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Guatemala Project

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Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, or NSCI, Guatemala is a small Mayan community of approximately 6,000 people founded in 2000. In 19998, the people of this community were hit by Hurricane Mitch, destroying their village and forcing them to move 20 KM away to the new location of NSCI. NGOs and the Guatemalan government helped the community rebuild and provided well-built roads, houses, and farmland. Unfortunately, the initial water system provided was installed incorrectly, and the people of NSCI were left without steady access to water. In 2009, the Water Committee of NSCI sought help from EWB-USA to address the insufficient water supply and the project was adopted by the Rutgers University Chapter. 
Seven years later, and new pumps and pipelines have been installed and repaired in NSCI. EWB-USA is now in the monitoring phase of the project, and working on maximizing the amount of water reaching the houses of the community members by optimizing the system and ensuring project sustainability

Weekly Update

Members of the committee are working hard on post-travel tasks, including reports, a recommendation letter to the community, an optimized valve schedule, and survey analysis. Additionally, members are filling out a Spring 2016 grant in hopes of raising funds for future travel.

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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


Thus far, the EWB-USA Rutgers team has traveled on three Monitoring trips. In January of 2013, the team traveled to the community to prepare for system start up. EWB-USA Rutgers inspected the pipeline and suggested modifications to strengthen the pipe. Baseline surveys and preliminary water quality data were collected. 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, it was noted that pressure of the water exceeded the capability of the PVC pipeline 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. In January of 2016, EWB-USA Rutgers traveled to the community with the main purpose of investigating the internal distribution system. Ten sample water meters were installed at homes within each neighborhood in the community and valve flow-in and flow-out data was collected. The team left the community with technical recommendations for how to optimize the system.

Moving Forward

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

Project Blog

Link to Donate

Project Sponsors:

Paramus Rotary Club