Sustainable Water Supply for La Garrucha, Guatemala

EPA Grant Number: SU833543
Title: Sustainable Water Supply for La Garrucha, Guatemala
Investigators: Zitomer, Daniel , Paddock, Michael
Current Investigators: Zitomer, Daniel , Berg, John , Dollen, Mark Von , Mikus, Amy , Paddock, Michael , Stanley, Adrianna , Wantoch, Alicia
Institution: Marquette University , CH2M-Hill
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 30, 2007 through August 29, 2008
Project Amount: $9,994
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The community of La Garrucha, Guatemala lacks clean drinking water for its 2000 residents. This community is composed of the Ketchakel Mayan Indians of the Guatemalan Highlands. The community currently obtains water from a local stream that is contaminated with coliform bacteria. Waterborne diseases are prevalent in the community. Interviews conducted in January 2006 indicated that most children suffer from dysentery, with many losing their lives before the age of five. A typical drinking water system for communities in Guatemala consists of a gravity pipeline system fed by a spring. Unfortunately, most springs have already been tapped, making it difficult and expensive for many additional communities to obtain clean water. La Garrucha has identified a spring source of sufficient elevation and capacity for their needs, but its distant location makes it cost prohibitive at $150,000. Thus, viable, alternative, sustainable sources of water need to be identified. The objectives of this project are to (1) investigate alternative, sustainable solutions to the drinking water problem at La Garrucha and (2) identify one alternative that is economically possible, technically feasible, constructable with the resources available, and acceptable to the community. A design team including Marquette University students will evaluate alternatives and compare the advantages/disadvantages of each. The probable alternatives that will be investigated include (1) a reservoir with soil treatment; (2) a well and a pump powered by a micro-hydroelectric turbine; (3) a well and solar powered pump; (4) a well and a windmill pump; and (5) a stream intake structure and hydraulic ram or water wheel to pump the water. Other alternatives may be considered as project information is gathered. Undergraduate students will be invited to join the design team through MU-EWB and members of the design team will be required to take the existing class “Latin American Health, Infrastructure and Environment” (CEEN 193) to reinforce the social and cultural aspects of engineering projects. It is intended to transfer the technology of a successful project to neighboring communities in similar situations.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Human Health, Engineering,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report