter technicians to construct filters, developed another training program for community facilitators to install filters and trouble shoot problems in the field, supported the construction of filter making workshops, and fostered small business development.

Tollefson also established the Add Your Light Foundation in Calgary to coordinate fundraising. She successfully raised more than half a million dollars for a variety of projects through individual donors, as well as congregations related to the United Church of Canada. Additional funds for the BSF project have been obtained through grants from non-government organizations such as Rotary International, Rotary Clubs in the U.S.A. Canada, the Canadian Embassy in the D.R. and the Alberta Wild Rose Foundation.

“It’s been amazing to me how people have gotten excited when they see the results of the water filter on people’s lives. They’ve come to the D.R. to see the filters in action, then returned home to help raise more funds,” Tollefson commented.

In 2003 Ms. Leslie Lee and the Herrington- Fitch Family Foundation established The Lee Endowment for Global Freshwater (LEGF), a unit of the Inland Seas Education Association. LEGF provides funding for awards and projects which bring clean drinking water to those in need.

The annual Lee Global Freshwater Visionary Award provides seed money and recognition to an individual/ group whose innovative technology can be replicated worldwide.

The LEGF Advisory Committee recognized Tollefson as, “An incredibly dedicated and resourceful person with a vision that looks beyond the practice of medicine and tries to attack one of the root causes of diseases and poverty in developing countries- lack of clean drinking water. She volunteers most of her time to help those who desperately need clean water.”

For additional information on the Lee Global Freshwater Visionary Award and pictures of the BSF Project,

Contact:

Margaret P. Comfort, LEGF Director

Inland Seas Education Association

231.271.3077

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Margaret Comfort
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