Development of Sustainable Water Systems in Yoro, Honduras

EPA Grant Number: SU832494
Title: Development of Sustainable Water Systems in Yoro, Honduras
Investigators: Jones, Sharon A. , Brandes, David
Current Investigators: Jones, Sharon A. , Alarcon, Arno , Brandes, David , Diaz, Daniela Ochoa , Fisher, Carolyn , Flath, Ben , Garcia, Margaret , Geklinsky, Tiffany , Gonzalez, Lori , Hockett, Will , Kaufer, Adam , Lemken, Michael , Lopera, Vanessa , Niblick, Briana , Perrone, Debra , Roscoe, Gregory , Tjioe, Marco , Verbyla, Matthew
Institution: Lafayette College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2005 through May 30, 2006
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


Rural communities in developing countries often find it difficult to provide safe water to its residents due to costs, technical expertise, and economy of scale. In addition, the natural environment in such communities may be sensitive to traditional water supply solutions, increased water demand, and increased water usage. La Fortuna, a village located in a remote valley in central Honduras in the Yoro District, is such a community. Challenges for the project include steep, erodable terrain with limited vehicular access, a scattered settlement pattern within the community, a high quality stream and riparian habitat, water rights issues, and the need for communal-based governance and financing.

The student team will design a sustainable water supply system for La Fortuna. The team will focus on simple technologies, evaluate alternatives for every phase of the solution, and engage community participation. The work will build on an existing water supply project that is being completed at a neighboring village by our Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student chapter and Sustainable Harvest International (SHI). Solutions incorporate available mountain springs and rainwater collection to avoid pumps and minimize treatment. Solutions will protect upgradient green zones. Greywater treatment systems are included to minimize downstream impacts. Education modules for community members will be developed for watershed management and water conservation. Students will evaluate and propose long-term financing alternatives.

The solution is based on site-appropriate technologies and local materials and addresses issues of environmental and socio-economic sustainability. The effectiveness of the students’ previous design for the neighboring village will be evaluated for sustainability. The La Fortuna project involves a more thorough evaluation of alternatives for each component of the water system. A detailed life-cycle analysis of the proposed water system will enable the team to improve the overall sustainability of the project. Successful completion of this project and ongoing evaluation of the results will allow student teams to transfer similar sustainable solutions to other communities in the Yoro District as well as other rural locations.

The primary motivation behind this project is to assist the communities by helping create necessary infrastructure to meet basic water needs. A variety of methods will be used to assess the results of the project, including pre- and post-project health surveys, numbers of households receiving water, measurements of water quality at the source and downstream, user fees, student project reports and post-course reflection statements, and student involvement.

The student team is an interdisciplinary group of undergraduates who will complete the work as part of a design course focusing on sustainable development, the EWB student chapter, and an alternative semester break student group. Students will be recruited from across disciplines. Team presentations will be held frequently and will be publicized across campus and within the community. Summary posters and news articles will be made available.

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainable development, drinking water, community-based, conservation, watershed, alternatives, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Engineering, International, sustainable water use, urban planning, environmental sustainability, recovery, drinking water, conservation, cost benefit, Honduras, sustainable urban environment, resource recovery, water conservation, rainfall harvesting, environmental cost analysis, environmental education

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Community-Oriented Design and Evaluation Process for Sustainable Infrastructure  | Final Report