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Two-Years Post Construction

Lessons from a Sustainable Water System in Honduras

Originally posted on Engineers Without Borders Blog.

It’s been eight years since the EWB-USA Boston Professional Chapter first began working with 40 families living in ­­three rural villages in Honduras. These families shared a common goal: reliable access to clean water.

The story I want to tell today is how they still have clean water more than two years after construction on their water system was completed.

Our project team, of which I was a member for eight years, returned to visit their community partners in the Guaimica, Honduras, area for a monitoring trip in February 2016. Two years had passed since construction was complete on a water system consisting of a 250-foot-deep well, a new pump, pump house, 10,000-gallon storage tank and more than four kilometers of piping.

Measuring System Functionality

Inquiring minds were desperate to know if the system was still operating as designed. Good news: for the most part, it was! The monitoring trip revealed:

  • Minimal reports of issues with pipes, meters, boxes and low water pressure
  • Users are very satisfied with the 24-hour water access and are reporting a decrease in stomach and skin problems in children and fewer headaches
  • Water quality has not been an issue
  • The water’s primary uses are drinking, cooking, laundry, dishes and bathing; through observations it was noted that clean water storage containers are being used and the pilas (large outdoor storage units) are being cleaned regularly
  • Monthly tariffs are being paid by most families, and they feel the rate is fair
  • Tariffs have padded the Water Board’s bank account sufficiently to cover future maintenance and repairs

The monitoring trip was the final step in EWB-USA’s commitment to the project. Our project team’s final act was to share a few recommendations with the Water Board for gaining new members and managing system infrastructure. The community recognizes and owns that it’s their responsibility to keep this system functioning optimally for years to come without outside support….

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Head over the EWB-USA Blog to read more about what these engineers identified as the keys to project success.