EWB Implements Water System in Cebadilla, Nicaragua

Students reflect on the completion of the first phase of this ambitious and important project.

Lehigh Engineers Without Borders Chapter in Cebadilla, Nicaragua

This August saw years of preparation pay off as a team of EWB members brought over 100 ft of PVC pipe and fresh groundwater to the community of Cebadilla, Nicaragua. Phase 1 of our water distribution design, which involved pumping water from a drilled well near the highway, through town, and up to two 10,000 L tanks located on a hill near the center of town, is complete!

Leading up to this exciting implementation trip, our chapter went through a series of approval processes with EWB nationals to ensure that the project was both technically and socially sound. We made technical drawings of all components of the system and communicated with Cebadilla weekly, at a minimum. Eager to get started, the community began preparing immediately after we received approval. They started trenching along the road and poured the concrete bed to ensure it drying in time to place tanks during our trip.

We arrived in August to complete the trenching, lay PVC pipe, put the tanks into place, and assemble the series of small pieces that connect the tanks to the rest of the system. The travel team also spent time connecting with the community, who were deeply engaged in accomplishing this project. Their involvement stood out to Deanna Kocher, a travel team member and Project Class Manager during much of the design and approval process. She recounted, "Men, women, and even children as young as toddlers were trenching. The kids worked with us to do most of the gluing."

Andy Curtain, another travel team member, highlighted the importance of strengthening our relationship with Cebadilla, saying, "Whether it was through eating meals side by side, digging trenches, troubleshooting the system, or even going to the grocery store, I felt that the travel team created an even more positive relationship with Cebadilla." These strong bonds with Cebadilla and their investment in improving infrastructure in their town are essential for continued success of projects in Cebadilla.

Understandably, some unexpected problems arose only certain materials were available locally and some aspects of the plan were no longer feasible. Kocher noted, "It was a learning experience in adapting engineering plans."

A few days into the trip, tank and PVC piping were successfully assembled and water started flowing! Kocher explained, "Everyone was just so happy to have water. Everyone took to the street on the last day to dig the trenches to their houses!" At least 10 homes have water on their property after tapping into the tanks' water using short stretches of pipe they purchased individually. A spigot near the tanks is accessible to everyone else, but soon through coordination with the local Alcaldia, we plan to ensure that all the homes in the community have access to the water.

By Courtney Lenzo '18

Lehigh Engineers Without Borders Chapter in Cebadilla, Nicaragua

Lehigh Engineers Without Borders Chapter in Cebadilla, Nicaragua

Lehigh Engineers Without Borders Chapter in Cebadilla, Nicaragua

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