Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week Two Roundup

Hola, Julian here. Things that have happened:
  • Lucas's birthday was Sunday! Natalie and I bought a cake from Xela.
  • None of us really went on or finished the hike up Volcan Tajumulco for various reasons.
  • We visited the Puwalkox site on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: the holes for pipe between chambers are drilled in the Lower Pump Station and almost completed (by hand) at the Upper Pump Station; Hidasa, our pump supplier and contractor, is now on site; we collected water samples from Springs 1, 2, & 3 and conducted water quality tests; and the community is doing great work and progressing towards start-up.
  • The educational program continued this week. This included presentations, drawing activities for the kids, and Herbert and Natalie co-presenting some very popular water-testing demonstrations.
  • Herbert gave a community presentation at the fiesta that the Water Committee threw for us in the Salon. Everyone was very grateful for the work we were doing and presented us with awesome tokens of appreciation that I definitely did not feel deserving of as it was my first time there.
  • Herbert is boss, gave great presentations and was an effective voice. Our community relations would not be so strong without him. This is why he will continue to be a primary EWB-USA Rutgers contact for the community.
  • We paid Max, the pump supplier, who we are extremely satisfied with. The last payment will be given to him when start-up occurs. Max also gave us a 2-week maximum for the completion of the manual for operation and maintenance of the system for the fontaneros who will service the system.
  • We said goodbye to the family(!) and exchanged some gifts with various people, including Water Committee members. Sandy and Dave also exchanged their goodbyes with us! They left for Tikal in the afternoon on Thursday, while our ride came later, after a final educational presentation.
  • We're now in San Pedro and have had a relaxing, toasty weekend. It's 12 AM here, and our ride arrives at 6 AM. I'm writing this solely because we won't be in Guatemala for long tomorrow :(
A bunch more happened, but we will tell you more personally and you can also look out for the Post-Implementation Report in the near future. It's a work in progress and encompasses both the first and second implementation trips in March and August, respectively. There's also plenty of photo documentation incoming...

Although we left without seeing start-up or the water flowing, we all agreed that this was an effective trip and our presence was essential in GTD. Instead of concluding this post, here are some photo albums to pick through that will be updated as pictures are edited:

Antigua, Chichicatzeltanengo, and 1st Day in NSCI
Guatemala: Week 1
Upper Pump Station
Lower Pump Station

So visit the comments thread!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Photo Documentation of Site

Hi guys,

We took some photo documentation of the site, including the two chambers each of the upper and lower pump station, as well as the pipeline as it arrived for repairs. If you'd like to get to know the geography of the project better, then hopefully this will help and get you better acquainted.

Also, if you've ever read any of the post-implementation reports, you'll know that the hike is rigorous. Well, it is!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Ready for the weekend

Hi readers. I hope this post finds you well and warm in the states!

Yesterday we had school presentations to two classes of sixth graders and two classes of first graders.

The sixth grade presentation went well—Herbert was able to explain what our group was and the importance of the project as well as its implications in their lives. Afterwards we had the students draw pictures illustrating how water was important to them. We also planned to do a presentation with groups of students with our Easygel kits; we wanted to do a demonstration to illustrate why it was important to always boil their water and use it in a safe way. We ran out of time with this group but with the materials left outside, a lot of students came up curiously to ask what it all was. With such a group I used the water from the kitchen tap at the school to show how they could see the kinds of bacteria present in their water. They were very interested in the whole procedure and asked a lot of good questions. 

After we had the first grade classes. 

The presentation went about the same except with the teacher translating into k'iche'as some students had not learned Spanish yet. We all thought this was good because the teacher got the students very engaged by making them answer questions, making sure they understood what we were saying. The first graders loved the demonstration which we did outside. Once we went through the procedure ourselves the students wanted to try it as well. The results take five days to appear but I expect they will be eagerly waiting. 

In project related news, things are not progressing as we would like. The drill specialist who promised us could do the job of drilling holes into the wet well walls disappeared-- leaving the job unfinished. These holes need to be finished so the suction lines can be installed. Without these holes done at the upper and lower pump station, no water will flow to the community. Yesterday, the water committee went to Xela to find a person or a machine to do this. They found a specialist with a tool large enough to complete the job -in one day-but we are less optimistic. 

The repairs of the pipeline and other tasks that need to be completed have been progressing so slowly that we now predict there is a very very small chance that the system will start up while we are here. However frustrating this seems, it is of vital importance that the committee and the workers complete this project with little assistance from us. It is important that they have ownership of the project and understand what needs to be done so that in the future when something goes wrong, they can get the people, funds and work together to fix it. Their dedication to the project is astounding--from carrying materials down to the pump sites when conditions are hazardous to gathering people and extra funds together whenever something does not go as planned to housing the workers from outside the community and much much more. Even though this trip has not gone exactly as we planned, we know it was important that we are here right now.

But all is not so bleak, we have been told very many times how much our work is appreciated and by being here we have ensured that several things have been started. 

