Increased Drinking Water Supply Through Improved Cistern Construction in Barasa Haiti

EPA Grant Number: SU832497
Title: Increased Drinking Water Supply Through Improved Cistern Construction in Barasa Haiti
Investigators: Bower, Kathleen M.
Current Investigators: Bower, Kathleen M. , Brown, Mary L , Burnitz, Kimberly , Jernegan, Marissa , Nance, Kyla
Institution: Eastern Illinois University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through November 1, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Barasa, Haiti is an extremely poor, isolated rural community located on the side of a mountain. Cisterns in Barasa, Haiti are the preferred method to collect and store water for household use. Local masons build cisterns in Haiti which provides jobs for local people. The local construction may be funded through charitable organizations, such as the Haiti Connection of Charleston, Illinois. Materials used for local cistern construction are found in Haiti. Some locally built cisterns crack and water escapes. When cisterns crack, people no longer have easy year-round access to water. Development of simple and economical solutions to help prevent cistern cracking or repair cisterns so water is held after cracking, would benefit many organizations, communities, and those who are water-poor in Haiti and other developing countries.

The methods chosen for constructing or repairing cisterns must be economically feasible for Haitians, be easy to apply by uneducated and untrained masons, use material readily available and economical in Haiti, be safe, and be culturally acceptable to Haitians. The solution to cracking cisterns in Haiti includes two possible methods. First, improvement of construction methods and materials used for cisterns in Haiti may prevent cracking. It was determined that addition of cheap dried fibers from sisal, a native plant in Haiti, increased compressive strength in concrete. Longer curing times under moist conditions increase mortar strength in cisterns. These methods are both inexpensive, easy to use, and utilize readily available materials in Barasa, Haiti. The Eastern Illinois University students tested these methods in the lab for effectiveness and ease of application. The two most promising methods were communicated with Haitian masons via interaction with members of the Haiti Connection. Haitian masons constructed 10 cisterns using the two methods in Barasa, Haiti. These cisterns will be observed to determine their durability.

Expected Results:

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 4 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, conservation, water resources, community based, aggregate, Haiti, developing country, cistern, limestone, potable water, sisal,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, International, Environmental Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning, urban planning, sustainable water use, drinking water, recovery, environmental sustainability, conservation, cost benefit, sustainable urban environment, water conservation, resource recovery, environmental cost analysis, environmental education, rainfall harvesting, renewable resource

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final Report