Final Report: Sustainable Water Supply for La Garrucha, Guatemala

EPA Grant Number: SU833543
Title: Sustainable Water Supply for La Garrucha, Guatemala
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 1500 residents. The first phase of this project was a feasibility study in order to present the community with options for drinking water sources and treatment. After completing the feasibility study, the student team and mentors designed a complete water treatment and distribution system that will serve all 180 homes in the village with 80 liters of water per person per day.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The team was able to provide two options for water sources and two for treatment processes to the community. The source options were a spring and a lagoon, and the treatment options were a slow sand filter and a chlorination tank. During a site visit in January 2008, the community expressed a unanimous preference for the spring-based system. This system consists of a gravity flow pipe network which serves a tap at every home. A six kilometer conduction line carries water from the spring to distribution tanks servicing four separate sectors. A pilot slow sand filter test during the same trip showed that a slow sand filter would be effective at removing turbidity and fecal contamination.

Conduction Line Route
Figure 1.


The goal of the project is to sustainably provide 80 liters of clean drinking water to each of the 1500 members of the La Garrucha community. Slow sand filtration is a culturally appropriate and sustainable technology in rural Guatemala. The use of slow sand filtration, along with a gravity-driven conduction and distribution system, reduced the initial cost estimate for building the system by half (From $150,000 to $55,500) and will play a major part in allowing the community to take ownership of the system. An additional goal is to successfully transfer the technology of slow sand filtration to other communities in Guatemala.

Figure 2.
Woman carrying precious water

People: The individual and social benefits to La Garrucha residents.

Clean drinking water will improve the health index of the community. Working with the health care provider of La Garrucha, it is the project goal to reduce the number of infant mortalities within the community by at least one per year.

Prosperity: The short and long term economic considerations of the project.

Clean drinking water supplied at each household will free up considerable resources within the community that are dedicated to carrying water and gathering wood to boil the water. Women and children are the primary providers of this labor. The goal of the project is to increase attendance at the community school by 25% - from 150 to 200 children within a year of project completion.

Planet: Project impacts on the environment, health and natural resources.

Currently it is estimated that the community burns 1000 tons of wood to boil the water for treatment. This is contributing to the deforestation of local forest. The community leaders have expressed a concern about the deforestation. The design team also explained that the loss of forested area is contributing to erosion of topsoil and contamination of the areas streams. It is the goal of the project to utilize a local nursery and plant 3000 seedlings on the community’s lands. Furthermore, assuming each ton of wood emits 229 pounds of VOC’s when burned, an alternative treatment method will reduce toxic emissions by 229,000 pounds per year.

Proposed Phase II Objectives and Strategies
Design and build the proposed system beginning in June 2008. Through local partnerships, provide ongoing technical assistance and support to the community in order to keep the system running and work out any initial problems. Educate local non-governmental organizations, governments and volunteers about the design, construction and use of slow sand filtration as a water treatment technology in order to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Figure 3.
Design Team with the La Garrucha Water Committee

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Water, Drinking Water, Water Treatment, Filtration Techniques,

Relevant Websites: Exit