Water supply and treatment in

Tadazna, Nicaragua

Tadazna Nicaragua

In January 2016, the EWB-USA CCNY team was approved for a five year partnership with the community of Tadazna, Nicaragua. In this community, 46% of the population does not have access to the municipal water system. Those who receive water only receive water during limited times each day, and those who do not receive water rely on other sources such as springs, streams, or rain water. Thus, the first proposed project for this program was the design and implementation of 6 water wells. After two trips to the community and extensive data analysis, we are now working with the families to design a rain catchment and storage system and water treatment method that works best for them. These combined solutions will improve the lives of about 80 community members and will help them be connected to an easily accessible, potable water source. In order to do so, we have partnered with Bridges to Community, our in-country NGO, and a number of professional engineering firms to help in technical elements including Louis Berger and Langan Engineering.

The goal of this program is to construct and implement a water supply system that will provide potable water to the community members for daily usage. Along with this we would like to build a relationship with the community members so that we can continue to work on more water and infrastructural projects. In addition to increasing access to potable water, the community of Tadazna is in need of latrines, improvement of cooking stoves, reforestation to protect water sources, and improvement in the infrastructure of the current water system.

By working with the families to find a water treatment method that works best for them and is effective in providing safe water for consumption, we can help to decrease common short and long term health issues. Common treatment practices in the community, for those who treat their water, include chlorination and filtration. Nevertheless, water quality tests conducted on our second assessment trip revealed that, more often than not, the families are not entirely effective at decontaminating the water and therefore consuming harmful bacteria and other contaminants every day. So, in addition to holding community education workshops that stressed healthy practices and the importance of clean water during the second trip, implementing effective and sustainable treatment methods throughout the community will continue to be an integral part of our project.

While Tadazna has some basic infrastructure such as schools, a health post and a small water system, the community as a whole is lacking in many household services. Poorly-designed latrines, limited access to clean water, inefficient wood burning cooking stoves, deforestation and poor housing infrastructure are prevalent throughout the community. There is still much room for improvement in the community of Tadazna, but with caring and hard working families and passionate members of our team, the possibilities are endless.

The Community

Tadazna is a small rural community located 18 kilometers from the municipal town of Siuna in Nicaragua. The population consists of about 800 people, or 160 households. Tadazna has basic infrastructure but it still struggles in fulfilling the basic needs of the community members. Currently 46% of population does not have access to potable water and must trek long distances to obtain water from open, often contaminated, sources. The rest of the community is connected to a municipal water distribution system.

The community has been working with the local NGO Bridges to Community on many other projects. The main path of communication between EWB-USA CCNY and the leaders of Tadazna has been through this local NGO Bridges to Community.

Geographically, Tadazna is located on the foot of a mountain and in proximity of a river. Half of the community is connected to a municipal gravitational water system. This system originates from three water sources located on top of the mountain. The other half of the community is not connected to the system and the main road; they collect water from the local river and natural water wells around the community. The community is mainly driven by agriculture and raising livestock.

1st Assessment Trip

In June 2016 we took our first assessment trip to the community in order to collect necessary data that would allow for the start of well design.The travel team was composed of Dr. Kyle McDonald, the team’s travel mentor and professor in CCNY’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and five of the organization’s members – Jian Cao, Andrea Iguina, Jillian Panagakos, Rodrigo Ulloa, and Isabel Zayas.  Throughout their five days in the community, the team got to learn about the community’s culture through visiting beneficiaries in their own homes and conducting interviews. The opinions and thoughts of the community members involved are vital to the design and implementation of the project.

“The main goal of this assessment trip was to create strong ties and trust with the community. We were definitely able to accomplish this task. Everyone we met there welcomed us with open arms, let us in their homes, allowed us to meet their families, and were more than happy to cooperate with us.”

During this trip they met twice with the community’s water committee and visited the home of each beneficiary family to conduct interviews and collect water samples, water quality information, and topographical data.

On their way back, the EWB-USA CCNY team knew a second assessment trip was needed in order to collect additional data and continue our ongoing relationship with the community. Despite the hundred of miles of separation between the community of Tadazna and our office at CCNY, we kept strong relations and communication with the beneficiaries. With the constant help of of Louis Berger, Langan, and mentors Prof Wittig and Prof Piasecki, the team began to prepare for the next trip. The entire EWB-USA CCNY team was extremely excited and fortunate to continue our five-year partnership with Tadazna.

2nd Assessment Trip

After analyzing the data from the first trip, the team began to diverge away from wells. The team began to realize houses were too far apart to make the wells communal. To add on, the difficulties of bringing a drill rig to mountains further complicated the situation. More data was needed to decide what the best solution could be. The team prepared themselves not only to collect more technical data, but also with an educational initiative.

The summer of 2018, the team took its second assessment trip led by Zoe Filopoulos, Rodrigo Ulloa, Dharia Silas, Jackey Liu, Chantal Garrido and mentor Adrian Diaz. The main goal of the trip was to collect all necessary data to transition into the design phase of the project. This includes supplemental water quality tests, collection of geographic data, and interviews with the beneficiaries. We also held educational workshops about clean water and healthy practices at various schools throughout the community for both children and adults.

The travel team has returned with not only valuable information to progress the project, but also an even greater passion for it. Living in the community and fostering relationships with the families was a once in a lifetime experience. Despite lack of access to many important resources like potable water, the community still remains very humble while also working hard with ambition to better their situation. With the travel team back in New York, the international project team is working diligently to analyze the data and design an appropriate, sustainable solution for each family. The project team will discuss the data with mentors and faculty advisors to decide on solutions to implemented for the community.

Where We Are Now

We have continued to analyze the data and fill out the required post-assessment documents from the previous trip. Currently, we are beginning the design phase of the project and preparing ourselves for this upcoming spring semester. As the start of the semester approaches, we are excited to meet the new wave of students who wish to be part of EWB and our partnership with Tadazna. In the meantime, we are also planning to take an implementation trip in the winter of 2019.