- About Us
- Getting Involved
- Contact Us
On January 3rd-11th, the Ecuador team took their first ever assessment trip to the community of Agua Fria. The purpose of the trip was to find out what the community wanted from a water system, their capacity to maintain it, and technical data on where the team could get water from. The students and mentors collected data on water quality and quantity at all nearby water sources, conducted community interviews, held community meetings, and did a topographical survey to find elevation differences within the community. The river, which is the community’s main source of water, is contaminated by both total coliforms and E. Coli, a bacteria that can cause illness when ingested. The team did an educational program at the community meeting and for the children at the community school to show that the river water is contaminated and what they can do to treat it. The team will use the data collected on this trip to design the first phase of the project, and hopes to travel again in August for implementation.
This December 2017, the Guatemala team from the EWB-S&T chapter will return to Nahualate, Guatemala, to end a successful community partnership spanning ten years. In August of 2017, the team turned over the financial responsibility of the project to the Nahualate Water Committee. The project that was completed is a clean water distribution system which includes a 430 foot well, 15,000 gallon storage tank, chlorination system, and 8 miles of distribution pipe. The system is now servicing 500+ homes with clean, drinkable water every day. While in community, the team will inspect the system for proper maintenance and operation. This is the largest completed Engineers Without Borders (EWB) project to ever be completed by a student or professional chapter and was made possible by our team’s generous donors. Donors such as Boeing and the Salvador Foundation have ensured that Nahualate will have clean drinking water for the foreseeable future. Both the community of Nahualate and the Missouri S&T chapter are forever thankful for their support.
While in Guatemala, the team is hoping to start a new community partnership with Paraje Xecaxjoj. This community is in desperate need of a school. The team did a preliminary assessment in August 2017 to determine the community’s willingness and ability to support the project economically and socially. The new project will include a rainwater diversion system, gabion walls, and a school housing k-6th grade complete with a kitchen. Currently, the community has four separate single room buildings for classes; some grade levels share a single room due to a lack of space. Our team members, as well as the Paraje Xecaxjoj community members, are excited about working together on the project. During our December 2017 trip, the team will collect topographical survey data, soil strength and consistency data, and perform interviews with community members and community leaders. Using the data collected, our team will design a couple options. Using our alternatives analysis approach, the team will select the community’s best option and begin the construction process. Our goal is to begin implementation by August 2018. We are predicting the completion of the school project in two years.
The Missouri S&T EWB Puerto Pando, Bolivia Team began their partnership with the community in the summer of 2016 with a goal of providing Puerto Pando a sustainable potable water system. Just one and a half years later, approximately two-thirds of this project is now complete! From November 16th through November 27th, during Missouri S&T’s Thanksgiving break, ten students and two mentors traveled to Puerto Pando to implement a pipeline suspension bridge and a new water distribution system. The community has an existing water system serviced by a spring located in the surrounding jungle. However, this system, which delivers untreated water, had several points of failure that proves the water system will not be sustainable for the community in years to come. While battling the summer heat and humidity of the Bolivian jungle, students and community members worked side-by-side to connect the main water pipelines from the current water storage tank in the jungle to the distribution system in the community. The team ran out of time to complete the connections in individuals’ homes. However, prior to leaving, the team empowered the community members to complete the connections themselves, and they will soon be able to have water flowing to their homes. The pipeline suspension bridge spans approximately 226 feet and supports the water pipeline as it crosses the Arroyo Mayaya, a stream which separates the community from the spring source. Its completion was a huge engineering accomplishment for the team and took an extreme amount of effort and coordination between the travelers and the community members, all while communicating across two different languages. The team is extremely happy with the overall success of the trip and the steps that were taken towards completion of the overall goal of providing clean water to Puerto Pando. The team plans to travel again next summer to implement the water treatment components (improved collection dam, sedimentation tank, and slow sand filter) and complete the project.
This summer the team returned to Los Eucaliptos to monitor all existing projects as well as visited a nearby community, Erquiz Oropeza, to perform an assessment of a potential partnership. Everything previously installed in Los Eucaliptos is working as designed and all the homes with house connections have running water. EWB-S&T also talked to individual community members to see how the water has impacted their daily lives. Many community members commented about how they no longer spend long hours collecting water and are seeing little to no negative health problems due to the water. The team spent some time discussing shock chlorination and maintenance of the water system with the community before closing out the project and saying goodbye to all the friends made in Los Eucaliptos.
DSC_7062 DSC_7306 IMG_6317 Marlina Ycaguirre 1 DSC_6887 DSC_6960 20170519_084505
The team then arrived in Erquiz Oropeza to a warm, traditional Tarija welcome, followed by a tour from the community’s leaders. The rest of the time was spent interviewing community members about their current living situation and health concerns. The team also conducted a topographical survey of the area to gather the pertinent data needed to design a water system over the next few years. The team as well as the members of Erquiz Oropeza are excited to be working together and are hopeful for a successful partnership. To top off such an incredible trip, EWB-S&T spent a free day exploring La Paz before heading back to Missouri. Overall, the trip went smoothly and the team was thrilled to see such positive results in Los Eucaliptos and eager to begin designing for Erquiz Oropeza.