Last night the team made an impromptu visit to Xela to take care of some business and get a nice meal together. This weekend will be one of finishing up work in preperation for a (hopefully) busy week proximo semaña and having some fun as the students plan on taking a hike up the Volcano Tajumulco with the Quetzaltrekkers. (Check out their organization—it is very cool, all volunteer run and the proceeds to fund an orphanage here. They always need volunteers so check it out!) 

Since the last post there has been rainy days, site visits, a basketball game with Cata and Nancy, gifts to the family, a quick meeting with John Barrie and a member from ATC who will be acting to ensure the sustainability for the project after implimentation and more.

¿Alguien tienen preguntas?

PS: We have some pretty great pics but its been hard to try to get anyting up on the site. Will try other methods later. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dual Update!

Up first, the Goal List from Natalie:
  • Technical
    • Review current status of construction and document any changes made to plans
    • Assist with purchase of pipeline repair materials, document repairs made
    • Oversee pump installation
    • Once all construction is complete in the time that we are there, startup system.
    • Observe any problems and troubleshoot pump station and distribution tank shut off timings.
  • Take more tests of water quality at various areas in the system
  • Ensure that municipality and water committee members are in agreement about what needs to be done with the system. Review operation and maintenance of system.
  • Agree on a revised timeline for the rest of construction, start up and water meter installation.
  • Make presentations to students and community about water sanitation and conservation. Speak with teachers to incorporate these topics into future curriculum. Present new system to water committee.
  • Document incidence of water related health issues from hospitals or town interviews.
Hi everyone, sorry for missing yesterday.


Sunday, July 31:

Rooftop breakfast at Black Cat Inn was phenomenal. Natalie had French toast and fruits, I had the Guatemalan breakfast, and Herbert had the omelet. Natalie almost was given two breakfasts. Herbert and I started on Sandy and Dave´s identical orders by accident. With initial guilt, we finished up breakfast purposefully.

We checked out of the Black Cat and headed out of Antigua to NSCI with Adrenalina Tours. On the way, we decided to take Sandy´s suggestion and stopped at Chichi for some shopping.

The street vendors bordered the streets. We were warned about keeping alert because of the crowds and narrow walking room. All went well, though. Dave had elite haggling skills and refused any initial offer. Natalie and Sandy got away with shiny deals, including some handmade jewelry. 


Our driver let us pick up lunch from a national chain truck before we left and it was as welcoming as any fast food: fries, Pepsi, and chicken sandwiches. With food and in-and-out napping, the four-hour drive from Antigua to NSCI was like no time at all that we were in the clouds on the mountain roads which Sandy described as perpetually in construction.

Once we reached NSCI, we met with the family, settled down, and made a brief walk through the community and saw the church, distribution tank, and intermediate tank.

We got some work done at the internet café and returned to Angel´s house. 

At night, the water committee made an impromptu visit to exchange introductions and updates, and make plans for the week. Herbert congratulated the water committee for having female members. It´s important to have different points of views in decision making from the entire community.


Monday, August 1

Today was the first of many hikes. We went down to the upper pump station site early-- we left at 8 am. The terrain was pretty slippery because it was raining on and off so we had to take our time.

(More pictures soon!)

The community has been doing good work on the construction so far. Since we were last in the community they finished the construction of the upper and lower pump chambers, placed the pumps in both chambers and begun the drilling of holes for pipeline that will connect the wet wells to the pump chambers. We were able to get a look inside and we took inventory of what was installed. We spoke with Luiz, a member of the water committee, to understand what has been going on with the installation and what our expectations are. There is a lot that still needs to be completed before the technition from Hidasa (the company which acts as our contractor and supplier) comes in and installs the rest of the system components. Once the technition is able to do this, start up can happen. Some things that need to be completed are (our punch list):

1.      Install and program PLC

2.      Connect piping at Lower Pump Station to existing pipe

3.      Supply and install float valve for manual operations -discuss float valve installation and settings

4.      Supply and install pressure gauges on individualdischarge pipes and common discharge pipe

5.      Supply and install flexible couplings on individualsuction pipes (between the outer walls of the chambers)

6.      Provide wall sleeves and SIKA product for the suctionpipes

7.      Install 3” check valve on common discharge pipe

8.      Surge relief installation

a.       Connectsurge relief line from common 3” discharge pipe to the existing hole inthe electrical room (i.e. old discharge line from wet well), the air release(change elbow to a tee) or new hole in existing chamber.

b.      Drillhole in top slab of new chamber for surge relief line to exit if surge reliefvalve is installed inside the chamber

c.       Installsurge relief valve

9.      Install permanent pump pads and secure pump baseplatesto pads

10.  Discuss initial settings for pump operations and surgerelief valve

11.  Provide training of system controls and generalmaintenance of equipment

12.  Provide operations and maintenance manuals

13.  Provide complete wiring diagrams and schematics for allcontrollers, control panels, control devices and operators furnished