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Guatemala Project

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Nueva Santa Catarina Ixathuacán (NSCI), Guatemala is a village of approximately 4,000 people of Mayan descent and has been in existence since 2000. The town was originally located about 20 km away from its current location. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused mudslides that destroyed 60-75% of the old village, Antigua Santa Catarina Ixathuacán. The new town has access to adequate roads, houses, schools, health centers, and farming land, but faces a crucial problem of insufficient water supply for domestic use. The Water Committee of NSCI sought help from EWB-USA and the Rutgers Chapter ultimately got involved with the project in January 2009. The project has technical and financial support from the local Municipality. Repair and redesign of NSCI's water supply & distribution system is the primary phase of the project. EWB-USA Rutgers has conducted three assessment trips, two implementation trips, and one monitoring trip thus far.

Weekly Update

This week the project worked on teaching new members and continuing with current project activities. Members learned how to use WaterGEMS, worked on MOU packet edits, finished WC and Muni presentation outlines, and are currently planning fundraising evnets and grand submissions.

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The Need

Inhabitants of this 4,000 person community have access to about 30 minutes/day water supply in the dry season and about 2 hours/day in the wet season. This water comes from pump-well and gravity-fed sources which dry up in the summer. The water is insufficient and unclean. However, NSCI has access to a pumped water supply system which failed in 2004. The goal of this project is to repair and redesign the water supply system for NSCI which can provide a 24 hour water supply all year long. It will improve sanitation and overall quality of life for the people in NSCI.

EWB-USA Response

Thorough Assessment

Three assessment trips in August 2009, January 2010 and August 2010 respectively were carried out to gain a thorough understanding of the problems and solutions in the community, particularly those for this water supply system, from community representatives in the Water Committee and the Municipality. Educational programs about water conservation and sanitation were conducted in schools and community centers. Efforts were made to ensure agreement of all the parties about each parties’ roles and responsibilities for the project in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).


The implementation for this project commenced in March 2011. The community members have committed to provide volunteer labor for the project. The implementation involves construction of concrete chambers to house pumps, repair/replacement of conduction pipeline and installation of new pumps. EWB-USA Rutgers will provide technical expertise and 80% of the capital cost for implementation. Projected completion of the implementation is July 2011.

First & Second Implementation Trip Travel Blog


In January of 2013, the team traveled to the community to prepare for system start up. We inspected the pipeline and suggested modifications to strengthen the pipe. We also conducted surveys to establish a baseline and gathered preliminary water quality testing data. In July of 2013, the community successfully was able to start up the pump system, bringing more water from the spring source into the community. In August of 2014, the team traveled back to the community to investigate issues after start-up. After walking the gravity pipeline portion of the system, we noticed that pressure of the water exceeded the capability of the pvc pipes at some points. Additionally, when running a test within the community, despite enough water reaching the tank that distributes into town, the water did not seem to be reaching homes. We left the trip with technical recommendations and returned home to research more into how we could figure out if there were leaks in the community.

Moving Forward

The team is currently preparing a leak study to investigate further into the distribution system of the system. Another priority for the project is to follow up on the installment of water meters, as agreed upon by the municipality and water committee in the Memorandum of Understanding. Water meters will not only ensure the sustainability of the system, but will also help the team in gathering data for the leak study investigation.

Professional Mentors:
Sandra Kutzing, P.E. and David J. Tanzi, P.E.

Project Blog

Link to Donate

Project Sponsors:

Paramus Rotary Club