24 June 2012

8th AguaClara Plant Inaugurated

Yesterday on a small knoll on the outskirts of Atima, Santa Barbara in Honduras, a crowd gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the 8th AguaClara water treatment plant. There were speeches by Jacobo Nuñez of Agua Para el Pueblo, Rotarians from Baltimore and from Santa Barbara, and the mayor of Atima. Town residents toured the new water treatment plant and all enjoyed a celebratory meal together.

Jacobo Nuñez demonstrates the difference between the
dirty water entering the plant and the safe drinking water
produced by the plant.
The Atima project was several years in the making. An early potential bilateral donor turned down the project in part because the AguaClara plants don't use electricity and the bilateral donor thought that since Atima has electricity that we should use their "locally available materials". (Including electricity...). Eventually Dan Smith made connections with Rotarians and that turned into a strong relationship. The Rotarians funded the project, Atima provided labor and local materials, Agua Para el Pueblo provided the local design, construction supervision and capacity building, and AguaClara at Cornell provided the plant design. A partnership that is truly win-win-win-win with everyone contributing what they can and together doing what no one could do alone.
Atima marks a transition for the AguaClara program. AguaClara water treatment plants now produce over 100 L/s (more than 3.5 billion liters per year) and serve over 30,000 people. AguaClara is now a significant player in the world of safe drinking water. And AguaClara has technical capabilities that give us an unparalleled opportunity to scale up.

For the last seven years AguaClara has been synonymous with innovation. We've developed a whole suite of technologies and every plant that was built included multiple innovations. We used the power of feedback to drive continual improvements in our technologies and our implementation methods. AguaClara facilities were built at the rate of about 1 per year and even at that pace it was challenging to update our designs to include the new technologies for each new plant. I remember in 2007 when we were designing both Tamara and the retrofit plant at Marcala and the design team clearly stating that designing two plants in one year was too much. Since then the design team has developed amazing scalable design capabilities with our automated design tool. Beginning a few months ago we now maintain a stock of standard designs ready for use by implementation partners.

Atima marks the transition from full focus on technology development to a shared focus on deployment of the AguaClara technologies. Atima will likely be the last AguaClara plant to be built without a stacked rapid sand filter. Of course, innovation and technology development will continue! We have many years of productive research ahead to optimize plant performance and reduce construction costs. But now we have a new focus on taking the technology to scale.

We have an opportunity for a friendly competition between implementation partners. Where will the 9th AguaClara plant be built and who will build it? The 9th plant could be built in Colombia by AguaNova, in Guatemala under supervision of INFOM, in Nicaragua by CARE, In Ethiopia by Bahir Dar University, or in Honduras by Agua Para el Pueblo.

Help us take AguaClara to this new level where we methodically add new implementation partners who can build AguaClara plants.

1 comment:

Daniel Antonio Colocho Arévalo said...

Felicitaciones a los hermanos hondureños por ser el pueblo elegido para probar esta tecnología y sus bondades, adicionalmente por ser el campo de investigación para mejorar los diseños.
Al equipo de AguaClara y Agua para el Pueblo, bendiciones y ánimos, pues serán recordados por generaciones de hondureños y gentes de otros países, agradecidos por su arduo trabajo y proyección social. YHWH derrame grandes bendiciones para quienes de corazón buscar practicar misericordia.
Ing. Daniel Colocho
Unidad de Estudios Técnicos
Instituto de Fomento Municipal
Guatemala, C.A.