Nahualate, Guatemala

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The Nahualate, Guatemala team’s summer 2017 trip marks the completion of a 9 year project where the team implemented an entire clean water system for 500 families. They are currently in a monitoring phase of the project.

Program Lead: Chadburn Barton (crb56c@mst.edu)

“The most important lesson I’ve learned from EWB is that love needs no translation.”

Background Information

Guatemala is a small country situated directly south of Mexico. The population of nearly 13,000,000 finds itself with many social issues and is one of the 10 poorest countries in Latin America. Guatemala is a diverse nation in both culture and climate. Culture varies greatly between the urban areas near Guatemala City and the more rural areas that comprise most of the country. Evidence of the Mayan heritage is noticeable widely throughout the rural areas. Since 2008, EWB-S&T has been working in Nahualate, Guatemala to help increase the standard of living within the communities. The organization strives to improve upon the mostly primitive accommodations that are widespread in Guatemala by cultivating an ongoing partnership with the country. Nahualate takes its name from the nearby river upone which many of the 3,000 residents rely on as their primary water source. Many of the other approximately 500 households use shallow wells and springs, all of which are contaminated by surface water runoff with fecal coliform bacteria.  The people in Nahualate have formed a water committee and have been taking steps toward a water system for their community.

Summer 2017

This summer the team returned to Nahualate to participate in a community commencement  ceremony in which we turned over the financial responsibility of the project to the Nahualate Water Committee. The project is a water distribution system that includes a 430 foot well, 15,000 gallon storage tank, chlorination system, and 8 miles of distribution pipe.  While in community, the team assessed the project and all systems are working as designed. The system is now servicing 500+ homes. Many community members commented on how the water project has changed their way of living as they no longer have to worry about the purity of their water. The community also has constant access to water, even during the dry season, without having to walk miles to retrieve it from the river. Our team spent some time explaining the financial sustainability of the system to the community so that they are aware of the importance of recognizing leaks in the system as well as the importance of paying their bills on time.

Fall 2016

Major milestones were reached during the Thanksgiving Implementation trip to Guatmala for the potable water project in Nahualate. The installation of a 20HP submersible well pump and the completion of the distribution system during a five day trip in November 2016 will bring clean running water to the 500 families living in the community. A team of 6 students and 2 mentors travelled to Guatemala to oversee the installation of the well pump and perform initial tests on filling the 15,000 gallon elevated tank. Working with our in-country partners the team accomplished their goals by pumping water to the tank and emptying the tank via the distribution system. The community of Nahaulate celebrated in this milestone and eagerly await the water system to provide clean drinking water in their homes. Only a few tasks remain before the system can be tested as a whole, namely the 3-phase power required to operate the well pump must be mended by the power utility in the area. We are working closely with this company and predict a successful start in early 2017.

Summer 2013

In July 2013, 12 students, 2 professional engineers and one Missouri S&T professor traveled to the community of Nahualate. Since the beginning of the Nahualate Program in 2008, the team has completed multiple assessment trips, drilled a 430′ deep well, constructed two well houses, and begun the design and construction of a water distribution system. Design of a water tower has been completed and the construction will be performed by a Guatemalan contractor in the spring of 2014. The Guatemala team knows that educating the community on these subjects is essential, so public education was a big focus during the July 2013 trip. The team visited local schools to provide educational demonstrations about basic sanitation and personal hygiene, and gave dozens of citizens their first taste of chlorinated water. Also during this last trip, the team dug trenches and installed 400 meters of PVC piping. As of late September, the local construction manager and the people of Nahualate have laid 3.6 km of piping. Since this project is so large and sophisticated, the Guatemala team is welcoming sustainability as a new overarching challenge and addressing problems with innovative ways that can be used in a rural setting like Nahualate.

Summer 2012 Technical Assessment and Implementation Trip

In August of 2012, a team of 8 students, 1 faculty advisor, and 1 professional mentor returned to Nahualate, Guatemala, on a technical assessment and implementation trip. During this implementation trip, the team moved the location of the well to allow easier access for the large drilling machinery. The drilling began as of August 8th, and the well is projected to be finished by November of 2012. The community’s water committee also met with the team to discuss areas where pipes were needed and started installing some of the piping. They also discussed the progress of the project and further plans for the future.

Winter 2010 Site AssessmentIn early Janurary of 2010, a small group of students and faculty traveled to Nahualate to do a large amount of surveying and water quality testing. The surveying allowed them to verify their prelimary designs and collect data to complete the design of a full fledged water distribution system to serve the entire community. They also held meetings with the community to allow them to bring up any new concerns that had come up since the team’s last vist.

The team is now phasing out the stages of construction and completeting the final designs. The next step is to finish fundraising for a project that will require an elevated steel tank and over 6km of PVC pipe.

 

 

Fall 2008 Site AssessmentBetween November 22-26 a team of students traveled to Nahualate, Guatemala to investigate a new water distribution project. The group spent it’s time in the community meeting with community members and leaders, sampling water quality, and gathering data about the community.
The people in Nahualate had formed a water committee and began taking steps toward a water system for their community. Nahualate is a largely agricultural community of about 500 homes.
The current sources for drinking water are shallow wells that fall short of acceptable quantity and quality. A local engineer developed a preliminary plan for the project, but the plan proved incomplete and too expensive.