Presentation - University of Arkansas

Engineering and Development:
Good Intentions and Real Solutions
– Water and Sanitation
Thomas Soerens
Background: what’s the problem?
Case Studies:
• Maldives
• Amazon
• China
Lessons and Issues
Oct 17, 1989
• 7.0 earthquake hits Bay Area, Cal
• 63 people killed
Jan 12, 2010
• 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti
• 230,000 people killed
What’s the difference
• Infrastructure
• Symptom of poverty
Next 2 slides from:
Luby, 2009
Luby, 2009
Background: What’s the problem?
The need for clean water
• 1.1 Billion people on earth lack improved water
source (pipe, well, or protected spring).
– 2.7 billion lack sanitation
• 3.4 million people, mostly children, die each year
from waterborne diseases.
– Twenty 747s full of children per day
• Millions of people, mostly women, must walk for
miles and hours to get water.
Water Supply Coverage (2000)
Water supply
Missing data
Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report
Sanitation Coverage (2000)
Missing data
Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report
Access to sanitation is one of the
strongest determinants of child
survival: the transition from
unimproved to improved sanitation
reduces child mortality by a third
Myths, Ironies, Barriers
Myth: They develop immunity
• No they don’t, they die.
Myth: They’re happy
• They don’t want their kids to die.
Irony: High rainfall areas lack clean water
• But quantity = quality to a certain degree
Irony: Poor people pay more for water
than rich people
85% of the richest 20% of the population have
access to water. Only 25% of the poorest 20% do.
In many places,the poorest people get less water,
and they also pay some of the world’s highest prices.
note: $1.25 per 20 oz bottled water
= $2113 per cubic metre
= ~ 2000 times cost of tap water
Barrier: Lack of hygiene knowledge
 Barrier: Not a perceived priority
 Barrier: Hard to break tradition
Counterpoint: everyone who has
money has decent water and
Possible Solutions
- Water
Terms: WatSan, WASH
 Wells
• Improved, sealed
• Handpumps
– Cost, maintenance
– Playpumps – lessons learned
• Storage
• Unintended consequences
– Africa: deforestation, etc.
– Bangladesh: Arsenic poisoning
Possible Solutions - Water
Rainwater Catchment
• Large or small scale, public or household
• traditional, but currently underutilized
• Practicality and economics depend on
– Amount and timing of rain
– Scale of application
– Other water sources
Possible Solutions - Water
Spring capture
 Hydraulic ram (uses energy of stream)
 Storage and distribution systems
• Well, spring, surface water
• May include treatment, e.g., filter
• Urban
– e.g, Bogotá
• With money, this will ~always result
Possible Solutions - Water
Household water treatment – (WHO)
• Household filters
– Biosand filters (
– Ceramic filters
• Potters for Peace
• Solar disinfection - SODIS
• Chemical additives (Pur)
• Knowledge of hygiene
• Maintenance of systems
Possible Solutions - Sanitation
Latrines, pit toilets
• appropriate?
Septic systems
• infiltration?
Possible Solutions - Sanitation
Sewer systems
• small-bore sewers
• can do at any scale
• treatment!
– O&M
• discharge
• enough water?
Health and Hygiene education
Case Study: Maldives
Private project in 1988-89
 Where’s Maldives?
Maalhos Island
Our Island
Maldives Project
RAEMAS - Research And Education in
Mariculture and Agriculture Systems
 Water and Sanitation
• People want septic systems
– but would contaminate well water
• Strategy
– build rainwater tanks
– use drain fields instead of pits
Keeping it real
• do you have this
on your island?
• Huriha dhon mihun
bo sakarai
• what did your
mother teach you?
Septic tank conclusions
• given: people were going to build septic
• we came up with a way that reduces the
effects on well water quality
• can educate, influence, but cannot totally
change people
Appropriate Technology
Don’t just export your own technology
• culturally, economically, and technically appropriate
• “sustainability” is broader but includes much of what
we used to call “appropriate tech”
• Five factors (McConville, 2006)
Socio-cultural Respect
Community participation
Political cohesion
Economic sustainability
Environmental sustainability
McConville, J.R. 2006, “Applying Life Cycle Thinking to International Water and Sanitation
Development Projects: An assessment tool for project managers in sustainable
development work”, Michigan Tech, Environmental Engineering MS Report.
Appropriate Technology
• “Appropriate technology … means good
things for rich people and sh*t for the poor”
– Father Lafontant, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”
• “Appropriate technology is dead”
– Paul Polack: must have market solutions
Maldive mistakes
• elevated pit toilets
• community toilets
Case Study: Amazon
Indigenous (Ticuna and Yagua) villages
near Leticia, Colombia, including Brazil
and Peru
• At the request of missionaries
December ’04 to August ‘06
Leticia, Colombia
Amazon Project - Background
At request of Christian missionary who
works with indigenous pastors
 Children were dying of waterborne
• Unclean water during rainy season
• Use river during dry season
Amazon Project – Constraints and
Solution needs to make it to village by canoe
• Note: Leticia is 500 miles from nearest highway
Many villages already have water tanks
Most villages do not have sand available
Each village is a little different
• Accessibility, Resources, Buildings, Country
Have relationship in villages through pastors
• some have church buildings
On the Amazon on the way to villages
With kids at a village
A pastor’s wife in front of her church
Pastor’s wife grinding yucca in her home
What’s in there?
