Bolivia: Water Filtration System
Founded: Fall 2007
Majors: Primarily Mechanical, Environmental, and Civil Engineers - Undergraduate and Graduate Students
NGO: Etta Projects
Location: Santa Cruz and Montero, Bolivia
The Bolivia project team has been working closely with a Bolivia-based non-governmental organization (NGO) to implement a low-cost water filtration system to improve the health of impoverished communities near Montero, Bolivia. The project began in the fall of 2007 and since then has been followed through to a successful implementation.
The project team is currently in the beginning stages of getting a new project underway with the same NGO (Etta Projects) that is focused on health and hygiene in schools in indigenous communities between Montero and Santa Cruz.
During spring break of 2008 the assessment team traveled to Montero to establish a relationship with the communities, test the drinking water, and to help identify the most appropriate technology for treating the contaminated water. Based on the information acquired during the trip the team was able to design a simple and inexpensive stacked bucket filtration system utilizing locally available materials to be implemented in the communities. The system was tested throughout the summer and following fall and was remotely implemented within a few test families with the help of Etta Projects in November of 2008.
A second team of students traveled to Bolivia in during spring break of 2009 to help Etta Projects with the full implementation of the project. During the trip water testing revealed that a more thorough cleaning process was required to keep the amount of contamination in the lower bucket to a minimum. Throughout the following summer and fall the project team worked as consultants for Etta Projects helping them to troubleshoot technical issues ensuring that the project was successful and sustainable.
Currently, 64 families are using the water filtration system in their homes. The technology has been able to have a positive impact on approximately 380 people and the hygiene awareness program the Etta Projects has developed to supplement the water system has reached over 1,200 people in the communities surrounding Montero.
Etta Projects and the EWB Bolivia team are in the early stages of getting a new project off the ground. The new project will be focusing on improving the sanitation technology in schools between Montero and Santa Cruz and introducing a holistic hygiene education program to the students and faculty at the schools.
Etta Projects partners with Bolivian communities to identify, prioritize, and implement sustainable solutions to the health, education, and economic challenges of poverty.