Orange County Branch Newsletter

July 2012

Secretary's Column

EWB-USA OC Honduras Water Project

By Gary Gilbert, PE, GE

In my first article in October 2011, I discussed my involvment in Engineers Without Borders-USA Orange County Professional Chapter (EWB-USA OC.  Now I would like to provide an update on a project that I have been intimately involved in for the last 2 years, the Honduras Water Project in Juticulpa Honduras.  EWB-USA OC decided two years ago to continue their successful project in Juticulpa, Honduras with two communitties who are in need of a water distribution system.  The project consists of designing and constructing a water distribution system in the communities of Barrio Lempira and Colonia Lempira in Juticulpa, Honduras.  The project will distribute clean water to over 350 current residents, and the system will have the capacity to support up to 1,000 residents with minor modifications to the distribution system.    

The current water distribution system is estimated to cost approximately $100,000 and we plan to complete the project over the next 12 months.  To make the project more manageable we separated the project into two parts.  The first part will consist of a 20,000 gallon elevated reinforced concrete tank located in the community of Barrio Lempira.  We are in the process of finalizing the structural plans, creating a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the stakeholders, and creating an operations and maintenance manual for the proposed system.  Once these items are completed, we will begin preparing three teams of three to four people to observe that the construction of the concrete tank is performed in accordance with design.  In addition, the teams will potentially collect supplemental information for the second part of the project.  We have currently raised $45,000 of $70,000 needed to construct the concrete water tank, and hope to start construction by the end of the year.

The second part of the water distribution system will consist of connecting an existing well with the new concrete water storage tank and then connect piping from the concrete storage tank to each residence.  Each residence will have a faucet outside their homes.  We are partnering with Cal State Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona EWB-USA student chapters to complete the design of the water system.  We are currently looking for engineers with experience to provide guidance to the two student chapters.  We are also looking for a team leader and technical lead to move the second part of the project forward. 

The projects in the past have been design and managed by a group of 4 to 5 individuals working approximately 40 hours a month on the project, which burns out all the team members by the time that the project is completed.  We are hoping with the Honduras Water Project we will be able to reduce the time per month of volunteers to be closer to 5 to 15 hours per month.  We would like members to have a pleasant experience while working on the projects and hopefully return to help on future projects.  We understand that not everyone can meet face to face for the meetings, so we are using GoToMeeting that was generously donated by ASCE Orange County Branch to allow remote access. 

A lot of people are hesitant to get involved in the project teams because they don’t practice in the correct field of engineering for the project, or are not an engineer at all.  As with any civil engineering project, design is approximately 20 percent of the work.  There are health, education, and construction components to the project.  In addition, there is a large amount of coordination with team members, the communities in Honduras, and the EWB-USA OC board.  We have been successful in fundraising so far, we have raised approximately half of the funds already. We are always looking for enthusiastic to become involved in our project teams.  If you are interested in learning more about the project, please contact me and/or visit the EWB-USA OC website

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