Last summer a few members of our chapter traveled to Guatemala in order to implement a water filtration system for Common Hope’s (an NGO) Antigua community. Cracks had formed within the lining of the community’s well, causing sediment and other contaminants to enter the campus’ primary water source. Sometimes the sediment contamination was so extreme that the well’s pumps stopped working, leaving the community without flowing water for several days at a time! Two summers ago a small group of students and one engineering mentor- Peter Kraut- traveled to Guatemala to assess the issues with the well system. We then came back to the US to design a solution. After a year of planning, our chapter then moved forward with an implementation trip last summer. Our team successfully implemented a multi-phase water filtration system. Water coming out of the system has since been tested and it is safe to drink! Furthermore, the system ensures that the campus always has ample water supply, even if the pumps malfunction temporarily. The system is also sustainable, and the community has been properly educated to maintain and operate it.

Our water filtration system was complex and effective. First the water was filtered through micron filters to remove sediment, and then it was run through carbon filters to remove contamination from pesticides. The water then flowed into a large cistern, which was designed to be kept full using a pressure sensor. The cistern was implemented to ensure that the community always had access to a large sum of water even when the pumps fail. The water then flowed from the cistern into more micron filters, and then through a UV filter to remove any bacteria. The whole system was designed with breaking points and test points in case parts need to be replaced or water needs to be tested in the future.

Our chapter could not have been luckier to work with a more fantastic organization. Common Hope offers multiple life-changing services for the two communities it serves (Antigua and Guatemala). Common Hope’s primary focus is education: not only do their campuses provide kindergarten through high school schooling, but the organization sponsors children by financially and logistically supporting students and their families. Common Hope also provides assistance in housing, and they employ social workers to create an intimate relationship between Common Hope and the families within the surrounding community.

Our chapter is excited to maintain a relationship with Common Hope going forward. We are planning another assessment trip during the spring semester. Our next project with Common Hope will be a rainwater collection system. The goal of the project is to limit the amount of water being used from the well to water crops and irrigation, as doing so would increase the lifetime of the well pump and our filtration system. In spring we hope to analyze the sites capacity for rainwater collection and the amount of water needed for irrigation, and then in winter we hope to implement a properly designed system.