Alumnus founder of clean water charity to speak at SUNY Oswego


October 29, 2018

Steve Surprenant, a 1984 alumnus of SUNY Oswego and the founder and director of the international nonprofit Fresh Water Friends, will deliver a lecture at his alma mater at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Marano Campus Center auditorium, Room 132. The event is free and open to the public.

Surprenant will speak on “Transforming Lives … Just Add Water!” in conjunction with SUNY Oswego’s Grand Challenges Project: Fresh Water for All. He will be joined by Prakash Lingappa, who was born and raised in a small village in south India and now helps supervise well drilling operations for Fresh Water Friends.

A geology major, Surprenant worked as an environmental geologist in Florida and New York, working on and supervising drilling rig operations for industrial and residential clients for many years.

After a trip to India in 2002, Surprenant realized his skills could be put to use to transform lives by providing easier access to water for people in India who were living in poverty and laboring to find clean water. He and his wife, Cheryl Cope Surprenant, a 1986 SUNY Oswego psychology graduate, founded the public charity to pool “teams of friends” to fund deep water wells for the churches and villages of India.

Since its founding, Fresh Water Friends has completed 45 bedrock wells in India that now serve the needs of more than 40,000 people daily. A dozen more projects are underway, and they hope to start new projects in Pakistan next.

During his visit to campus, Surprenant will discuss ideas for meeting water needs, including the various technologies available to help people get clean water and how everyone can play a role in addressing the water crises.

Together, he said, humanity can move the needle on this important issue facing the world.

About Grand Challenges: Fresh Water for All

This fall, SUNY Oswego began its two-year project to tackle a major global issue, Fresh Water for All. Through cross-campus collaborations, the college community is researching and exploring the issue of fresh water through student assignments, co-curricular projects, lectures, service learning, civic engagement initiatives and artistic interpretations. The hope is to help find solutions to the world's grand challenges. Learn more at the

People needing accommodations to attend the lecture should contact the Alumni Office at or 315-312-2258 in advance.