The fundamental problem to be addressed is common for many rural communities in Ecuador; there is limited access to a regular supply of clean water. Waterborne diseases due to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation habits lead to high infant mortality rates throughout Ecuador. Many villagers must carry water by hand to their homes. Children cannot attend school since they retrieve water during the day and often the water collected from the open springs is contaminated.
Thanks to HCJB, some communities do have a pumping system and water tower to provide clean water to each home in the community. Unfortunately, these systems experience multiple problems. The first is that the pumps regularly fail for unknown reasons. The pumps are solar powered pumps that are submerged in the spring collection basin and pump water into the elevated reservoir for distribution to the community. Possible causes to the failures are high levels of sand being pumped through the system and electrical component failures resulting from inadequate voltages from the solar panels.
The second problem is that the tower reservoir structures do not withstand the weather conditions. High temperatures and rainfall limit the lifespan of the wood structures. The reservoirs also do not meet the daily demand requirements of the villages. The towers have a maximum capacity of 2,200L while daily demands regularly exceed 10,000L per day.
Two communities, in particular, are in need of assistance. Washintsa is a 15 home community with no pump, reservoir, or distribution system in place. Water is transported by hand from the spring up to the village. Iniayua is a 25 home community with a pumping system in operation. Their water tower is on the verge of collapse, does not provide adequate capacity, and their solar power pumps regularly fail. The tower is a safety hazard to the community and the people cannot afford to regularly replace the solar pumps.
There are three stages to the project. Stage One, occurring during the fall and interim semesters, includes all preliminary research, design, and fundraising. The second stage is the trip to Ecuador in which the team will visit both Washintsa and Iniayua to meet with the communities and collect data. The third stage will take place during the spring semester and will include finalizing the designs and constructing the prototype system.