SolarWorld solar blog

Clean Water Part 2: Teamwork, Perseverance, and a Selfless Act of Kindness Bring Clean Water to the Families of Aucayo

Posted 10 October 2012 12:00 AM by Seth Womble, Engineer, Water Missions International

The town of Centro Union Aucayo, on the banks of a creek in the Amazon River valley of Peru, clearly needed safe drinking water. An earlier effort by a previous non-profit organization had created water infrastructure, including a run-down water tower with a distribution network and water-tap stands throughout the community.

SolarWorld solar panels and Water Missions Internation in Peru
Existing water tower prior to repairs

But they supplied the community with a diesel-powered pump to pump water from the creek. Unfortunately, the community did not have the money to buy the diesel fuel to run the pump. Diesel fuel in Iquitos – an hour-long boat ride away --can cost as much as seven U.S. dollars per gallon.

The previous water system also had filters to clean the water, but no method of disinfection to remove micro-biological contaminates. Clean or clear water can appear safe to drink, but can still contain invisible viruses or bacteria. This community needed their water filtered AND disinfected.

SolarWorld solar panels and Water Missions Internation in Peru
Centro Union Aucayo, Peru

Rotary and Water Missions International knew the village was committed to operating and sustaining the water system, but the additional seven dollars of daily diesel fuel cost was more than this community could afford. However, a solar-powered pump, using SolarWorld solar panels, would keep daily operating costs below three dollars a day, a cost the community could sustain. A Rotary matching grant of $50,000 was approved for the implantation of a solar-powered safe water project and healthy latrines for the village.

Work started last spring, repairing the old infrastructure, while at the same time, a safe water committee received training in the management of the water treatment system, and the whole community was trained in health and hygiene.

But during the project a major obstacle arose: The creek, which was to be the water source, was determined to be inadequate. A new water source was needed, but the Rotary grant did not include funds to dig a new well.

The problem was solved when two U.S. Air Force officers stationed in Charleston, S.C. learned of the financial gap and donated the money to drill a new well. The couple was expecting the birth of their first child later that year and felt called to bless others in Peru in response to being blessed with a child. With funds secured, well-drilling began and the well was completed in May.

After many more repairs and community development meetings, the treatment system was loaded up in Iquitos for a boat ride to Centro Union Aucayo, the same ride I described in part one of this post. The community helped throughout the entire process.

The solar panels and submersible pump were installed where the well was drilled and piped to the tower. The water treatment system, including filtration and chlorine disinfection, is now located at the base of the tower.

SolarWorld solar panels and Water Missions Internation in Peru
Workers install electrical line from the SolarWorld solar panels to the pump

Thanks to Rotary, Water Missions International, two U.S. Air Force officers, and SolarWorld, safe water now flows in Centro Union Aucayo, ensuring healthier bodies and brighter tomorrows.

SolarWorld solar panels and Water Missions Internation in Peru
Repaired tap stand brings safe water to the children of Aucayo

And on a final happy note, a healthy Sophia Noel was born in Charleston, S.C. this September to her very proud Air Force parents.