Working with the National Chapter of Engineers without Borders, and the local Non-Governmental Organization CII-Asdenic based in Estelí, Nicaragua, the Engineers without Borders Vermont Professional Chapter was able to design and help build a disinfection system for the village of Venecia.
Venecia is located in the north western part of the country and was established in 1984. The Village economy is based on organic coffee and timber production in a tropical highland climate situated at about 1200 meters above mean sea level (4000’). Just under 700 people live in approximately 175 homes. The water distribution system was originally designed for 95 people and the Village has experienced a water shortage issue affecting the clean potable water available for consumption as well as the availability for crop growth in the dry season.
In November of 2013, a team from Engineers without Borders Vermont (EBW – VT) visited Venecia to develop a relationship with the partners for the mission, collect data, and establish the goals for the project. Testing of the water supply revealed the presence of E.Coli and coliforms, and the water quality was determined to be the biggest issue.
In May of 2014 the team again visited the Village to strengthen relations with the community, and collect water hydrology data and distribution system data for analysis. The data was used to analyze the distribution system, develop disinfection alternatives, and prioritize potential projects. As for the water quantity the distribution system is hindered by a high point in the topography, “Punto Critico” which only allows two of the three water sources to reach the village.
Most recently the team visited Venecia in May 2015 to build and install a disinfection system consisting of a water meter, chlorine tablet feeder (CTI-8), and mixing tank with a sample port. The Team also distributed educational material to the local school and conducted a sanitary survey which gathered data about water use habits within the Village. Future work includes distribution system upgrades, and Critical Point excavation to improve the water transmission to the Village.
Engineering Ventures was a key volunteer sub-group in the EWB-VT team. Jeff Zweber preformed water distribution system analysis, Widge Currier produced profiles of water transmission main improvements, Bill Nourse designed and developed the structural drawings for the disinfection system platform, and Peter Gibbs helped the project management and participated on the November 2013 and May 2015 travel team to Nicaragua.
Peter commented about his experience “I had the honor to represent the Vermont Chapter of Engineers Without Boarders Vermont (EWB-VT) on two trips to Nicaragua. Together with the travel team we accomplished so much and helped the people of Venecia with basic public health issues. We hope to build on our relationships in Nicaragua and help more communities.”