In April of 2008, Sandy made his first trip to the Sacred Valley of Peru with his wife (and now DESEA President) Sandra McGirr and children. Trained the previous year at Canada’s Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) in the construction of concrete biosand water filters, Sandy’s original plan was to spend a year helping a small group of individuals who were beginning to install biosand filters in Peru’s highland communities. Before year’s end, however, Sandy and Sandra had decided to stay in Peru to establish DESEA Peru as a nonprofit organization capable of providing access to clean drinking water to high Andean communities.
Sandy served as DESEA’s water filter program coordinator and Director from 2008 to 2016 before taking on his current role as Director-at-Large. Among his many contributions to DESEA is his design of a novel, lightweight PVC water filter capable of purifying contaminated water and being conveniently transported for use in remote Andean homes.
Sandy is registered as a Professional Geoscientist with Engineers and Geoscientists BC with a focus in the fields of geomorphology and environmental hydrology. He has consulted for more than 30 years in Canada on a range of applications in agriculture, forestry, environmental protection, and land use. He completed a B.Sc. in Physical Geography at Trent University (Ontario, Canada) in 1974 and a Masters in Physical Geography at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) in 1979.
Sandy brings invaluable experience to the role of Director-at-Large on the DESEA Peru Board. His past contributions to numerous community boards in his home town of Tatla Lake, BC, his previous role as Water Program Coordinator in DESEA Peru as well as years of working as a consultant and managing large projects, ensures a depth of knowledge that is vital to his advising role in DESEA.