If you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, what do you do? Walk to the kitchen, grab a glass and fill it with ice-cold water? Imagine that you had to walk 4 miles to get a glass of water. And even then, the water available might not be clean; it could be contaminated.
This is the reality of many people living in the Ulpan Valley of Guatemala. And it is the mission of the Nashville Professional Chapter of Engineers without Borders to do something about it. But they need your help. So go ahead and Donate.
Note from the editor: About a month ago I received a call from Scott Andrews, asking if I had any GPS equipment available that they could utilize and leave with the locals for this project. They are teaching the locals how to utilize the GPS and map paths and water resources. They are still in need of funding to fulfill their goals and bring water to people in need. I donated and now I feel way better about myself . Don’t believe me? Try it!
In April, a group of local engineers, primarily from the Nashville firm CDM Smith, will travel to Guatemala to begin work on a long-term project to develop sustainable water systems for those living in the Ulpan Valley. According to Kevin Colvett, who lived and worked in the valley from July 2011 to June 2012, traveling 4 miles for water in this part of the world is not an exaggeration, though there are instances in this valley when the distance might be shorter; however, water conditions at those locations may not be ideal.
“In wetter times, they can find some springs to utilize, but the problem is those springs are unprotected and can get contaminated easily, especially when the women wash the family’s clothes in their water supply,” says Colvett, who works as a project manager with CH2M HILL.
While the Nashville EWB group has some funding, their long-term plans will be reliant on the generosity of others.
“Funding would probably not limit the initial trip in April, but funding could be a limiting factor in a follow-up trip to construct new facilities for communities there,” says Colvett. According to Colvett, similar projects for villages with 600 to 1,000 people have cost between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the proximity of the water source and the size of storage tanks. “There is a master plan to provide water to multiple villages — some of which the EWB team will be mapping in April — and future funding could determine whether one, two or up to five additional villages receive a new water system,” says Colvett.
Previous projects in the Ulpan Valley have been completed by other engineer volunteer groups, most notably groups affiliated with Lipscomb University, Knox ProCorps and the engineering firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon. The success of those efforts suggests these projects are feasible and of benefit to the communities they serve.
The April trip planned by the Nashville EWB chapter will focus on locating the nearest available water source and determining the best steps to deliver that water to the community. Colvett says the assessment will include discussions with people in the community in order to collect baseline data from residents on how water impacts their daily lives.
“We will provide piping to convey water from the source to central locations in the community — churches, the school and clusters of homes. The goal is to have no one in the community walk more than 15 minutes to get water,” says Colvett.
Colvett says making water accessible to the local school is a top priority for the team.
“Without water nearby, the children have to spend a large part of their day simply walking to water sources and carrying water back home, so there is little time for school,” says Colvett.
Donations and Hockey Games
Those interested in making a donation to this effort may do so by visiting http://ewb-nashville.org/donate/. In addition, tickets purchased for the upcoming Predators against the St. Louis Blues (April 9) will result in a portion of proceeds going to the Nashville EWB chapter. Tickets must be purchased at the following link in order for EWB to receive the funds: http://www.nashvillepredators.com/ewb. If hockey can support water, so can you!
Nashville Predators Game April 9, 2013
About Engineers Without Borders
The mission of EWB is to support community-driven development programs worldwide by collaborating with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects while creating transformative experiences and responsible leaders.
In December 2012, locals in Semesche, Guatemala, work on a water supply project as part of Project Ulpan. Knox ProCorps, a group of volunteer engineers from Knoxville, Tenn., led the effort.
The Nashville Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Border was established in 2008 with a goal of using engineering skills to do good and give back — beyond the confines of the office cubicle. The chapter is a vehicle for developing sustained local volunteerism, engineering outreach and opportunities to apply engineering talents in the developing world. The chapter has been involved with two international projects and is currently working to improve water quality in Guatemala. If you would like to join the cause or donate please do so here.