Hello boa
Many villages have rainwater collection tanks.
This village also had a well that
yielded good water, although it
went dry during the dry season
Villagers used this pond for bathing and some drinking and cooking
This other village had a well, but it was broken and unused because it
yielded bad tasting water (sulfur taste is the main problem).
This village was on the Amazon itself and was quite developed, including
electricity, yet had pitiful water and sanitation facilities. Here’s a “bathroom”.
Many politicians and government agencies like to help the indigenous
people and have donated rainwater tanks to the villages. You can see
their names on the tanks. Some of the tanks, however, are unused. They
also run out of water during the short dry season.
A main problem in instituting any
type of system is ensuring that the
people use and maintain it and take
responsibility for it. The one below
shows another mostly homemade
rainwater catchment.
The family with the system
above had initiative—they
fashioned a rainwater
collection system out of
materials they had and used
a cloth to cover the tank.
The cloth is a good idea
because it filters out debris
including bird droppings and
keeps critters out of the
water tank.
Senior Design Team Sp. 05
Built a sand filter and a biosand filter side-by-side
• High coliform creek water put through.
• Sand filter removed most fecal coli.
• Biosand filter removed all fecal coli.
Fecal coliform results
Creek water
without filtration
Sand filter
Biosand filter
Biosand Filter
Technical Solution
Rainwater catchment with
• Increased storage
– 3 Tanks in series
• Filtration
– biosand filter
Installed on church in Zaragoza village
• Pastor and village have reputation for responsibility
Construction of filter
Our stuff heading out on the Amazon
Our stuff arriving in Zaragoza
Kids hanging out in the house
Gregorio (the guy who’s doing all the work)
Our system installed
With the pastor,
his wife, and brother
Our audience
Just for Fun: photos around Leticia
Isla de los Micos
Photos at zoo – two anacondas
Woo Tapir Sooeee!
5 systems constructed 2006
Rio Loretoyacu, an Amazon tributary in
• with John Lawrence, engineer
• with authority of the governor we built
water collection and filtration systems in 5
indigenous (Ticuna tribe) villages.
• systems on schools and health clinics
Rio Loretoyacu
San Juan de Soco
145 people in 30 families
system on health clinic
modified design
Puerto Rico
Especially industrious and precise workers
System on health worker’s residence
Added to his existing tank
Dos de Octubre
woman chief
brought gutter around building
plans for big system
Villa Andrea
not happy to see us;
system on school;
headhunter rumor
San Francisco
larger and more developed than other villages; not real friendly
system on catholic school on top of hill
hooked filter up to existing tanks
photos from various places
The Future
• ministry of Agriculture
Household systems?
 Hygiene education.
 Sanitation systems?
China Project
Leon Chen, Kerr-McGee, project leader
• Dick Greenly, Pumps of Oklahoma
• Others
Solar pumps in Zuang villages, Guanxi, China
• Poor area with countless small villages
• Karst geology
• Shorten time and ease work for getting water
Guanxi, China
China Project
Leon and team visited in February ‘05
 Went in July ’05 to install pumps
 Issues
• Storage of water
• Arsenic treatment?
• Buy goats?
• Leon is living there now with contract to
install thousands of systems
– Coffee and tea exports
With kids at a village
Lessons and Issues
It’s not that easy
• It’s hard to change
• Everyone is different
• The importance of culture
– respect
– anthropology
• positives
• negatives
– human zoo
– Yanomami (-amo, ao, …)
• Language is a big deal
How appropriate.
“Appropriate” does not necessarily mean
low tech
“Appropriate” does not necessarily mean
Observation: everyone in the world who
has money has piped water to their
home and a flush toilet.
Keeping it going
 financially sustainable?
 ownership, responsibility?
Community development
• You go to do engineering, but end up
involved in broader scale community
– Agriculture, Industry
– Medicine
– Education
Community Responsibility
• Need people in village to take ownership of
• Hard to change entrenched attitudes and
• Know who you’re dealing with (e.g.,
How to Measure?
• by $$$$$ spent?
• by results?
• life cycle analysis?
What can we do?
One of the problems with poor people is
that they don’t have a lot of money
• Funding spread real thin
• Not “cutting edge”
– Nothing new about poor people with bad water
Then again, a lot is happening…
Engineers Without Borders
 Church groups
 Foundations: Gates, Clinton, etc..
 NGOs – PeaceWork, Save the Children,
Care, Heifer international
 Look at the positives
The University of Arkansas
Goal: combine academia with practice
• Service Learning
• Build a better mousetrap
– but don’t reinvent the wheel
• Professional musicians, athletes, and you?
– A few get paid; most pay to do it