28 August 2016

New 5 L/s Plant in San Juan Guarita, Lempira, Honduras!

Construction of Honduras' smallest AguaClara plant yet is under way in San Juan Guarita, Lempira. The plant will treat 5 L/s for about 200 households in this small municipality in southwestern Honduras and will feature several innovations to the AguaClara technology.

The San Juan Guarita plant will be the first to include our new, compact entrance tank and flocculator design. The new entrance tank is compact enough that it fits in the first channel of the flocculator, eliminating the significant capital cost of building a completely separate tank. The new flocculator design incorporates additional obstructions between baffles to provoke more collisions (more chances for flocs to stick together!) in the previously unused space.

The plant will also be the first in Honduras to use the EStaRS (Enclosed Stacked Rapid Sand Filter) technology. These filters are closed to the atmosphere, as opposed to the OStaRS (Open), and will be pre-fabricated from 24" PVC pipe in a PVC workshop in Tegucigalpa. These filters don't require as much depth, or excavation, so they're less expensive to build.

Construction of the plant began at the beginning of July and is expected to continue through the end of October. Operator training and water board capacity building will be starting shortly.

Click here to see the latest pictures of the plant in San Juan Guarita!

18 April 2016

Sustainability Workshop in Honduras

AguaClara and Agua Para el Pueblo (APP), our implementation partner in Honduras, are working to strengthen our network of treatment plants in Honduras. This past week, from April 14-16, we hosted a workshop for the water board leaders and plant operators from all of the communities with AguaClara plants. The workshop had several objectives: review and standardize operation and maintenance procedures, motivate capital improvements to outdated plants, strengthen water quality monitoring and communication, invigorate the water board association "AsociaciĆ³n Comunitaria de AguaClara en Honduras" (ACACH), and promote collaboration with public health entities. APP organized and financed the workshop, with contributions from Mexichem plastics suppliers and Solquin chemical suppliers. Click here to see more pictures from the workshop.

As an iterative design program, AguaClara is continually improving its water treatment technologies, and every AguaClara plant includes new innovations. Consequently, every cohort of plant operators has an experience particular to their plant. We want to empower plant operators from different communities to share these experiences with each other and with APP staff to collectively improve and standardize our operation and maintenance procedures, ensuring all plants constructed since 2006 are operating optimally. This workshop was a good first step, which already generated a novel filter backwash technique, and we hope to use social media to maintain communication between operators and water boards.

Another continuous effort of APP and water board leaders is water quality monitoring, in which we hope to coordinate with the ministry of health. Systematic monitoring is mandated by Honduran law but is often poorly enforced and shared between the service provider, government, and the public. Successful monitoring also helps operators improve their practices, builds confidence in the water's safety, justifies the water tariff, assists APP technicians identify problems, and is crucial to Cornell researchers for technology improvement. AguaClara currently supports two data reporting and publication platforms: a text message system administered by Wash 4 All, and a pilot smartphone application "POST" being developed by students at Cornell. These systems allow plant operators to remotely report operation data that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. Crucial to ensuring water quality, we also want to improve the frequency of bacteriological analyses by making available CBT kits which can estimate E. coli MPN in the field, and asking support from public health technicians to collect and transport samples to local laboratories.

To better coordinate and sustain these activities, we are strengthening the AguaClara water board association, "AsociaciĆ³n Comunitaria de AguaClara en Honduras" (ACACH). As we build more plants in Honduras, the need for a coordinating body which can sustain continuous technical support for the plants becomes more and more critical. During the workshop, water board members reviewed the statutes, objectives, and plans of the association, and re-elected its executive board from among the local water board leaders. The association will negotiate reduced group rates for chemicals used in the plants, one of their principal expenses, and will meet again in May and June to continue defining their objectives and expanding their capacity.

To keep up the positive energy from the workshop, APP's Antonio Elvir will make follow-up technical visits to all of the plants in the coming month. He will complete pending maintenance, identify and review budgets for capital improvements that can be made to outdated plants, collect water samples for analysis, and build water board administrative capacity. This will be a key step to improving communication between all players in the AguaClara program, from APP and local water boards to the ministry of health and community members. Sustaining our water treatment plants is a continuous challenge, and we are inspired by the enthusiasm we see in our plant operators and water board leaders!

28 February 2016

Breaking Ground in Las Vegas, Santa Barbara

We are very excited to announce the beginning of construction of the newest AguaClara plant in Honduras. Located in Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, the country's 13th AguaClara plant in its 12th community represents a large step and unique challenge for AguaClara and Agua Para el Pueblo. Las Vegas has two water sources, one much dirtier than the other. The high turbidity water will be treated by flocculation and sedimentation before mixing with lower turbidity raw water and entering the filters. The capacity of the flocculation and sedimentation processes is 44 Liters per second, and the filters will be able to treat 70 Liters per second, treating not only the flocculated and settled water, but also the low turbidity raw water from the community's second water source. In all, the plant will supply clean water to a future population of over 30,000 people. This will be by far the largest capacity AguaClara plant to date!
Las Vegas also represents a unique challenge as the first community to use an AguaClara plant to address water hardness and scaling in the city's water pipes. Currently, the water's high pH, high calcium and magnesium levels, and increasing temperature throughout the distribution system cause calcium carbonate to build up in the drinking water pipes, obstructing the flow of water. Frequently replacing these pipes throughout town is a large expense for the municipal government as well as a regular complaint for the entire town. Alongside the normal dosing of coagulant and chlorine, hydrochloric acid will be dosed in the plant to combat the scaling issue.

German Castejon, pictured here with APP Civil Engineer Aminta Nunez, is the foreman on the construction site. German has worked on many projects with APP in the past, and this will be his fifth AguaClara plant as a foreman. Construction of the plant should last nine months and is planned to finish in November of this year.

01 February 2016

Call for Applications - AguaClara Engineer in Honduras

Now accepting applications for AguaClara Engineers with Agua Para el Pueblo in Honduras to begin in Summer 2016! To learn more, please click on the link below. The application form will be open until 11:59 PM EST on Feb. 29, 2016.