Ecuador: Ongoing Project History
Our program has been working with the Ecuadorian community in Camarones, located on the coast of Ecuador due west of Quito. Camarones has been without reliable access to water for years. We are working with the community to finally finish and implement a water distribution system to finally provide them with potable water.
*COVID-19 Efforts: Since March, the Ecuador Program has worked with our NGO, the Ceiba Foundation, to help locate funds for relief efforts in Camarones, Tabuga, and the surrounding coastal communities. The team also shared with Ceiba EWB-USA designs to implement hands-free hand-washing stations in the area.
You can learn about the specifics of these projects by going to our website linked below!
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of our water project in Camarones, Ecuador. Since the project’s opening in May of 2017, we have faced many hurdles that delayed the progress of construction and implementation. As a consequence of the pandemic, the community of Camarones has decided that they are no longer in need of the water treatment system we were planning to install. It is of utmost importance both to our team and to EWB-USA that the work being done by our volunteers is both needed and wanted by the community that it serves.
Given that our work in Camarones no longer satisfies this criteria, our team made the difficult decision to close out the project.
Although we were unable to see this project through to completion, we are incredibly grateful for your support and generosity throughout this process. It was still a valuable learning experience for our students to develop as rising engineers in the workforce, and we are excited to apply what we have learned to our next endeavor. Currently, we are in the process of submitting an application to adopt our next project. We hope you will continue to follow along on our journey, and cannot wait to share our progress with you!
Thank you again for supporting our team and organization. Our work would not be possible without you
After communicating with the community in Tabuga, we have decided not to build a bridge due to safety and staffing concerns.
Our Camarones project is in the process of being implemented. One of the water stations has been built, and the second one is being built over winter break. We are hoping to travel in August 2022 to continue the implementation process.
Camarones: In May, the Camarones Water Project team submitted the first draft of the pre-implementation report to EWB-USA. This summer, students worked closely with professional engineering mentors and notable community members to revise this document for final approval. Students will continue this work in the fall, as well as make plans for a future implementation trip in 2021.
Bridge: This spring, the Bridge Project finalized their design for a pedestrian bridge and started pre-implantation documents for EWB-USA approval. Students will complete this document in the fall and plan for a future implementation trip in 2021.
To date, our team has taken three assessment trips to Camarones to survey potential water sources, determine available materials, and gather community insight. Our most recent trip in August 2019 was focused on finalizing data collection and discussing plans with community members. We hope to move forward with a final system design in the near future.
Our Bridge Team came along to reconnect with the community and to reassess available materials. Currently, our Bridge Team is working on fundraising through grants and corporate sponsorships, as well as writing a bridge operator’s manual and finalizing bridge drawings
The EWB Ecuador group has successfully finished the Tabuga water project. The new distribution system delivers water to every member of the community who needs it. The chlorination system also was fully implemented. After this, the community approached the group inquiring about the possibility of constructing a bridge for the local school. Currently, students are released onto the highway after school is done. It is their only option since the school is surrounded by a river and ravine on three sides. This poses a huge safety risk as many students flood the highway. We are working with the community to design and construct a bridge that goes over the ravine that surrounds the school to the community. We hope that this bridge will service the approximately 200 kids that use the school every day.
EWB Ecuador has also started a new project. We have started a new project in the neighboring community of Camarones. They face a similar problem to our original Tabuga project. About ten years ago a few NGO's grouped together to build a large water system for Camarones and its neighbors. With poor project management, only a few tanks were constructed and no pump or electrical work was installed. For the past ten years, Camarones has had no water system for the past ten years. Our project revolves around finally finishing and fully implementing this potable water system for the community.
The wash station has been heavily brainstorming ideas to make getting clean clothes in Tabuga both easy and efficient; they have written a list of possible designs for the station, as well as, materials for it, and they are now narrowing down possible designs.
The Bridge project currently has a contact at the school and is working on getting a contact in Jama. They are also planning to talk to a mentor about information that they need to gather about for the bridge while they are in Ecuador this summer. They are also going to start on their pre-assessment report this week.
Our new water project in Camarones has been working on their agreement forms with the new community, they have already made a few calls to the community to try to get a contact. This week they are going to start on their pre-assessment report.
The Tabuga water project has been working on organizing all of their documents by making a big book about the history of the water project. The book will include everything that has been done to the water system since the project was initiated.