In Los Eucaliptos we had a few projects to implement this summer, all working towards the common goal of providing potable water. The biggest task was the construction of the well house. The well house contains all of the electrical controls necessary to operate the system. It was completed with the considerable help of Celso, the community’s president and a mason, and other community members. There was existing galvanized steel pipe that we removed and rethreaded to go into the well house, through a pipe tree containing valves, and out by the well. To avoid possible contamination, we decided to install lot connections for each house in the community. This allows each community member to connect water to their house however they please without risking contamination to the system. The last project we started while in country was the fencing around the well house. After placing the posts and gate locations, the community knew how to finish the remaining work.
The completed well house Digging out old pipes
Following the completion of our implementation projects, we inspected systems we had installed in previous years. We found that the houses suffering from up seepage had not experienced any more following the installation of a French Drain last summer. The distribution piping was in good condition and only required minimal repairs following saddle valve installations. Last summer, we had to patch leaks on the water storage tank. This year we didn’t find any issues with the tank.
We placed a big emphasis on educating the community on all aspects of their system to ensure sustainability. The community had a heavy hand in the construction of the well house, which provides them with an excellent knowledge of how to maintain it. The community has an elected water committee to manage the system. The community’s electricity company, SETAR, installed electrical connections necessary to operate the well pump. With the implementation of these projects, as soon as the well pump is installed by COFADENA, the well drilling company, water will be flowing in Los Eucaliptos. The community has the necessary materials and knowledge of how to shock chlorinate their system after it is completed. This will achieve the goal of our work in Los Eucaliptos and will provide the community with a potable water system and the knowledge of how to maintain it.
The team traveled to Puerto Pando, Bolivia for ~3.5 days and conducted an assessment trip to collect data and determine the community’s needs as well as their capacity to maintain future implemented projects. They surveyed the land, tested the quality of potential water sources, allowed the members of the community to voice their opinion of their most pressing needs, and evaluated the community’s capacity to maintain the projects implemented. The time spent with the community revealed that they will need an improved potable water system that includes a sustainable storage tank, sedimentation tank, water conveyance line, pipeline suspension bridge, and water distribution system.
A Bolivian bridge
Located deep within the Amazonian jungle, our team was not sure what to expect in regards to the community’s knowledge and ability to operate a sustainable water system. After we arrived, we were pleased to discover that they already built a simple, yet temporarily functional, water system with the knowledge, materials, and organization that they had. The community members had found a fresh-water spring approximately 2400 feet away from the community. From there, they managed to build a wooden tank, conveyance line, pipe bridge, and distribution system with functioning water taps connected to most of the land plots through fundraising and taxes within the community. Due to their extremely low incomes, the materials used will not be sustainable for long term use. The wooden tank is already leaking and rotten, and the piping used does not have a large enough diameter to move a sufficient amount of water to meet all of their needs. However, their ability to raise money and build a functioning system shows their capacity to sustain the new system once EWB-S&T has completed the project.
Walking through the community
Overall, the trip was very successful. The team spent 1.5 days in Tacachia, Bolivia in June of 2016 in order to monitor all of the existing projects and ask each household questions about water use. They found out that, although they were not using the spring water for drinking, they were using it for essentially every other need that they had (including washing clothes, irrigating their crops, bathing, etc.) Their preferred method of drinking water comes from rain water collection and storage. This rain water, alone, was not enough to meet all of their needs. The new water system that we implemented, however, provides enough water to meet, and exceed, their needs, and they are extremely grateful for it. They have had a few pipe leaks here and there, as well as the storage tank was disconnected several months ago; however, with every problem that they had, the water committee was able to fix it, showing their knowledge and desire to maintain the system and overall sustainability of the project.
Luis talking with professionals in country
Kortnee and Luis working on the pipeline that distributes water through the community
Overall the trip was successful and was a great learning experience for everyone that went.
On the trip to Guatemala this August, the team was able to accomplish their goals, set goals for the future, and learn more about this extensive project. After a long pause in construction, the team facilitated the largest delivery of construction materials in the project’s history. The team also was able to finish the elevated water tank’s fill line, work with the water committee to install water meters & pressure reducing valves, and open discussion with community members about the future of the project.
- Took inventory of well house and oversaw the delivery of the largest amount of distribution materials in the system’s history
- Updated drawings for the production of as built drawings of the entire system
- Presented water and chlorine safety methods to community members
- Heard community members’ concerns and questions regarding the system
- Completed the tank fill line
- Installed gate valve at the tank
- Made plans for a thrust block to be placed at the fill line connection
- Took as built measurements of the tank to design a way to connect the distribution line to the tank
- Assisted Water Committee president in installation of water meters
- Explained to water committee members how to install, the importance of, and locations of water meters and pressure reducing valves
- Discussed and measured an additional distribution sector in the future of the project
- Reviewed decisions and meeting minutes of the Nahualate Water Committee
- One of the committee’s most important decision was that water meters will now be installed by the water committee at every house connection