Engineers Without Borders Travels to Guatemala

By Heather Pribil,

Missouri University of Science and Technology’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders traveled to Nahualate, Guatemala to continue its work to aid in providing access to safe drinking water for the community of around 3,000 people. The group was in Guatemala from Saturday, January 16th through Monday, January 18th, and during their time there continued work on implementing their full plan for a water distribution system.

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Photo Source: Saki Urushidani

Due to time restrictions, this trip was focused on meeting with the Nahualate community and company contacts in Guatemala, as well as evaluating the progress of their water distribution system. Those representing the team on this trip were Michael Steingraeber, current Distribution Sub-Team Lead and sophomore in petroleum engineering, and Matthew Baer, the current Team Lead and junior in ceramic engineering.

Meeting with the community is a crucial for the success of the team’s water distribution system, according to Baer. “For our system to operate sustainably the community must take ownership in the project and maintain it for the life of the system. To facilitate this community action we held a meeting with the community members in Nahualate to discuss the water project and what they need to do to help finish the project. The community already does a tremendous amount of work installing the distribution lines during our absence, but we have to make a transition to where the community makes decisions about how they will operate and delegate management of the water system.”

This project has been ongoing since 2008. Over the course of the last eight years, the group has accomplished a great deal, designing an entire water system with a sustainable water source in the form of a 430 foot deep drilled well, a 15,000 gallon elevated tank acting as water storage, and distribution lines to the community’s residents. At present, the well and elevated tank have been completed, and the distribution system is on track to be finished within the upcoming months.

“This is very exciting for the team,” said Baer. “I hope this puts in perspective the amount of work that has been done in the years leading up to this point. Each trip is a continuation of previous trips and a culmination of all the work that has been done since 2008.”

The team is currently planning to return to Guatemala in the summer, but until then they will continue to monitor the project’s progress and create material which will assist the community in operating the completed system efficiently and sustainably.