This trip marked the ending of our water distribution project with Tabuga. The final steps of the project began implementation on this trip. The sedimentation tank began construction and the potassium permanganate pump was installed. Also, a lot of great things happened on the operations and maintenance side of the project. A draft of an extensive Operations and Maintenance Manual was left instructing how to care for the water system. Additionally, a class was held which taught topics about water quality, piping design, and system design. Many people from the town attended the class and actively participated. We also received a lot of great feedback in the surveys from the class, as well as from interviewing community members by going door to door to people’s homes.
The trip also included assessment for the wash station project which included surveying and collecting feedback from the community. Other new projects were presented to our team as well. This includes a bridge project to allow children to safely cross a ravine from school to Tabuga. The other project is a water distribution project in the neighboring town of Camarones. So even though our water distribution project in Tabuga is coming to a close, there are still so many great opportunities and projects coming our way!
A lot was accomplished on our August 2016 implementation trip. For instance, rusting iron pipes were replaced with PVC in the pump house, an “H” was installed so that water from the pump first went to the water system before filling the cistern, electrical maintenance was performed on the circuit box in the pump house, a new ladder to the cistern was constructed, construction on the Bypass began, and there was updates to the chlorination dosage in the system. Most importantly though, our relationship with the community grew over this trip. We left technical drawings and helped water committee members understand the bypass design. This way the community could finish implementation without us being there. Also, we left more specific instructions on how to care for the water system.
We also received a lot of good feedback from the community. For instance, the people of Tabuga requested that a class be held which teaches more about water system design. Additionally, we came to the agreement that a sedimentation tank would be the next large item for implementation. This would help settle out metals and minerals which build up in the piping network.
As of now, the piping of one section of the community has been reworked and replaced with new PVC pipes. Valves and pressure gauges have been installed in key places of the system to allow better monitoring and maintenance of the system and a chlorination system has been installed to disinfect the water from harmful bacteria. Finally, float controls have been placed inside the water storage cistern and wired to the well pump to ensure there is always water in the system.
Following our successful assessment trip in January, we are now drafting designs and are planning to travel to implement in August. The current objectives include removing biological and mineral contaminants and improving piping layout.
We returned from our second assessment trip in Tabuga, Ecuador in January where we collected water data and finished a site survey of the town. This trip was a crucial step in developing our trustworthy relationship with members of the community and maintaining strong communication with them. We held meetings with the townspeople, and led workshops at both the high school and elementary school. In addition, we suggested immediate changes that the water committee could add that would serve as a short-term improvement of the system before we return in August for a large-scale implementation. This semester we will take the data we collected over the past two years and design a system that will meet the growing needs of the community and provide a clean and reliable source of water.
EWB-Ecuador just got back from their second assessment trip in Tabuga, Ecuador. Overall the trip was a success; our main goals on this trip included creating a complete survey of the town, continuing water data collection, and implementing our education program. We also held important meetings within the community and with local government officials.
As part of our education initiative, we reached out to students and held a workshop at both the elementary and high school for the first time. At the elementary school, students designed their own water filtration system, and performed a hands-on experiment filtering dirty water. With the high school students, we used 3M Petrifilm plates to test water for aerobic, coliform, and E.coli contamination. These workshops were a success, and students were really excited about what we had to show them. We hope this urges students to play a bigger role in the clean water initiative in Tabuga.
With the help of our two professional mentors, Dave and John, we were able to efficiently survey the major roads in Tabuga and determine the factors contributing to the failure of the distribution system in place. In addition to that, we collected water data daily, and sent samples to the State Hygiene Lab.
Before the end of our trip, we left Ingeniero Martinez (our main community contact) recommendations based on our observations of the current system. He accepted and understood everything we had to say, and we will continue to be in close contact to monitor any changes that they may implement before our next trip.
This semester we will take all the data collected on the January 2015 trip and use it to design a system that meets the needs of Tabuga residents and the demands of the growing population. We plan to travel once again in August to implement the updates needed for the distribution system to function properly.
This month has been filled with travel preparations for the upcoming trip in January. The team has recently been writing final design reports, travel protocol documents, and a long-term education initiative focused on working with the elementary and high school kids in the community. We will take 2 professional mentors and 6 students with us to collect water data, survey the community, and implement our education plan in the school system. The rest of this month will be dedicated to collecting materials and practicing for the trip ahead of us!
