Improvement of the Water Distribution System in Chaguarpamba, Ecuador: An Engineers Without Borders Program.

Halle A Miller, Amanda K Burke


EWB­Miami has been working on a collaborative initiative with the community of Chaguarpamba, Ecuador for the past four years to find a sustainable solution to disinfect the community’s water supply and provide an adequate supply of clean water. The project was opened in 2011 and since then the chapter has taken four trip to the community for assessment and implementation. On the first trip in March 2012, six student chapter members and our professional mentor traveled to Chaguarpamba to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the water quality. During that trip they identified fecal coliforms as the primary cause of water contamination. The health clinic overseen by the Peace Corps confirmed that parasites and diarrhea due to consuming contaminated water were the leading health care issues in Chaguarpamba. Therefore, EWB­Miami partnered with the Chaguarpamba municipality and community to engineer a sustainable water disinfection solution as well as work on a water source development project. EWB­Miami engineered a solution to improve capture at the water collection sites while eliminating pipe obstructions such as sediment blockage which frequently impedes water flow into the distribution system.

Another group of students traveled to Chaguarpamba in January 2013 to implement their solutions to these two projects, mainly an improved water chlorination system, as well as search for and test the viability of a new potential source of water for the village. At the request of the community, EWB­Miami shifted the focus of the project work in 2014 to building an AutoCAD map of their existing water distribution system. This involved collecting the data necessary to create a map of the city’s water system, such as the locations of the piping, meters, valves, and other parts of the system. Beyond the map, EWB­Miami found it necessary to begin developing a hydraulic model, made in EPA NET, based on the map. Currently, the city does not receive enough water to support its growing population and does not have a map of its drinking water system. The map and especially the model are necessary to determine the locations of leaks and areas where water is being used but not being paid for. By creating a map and model of their system, we can provide a way to determine what changes should be made to increase the amount of water available for the city of Chaguarpamba. 

The municipality is also considering constructing a new pipeline from an additional water source in the future. This project is highly dependent on funding, such as government loans. Because of this very long term aspect to the project and the fact that Chaguarpamba does have college­educated engineers, EWB­Miami and the municipality have come to an agreement to end our project partnership approximately one year early. Before a complete program close out EWB­Miami will take a final trip to the community to provide an updated version of the AutoCAD map, a complete hydraulic model, and training for the local engineers on how to use the model software.  

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