Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tuesday from Neha's Perspective!

Jaslin talked about her day Tuesday, but my day started a little differently. Rather than meeting up to visit the pumps at 8 AM, my team, consisting of me, Sandy, and Martin headed up to the Head Tank to start a study. Sam wanted to come too, but didn’t feel too good, so we sent her back to sleep. The team was supposed to meet the fontañero (water system technician), Manual, at 7 AM but was running a little late. At about 7:20 AM, the fontañero came and grabbed us from Angel’s house to point out that the tank was overflowing and the water was flowing all the way down to Angel’s street. We ran up to the Head Tank and immediately started our study.

The point of the study was to try to calculate flow and demand usage of each major pipeline in the community. We could then compare these calculations to the population of the sector to try to figure out if one sector was using an abnormally large amount of water. This would indicate the leak we were trying to find. To simplify flow rate data calculations, we asked Manual if we could open one valve at a time. The valves control which section of pipeline the water of the Head Tank flows through. When we first asked Manual to open Valve 4, the amount of water started decreasing. However, Manual then asked us if he should turn on the pump from the Intermediate Tank. We said yes, thinking it would give us a greater potential flow into the tank, but soon discovered that the out-flow from Valve 4 was too low compared to in-flow from all the combined sources. Basically, the water level started increasing and flooding where we were standing; we had to jump off the Head Tank with laptops in our hands to prevent anything from getting damaged.

The head tank tests involve using a tape measure to measure the level of water from the top of the tank. A measurement is taken every minute and entered into an excel file until the flow rate of the particular test appears linear, or steady. 

We called Manual back and asked him to please open a different valve and close the Intermediate Tank Pump. He came back and opened valve 6 and then closed the pump, but no longer seemed too willing to go with our idea of opening one valve at our time. Thus, valve 6 and 4 were now open. After about an hour of taking measurements, we had Manual open Valve 2. Thus our day continued until about 12 PM when all of Manual’s valves for the day were tested. We took a break for lunch and agreed to meet the water committee at 1 PM to do water meter readings of the ten water meters installed the day before.

At about 1:30 PM the Water Committee took us from house to house where the ten water meters were installed to do readings. Martin and I had a lot of fun teaching the Water Committee members and fontañero how to read the water meters. The team from the pump stations met up with us at the last water meter reading.

After finishing the water meter readings, we headed back to the Head Tank, which was now empty, to measure flow rates of each of the incoming sources. To measure flow rate of the incoming sources, we bought a red  “5-gallon” bucket from a local store in NSCI. We then used an empty gallon water jug to measure where five gallons of water actually hit, and marked the line with sharpie and white-out. Then, one pipe-source at a time, we time how long it takes the bucket to fill up to the line. Thus, we have five gallons per a measured time, or volume per time = flow rate!

A picture of the flow rate bucket test with Martin pictured next to our red bucket and a Water Committee member helping. Also notice vials full of water testing samples in Sam's hands on the left. 

We also took the opportunity of the isolated input sources to grab some water samples in vials for bacteria testing.

After finishing the flow rate testing, the team headed back to Angel’s house, and Sam and Austin prepared the gels for the water samples we took. After finishing, the students split into two teams, divied up the map of NSCI, and went out to try to collect surveys. Team Ericka, consisting of me, Jaslin, and Ericka, headed out to Chuicho, and Team Martin, consisting of Austin, Sam, and Martin, headed out to Paxocol and Chuacruz. Giving out surveys was difficult, as many shop owners said they did not live in NSCI, many families would not open their doors, and some members of the community were not very good at Spanish. We found it much more effective to offer to leave the survey with the family and to come back to the following day to pick it up. Team Ericka also accidentally stumbled upon Wendy’s house! Wendy is Angel’s oldest daughter and got married and moved out last year.

The team headed back to Angel’s house only to notice that a huge crowd and a lot of loud music was coming from the Municipality. The community was celebrating its 15th anniversary of being in their new location of Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan! At first, the team decided to try to get some work done, but when actual fireworks started hitting the sky, Martin called all the students out. Why are actual fireworks so amazing? Most of the time in Guatemala the fireworks, or “bombs”, as they are literally translated to, are kind of just rockets that go up into the air, make a gunshot noises, and leave a cloud of smoke. To see colored flashes in the sky was amazing. The fireworks drew us out of the house and toward the town center, where a band consisting of 6 brothers and 6 cousins was playing. The band was not local, and the locals did not seem to know how to react. Most of the town just stood there staring, eating the free bread and coffee provided by the municipality. However, our team found the music and the dancing to be fun and enjoyable, and we had a good time that night, even if our grooving to the music attracted some sideways glances from the locals.

Sandy and Dave found us at the concert, and after the band finished we headed back to Angel’s for dinner. The team worked on calculations and report work that night, before heading to sleep, with half the team promised to meet Manual at the Head Tank at 5:30 AM the following morning.

~Neha 


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