With our second assessment trip in January fast-approaching, this semester has been packed with preparation. We are currently working toward determining a preliminary design for the system to propose before the community. This design will take into account the surveying data taken on our first assessment trip, the water testing data previously collected, community health statistics from the municipal hospital, population projections, cost projections, and a feasibility analysis of the current system. Additionally, we are working toward launching an educational initiative in Tabuga’s elementary school, which would teach kids about their water system and the importance of clean water. While in-country, we will meet with the kids at the elementary school and talk to them about the project and about ways they can help keep the system sustainable in the future. We hope that including people of all ages in the education of the community on this system will cause this information to trickle into all generations of the community.
Since September, we have been busy organizing our team. We have a huge number of new members this semester, which has been both helpful and challening, and we have re-organized our sub-groups to better-distribute work and more efficiently meet our goals. We now have sub-groups in the category of Water Quality, Education/Communication, Cistern/Water Treatment Design, Distribution System Design, AutoCAD, and Grant Writing. These subgroups work closely together, their leaders meeting once biweekly to receive updates and thinking questions from the Project Managers.
We will be traveling again in early January 2015 on a second assessment trip–we have to take two due to the significant difference between Ecuador’s rainy season and the dry seasons. Before then, we aim to have developed a preliminary design for a system, which will come out of 3 design alternatives proposed by each subgroup. We will then bring this design and present it to the community, get their feedback, and take the measurements necessary to allow us to implement this design in August 2015. Additionally, our subgroups are dedicating time to the consideration of temporary solutions that could be implemented to at least improve water quality until we return later in the year to construct a new system.
The two main Design challenges currently faced are the high mineral content in the water and the faulty piping system currently used in the community. We will so receive water testing results from the state lab, which will let us know what minerals are in the water and causing kidney stones in the community members and solid buildup in the pipes. The faulty piping system delivers water to only a quarter of the community currently due to pressure issues, which is a product of the layout of the system as well as the diameter of the pipes.
Finally, we plan to involve the elementary and high schools in Tabuga in cistern cleaning projects, system education, and water testing. This will allow young community members an opportunity to learn and make a difference in their community, as well as help the system we eventually implement be more sustainable.
This august, five students and two mentors from the Ecuador project traveled to Tabuga for the project’s first site assessment trip. Over the course of our week-long visit, we geographically and chemically assessed Tabuga’s current water system, investigated alternative water sources, and spoke with the municipal government. Most importantly, we also worked to understand the wishes of the community, and we invested much of our time in a door-to-door survey, a community meeting, and multiple community celebrations. This effort was especially crucial in earning the trust of Tabuga’s populace, because, as we learned from the community, many past politicians have run on the platform of bringing Tabuga clean water, but none have followed through.
During our visit, we stayed in an eco-lodge operated by our NGO, the Ceiba Foundation. Although it had no electricity, no cell phone service, and minimal running water, it offered an abundance of hammocks and was surrounded by a beautiful dry forest. We were even treated to the sight of a family of howler monkeys, which took up residence near the lodge!
Overall, the trip was incredibly successful, and we gained valuable data about all aspects of the community and its water system. After seeing firsthand the current water system–a pump which pumps water up a hill to a cistern and then down to the community–it is clear that many changes must be made to the water purification system for the water it supplies to be drinkable. Despite these challenges, however, we feel that our bonds with the community and the municipal government are strong enough that EWB, Ceiba, and Tabuga will be able to work together to surmount these challenges efficiently.
The EWB-Ecuador team submitted the 502 chapter proposal and is waiting to hear back from EWB-USA. In the meantime, we are preparing to travel to Tabuga in August of this year. Our travel team will be collaborating over the summer to prepare to assess the site for the water project to be implemented next August. On our trip, we hope to collect extensive data on the water quality and current water distribution system, as well as begin to foster a strong relationship with the community.
Currently, the EWB-Ecuador team is just finishing up the 501 and 502 documentation, which we will be submitting by March 31st. Looking ahead, we are beginning to research the topography of the area, different potable water system designs, and the community itself. We are also brainstorming methods of gauging the community’s needs and wants more accurately, given the language barrier and their low rates of literacy.