April 3, 2024

A water master in action


Michael Deininger is a water master. If you look up what this profession means on the Internet, you will find the following information: A water master is a water supply profession. Water masters are employed by the waterworks or a water supply company. Here they take care of our drinking water.

Of course, this is also what Mr. Deininger learned during his training. But he also learned a much more important phrase from his trainer. "As water engineers, we can make so much happen and change things for the better!" The man working in Dießen has internalized this statement, and as it has always been a matter of course for him to use his expertise to help wherever he can, it was also clear that his work would extend far beyond the local drinking water supply.

This year, he will therefore travel to Tanzania in July with Artemed Stiftung to our partner hospital in Nyangao and take a look at the drinking water situation there. Find out why there is no one better qualified to do this in our interview with this extraordinary personality.

AS (Artemed Stiftung): Mr. Deininger, we are delighted to be talking to you today. In a few months' time, you will be traveling to Nyangao for us to deal with the problems of water supply there. Could you tell us a bit about what awaits you there and what your tasks will be?

MD (Michael Deininger): Right, July is the time. I will be going to St. Walburg's Hospital for a good week. According to information, the problems there are twofold: firstly, the water is often not used with the necessary care by the population, there are problems with rusty surgical instruments, which may be related to iron and manganese in the water.

AS: It is not used carefully? How can that be when there is a shortage of good quality water on the other side?

MD: That does indeed sound contradictory at first. But there are no water meters there that record how much water is used and, even worse, it costs nothing! So there is no incentive to save water here.

AS: That's true, of course. What will be your task there?

MD: First of all, I will get a picture of the situation and think about how to get the problems under control - ideally through on-site solutions. One obvious solution would be to install water meters, for example.

AS: Are you already taking meters with you?

MD: No, certainly not. And I won't be including any during this short first stay. Instead, I'll see where I can get the right things in the region. During a second stay, I can then take care of implementing the measures. This also applies to the water quality in the clinic's water tanks. I'm familiar with this from previous assignments: There's a reconnaissance team that arrives quickly, sounds out the situation and then comes up with options for action for the subsequent "Team 2".

AS: That sounds sensible and brings me to the next point, your previous assignments.

MD: There are actually quite a few, on almost every continent in the world. I travelled a lot with the THW (German Federal Agency for Technical Relief), but also with other GOs (Governmental Organizations) and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).

AS: Then you have often traveled to crisis areas and have certainly experienced and seen a lot over the years.

MD: I guess you could say that I was mostly assigned to "Team 1". You go straight into the disaster. For example, after the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004 or the terrible earthquake in Haiti in 2010. What I witnessed and experienced here was a great deal of suffering and misery.

AS: Probably unimaginable... So how does a mission like that work?

MD: The phone rings - sometimes in the middle of the night. Then you have to get up, pack your things and a few hours later you're on the plane without knowing what to expect.

AS: Isn't that an enormous burden and also dangerous? For yourself, but also for your family?

MD: Fortunately, my wife has my back here. However, I've often thought to myself that it's good that she doesn't know exactly how dangerous it really is. My children sometimes used to ask me to stay at home when there were several deployments in quick succession. They are now grown up and socially involved themselves.

And yes, it's also very stressful for me at times. Both physically and mentally, of course. You get into a bit of a routine over time - for example, my things are now packed within a few minutes - but it's something new every time. I'm already happy when I get home safely.

AS: Mr. Deininger, what you do and risk your own life is truly extraordinary. We would love to hear your stories for hours on end. We are very pleased that you will now also be helping Artemed Stiftung with your incredible experience. We can assure you that the mission will not be so dangerous.

MD: Thank you, I hope so too! And I am very happy to be able to use my expertise in Nyangao.

AS: We wish you every success in Tanzania and look forward to hearing your stories afterwards. Thank you very much for the interview.

You can find another exciting interview with Michael Deininger at "We're not heroes, we just want to help." - WIT interview with Michael Deininger, technical manager of the Dießen am Ammersee waterworks and volunteer lifesaver - Wasser-Info-Team Bayern e.V. (wasser-bayern.de)

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