FRIENDSVILLE, Md. (WBOY) — Water is an essential part of human survival and is often taken for granted by millions. However, even in countries like the U.S., water security is still a problem, leaving people like Roxie Umbel in Friendsville, MD struggling to find enough for themselves and their families.
Umbel and her two sons have been without a stable source of clean, potable water since February 2023. Despite owning a home in town, Umbel has had to drive to her local fire department for water for almost a year.
“They let me take a holding tank that I was given to borrow down and fill up anytime that we needed the water,” Umbel said.
The holding tank could only sustain 250 gallons, less than the average 400 gallons families use every day in the U.S. according to officials present at the drilling. The tank connected to a pump that would put the water through a hose to a sterilizing process to make it potable. Umbel and her family would have to refill the tank at least once a week if not twice a week in order to have enough for themselves.
With her daycare business and normal daily activities like doing laundry, washing dishes, and using the bathroom, little water was left over to do things like shower.
“What people take for granted every day, you expect the water to come out, you expect the shower to work, you expect your clothes to get washed, and when those things are hitting you in the face that it’s not one thing that’s not getting done, it’s this and it’s that, and then it builds up and then it’s ‘what are you going to do?’” Umbel said.
When Umbel’s well first stopped working, it was believed that the issue lay within the pump. However, things turned out to be much worse when she realized that the well had actually dried up. Wells drying up has become an increasing problem in communities that rely on it as it requires an entirely new well to be built or dug further down.
Brian Derner, a pump technician from Sperry Drilling said that melting snow that’s absorbed by the ground helps keep wells filled with water more than rain does. However, he said that as less and less snow falls each year, that refilling doesn’t happen.
Derner said that a way for people to keep their wells from drying up is to take quick showers, don’t waste water and don’t wash cars at home as it takes too much water, instead take it to a car wash.
Umbel reached out to Sperry Drilling’s President, Judy Bird, about how to help fix her water supply issue. When asked, Bird remembered meeting the Water Well Trust earlier in the year, which identifies families in impoverished areas that need access to clean water. Water Well Trust then partners up with other organizations like the Chris Long Foundation to help get them the water they need.
Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl champion, is also the founder of the Waterboys Initiative, which contains the HometownH2O program within it. The goal of the program is to provide clean water to places around the world, starting here in the United States first. Since 2015, HometownH2O has helped drill 16 water wells and has plans for more in the future.
Throughout the water scarcity, Umbel had to get creative while running her daycare business, even sometimes doing small “field trips” to her parent’s cabin 15 minutes away because they wouldn’t be able to have enough water to operate. Now, thanks to the donation, she will be able to focus fully on running a successful daycare and taking care of her sons.