Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pasmata Water Project - Progress Update 8/20/2011



8/8-8/20, 2011

Settling into Jalapa: My wife Jessie and I showed up in Costa Rica around 2:00pm on August 8th. After some communication and logistical difficulties at the Costa Rica airport, we managed to be put on the right bus from the airport to a specific barrio in San Jose, where we found our Hostel right quick. The place was nice, and we stayed there until our bus trip on the Tica bus to Managua, one of the more dark feeling cities I have ever visited. No skyscrapers (none that I could see at least), just a ubiquitous gloom that seemed to cling to everything and everyone. We took the bus that morning, an uncomfortable yet hilarious ride to Jalapa, about a 6 hour trip. We stayed that night at El Pantano, a farm like feel in a rustically comfortable room. On a whim we met Karla, sans internet, as if by some sort of devine influence, and hit the ground running. That woman gets people moving, and gets things accomplished, like a newly divorced Wall Street fat cat, and does it with a grace and light that I have seen in only a few people in my life. We found a hotel (Hotel Jonathan) to stay at for a few days while we looked for a place to rent. We were blessed quickly with a place per Karla’s probing, and are now staying in a partitioned room of the daughter in law and two granddaughters of Dona Norita (Nora). After building a few shelves, placing sheets to act as a ceiling over the exposed tin roof, and getting some bedding (oh and abed), the place feels like home, and Jessie and I now have a headquarters base to get some work done!

Project Goals: To date the project goals while I am here in Jalapa for these 4 months (August 9th – December 10th 2011) are specifically to:

• Validate a new water source by running bacteriological, chemical, and parasite testing, while also performing a topographical survey to ascertain adequate hydraulic pressures from head at future domestic tap stands. The new source will be upstream from a unprotected source currently used, which has been shown to have high fecal coliform counts. During this
time…

• Run the gambit of permitting and water use law understanding for the new source (we’ll call it Las Piedras after the name given to the source of Las Piedras del Indio) with farm land owners, where piping will be passed, and clarification of community and Jalapan government buy in.

• Approve the water source based on permitting and water quality

• Use given turbidity, flow, bacteriological, chemical, parasite test data to design any needed sedimentation basins, sand filters, chlorine dosing along with needed pressure release, cleanout valves and other miscellaneous piping and equipment. Using these designs, it will be possible to ascertain the hours of labor and material costs.

• Continue to develop and hone in on a good water committee that we can train (we already have a group of about 5 committed folks, led by the rock star leader, Karla Pozo), along with finding and training a “circuit rider”, a person that will maintain the system: gather monthly tariffs, fix problems..etc. , and work with us and the Automated Metering Infrastructure (in the progress of being developed), radios to communicate real time water use over the internet to be monitored by Travis and I and possibly presented to associated donors..etc.

• Create a draft of an Operations, Monitoring and Evaluation plan for use when the project is completed (very important)

• Develop a transparent plan for construction, outlining a work schedule and management tool that the person coming to fill my place in November (1 month overlap at the minimum), will be able to use and build on.

• Other………

Thus Far, the following progress has been made

• Jalapa Government Design Collaboration: Contact with the Alcalde and department engineer Reyna has been made, and preliminary project designs are being constructed given…

Topographic mapping: GPS topographic data, which was run on August 16 and 19 to get a preliminary idea of available pressure from hydraulic head, for the length of pipe needed for the conduction line, and distribution line (madre tuberia), considering that we are using the current water distribution lines once we hit the community grid. A rough idea of the number of houses and house locations was also marked with GPS way-points.




Current Water Committee: I met with the current water committee of Pasmata, lead by Karla Pozo (members Julia (secretary), Sulema (Fiscal), Francisco (president), Luis (vocal), and Esmeralda (treasury), and we began to discuss times for weekly planning meetings, and planned last weeks GPS run, and project goals of the week….

Laws and Water Rights: On Wednesday, August 17 we had a workshop to go over a new water committee called CAPS, which stands for Committee of Agua Potable and Sanitation, and is through the INAA, and law No 722, to have rights to form a committee with certain rights, outlined in the meeting. The whole water team was in attendance. The process of jumping on board with a CAPS requires national approval (a bunch of bureaucratic forms sent to Managua).

Water Quality Testing: Department engineer in Jalapa, Reyna and I met to talk with folks at MINSA (a national water testing group), to figure out how to acquire tests for chemicals (from pesticides used upstream), as well as parasites, such as giardia and cryptosporidium pi. We are waiting for more information on how we can acquire testing, since I haven’t found anyone here who knows what cryptosporidium eve. I also spoke with Greg (last name) an old FCP field worker who spent a great deal of time installing water projects in Jalapa, who now lives in Leon, Nicaragua, and he made recommendations per his own knowledge and the contacts and knowledge of his wife who did water testing in Managua for some time. They have given me some leads in Managua that I will probe for next week. Knowing what’s in the water is of the upmost importance before forking out thousands of dollars to install a project.

Reyna made a suggestion that we look for statistics of cases of parasites and evaluate parasites in the water from that angle. This idea makes me uneasy for so many reasons.

Thus far we have nutrient and bacterial tests for the Piedras source and current source, which does in fact show a appreciable decrease in total fecal coliforms going upstream from the current source (~50col/100ml to ~14/100ml), but surely indicates the need for chlorination, as these tests show that while there may not be harmful pathogens in the water, their certainly is poop in there.

Local Donor and Land Owner Meetings: Karla and I are working together to create times to meet with local farmers and to go over the CAPS law book and acquire forms necessary to apply as a CAPS member, gaining the rights thereby granted (or whatever, I’m not a lawyer :)). We are also planning to meet the president of Somoto’s Rotary club (nearby town to Jalapa), as Travis has been hard at work meeting with local Rotary contacts in Boulder (and in Denver Travis?)

Pending Activities:

• Preliminary design of system for an understanding of project donor needs, designing with two different programs (EPAnet) and with GoodWater V1.1 from a well known professor at the University of Florida to check the designs both by the EPAnet software as well as the designs by the department of the alcalde. This design is likely to entail:

o Conduction line and distribution line diameters, lengths, and spatial location.
o Storage tank (for peak demand times)
o Chlorination tank
o Filter (potentially)
o Sedimentation Tank (likely, the water turbidity is 40 NTU)
o Miscellaneous items I’m forgetting


• Meeting with Somoto Rotary Club to talk over the details of the project, and to hopefully gain support from them in some capacity.

• Conduct the needed water tests to feel sure that this source is going to be an improvement.

• Meeting with the farmers to get written agreements stating that we can use their land to lay the pipes, and to use a agreed upon amount of water through the controlled restraining of Las Piedras (from what it looks like if we can use even 1/10 of the available water that should sustain Pasmata for years to come.

• Continue to make community visits to get to know people, and to listen to their needs and hear the whole story.

I love this work! More posts in the weeks to come!

1 comment:

Tim said...

How about looking to the local Lions club too?

Don't forget Karl Yost and Water Teckonics if you need a filter... Perhaps they would donate?????