In March, two students from Mines’ Engineers Without Borders-Bridges to Prosperity club (EWB-B2P) and mentor Stephanie Fleckenstein will travel to Los Gomez, Nicaragua, to help the community stop one of the biggest causes of death in the world: lack of access to inexpensive, clean water.
Geology and geological engineering graduate student Ethan Faber and mechanical engineering student Eric Rosing will use the trip to gain information about the community’s needs for a water system. Rosing traveled to Los Gomez in spring 2013 with members of the group to help complete a pedestrian bridge. He saw firsthand the current water infrastructure and identified potential needs for improvements.
“Water projects in developing countries often fail—not because of technological failures, but because of social issues,” Rosing said. “I hope that we are at least able to build a better connection with the community so that we can work with the community and not for them.”
One spring in Los Gomez currently provides fair quality water, but it quickly becomes contaminated. When it stops producing during the dry season, the next best option is to retrieve water from shallow hand dug wells.
“Since these wells are located at great distances and have extremely poor quality, many individuals miss work due to being sick or they don't have time since so much of their day is spent gathering the water,” Faber said. “When the average income in rural Nicaragua is around $1 a day, missing any amount of work can be detrimental.”
Once Faber and Rosing examine the problem with community support, they could possibly build wells drilled into confined aquifers, construct additional storage systems and design a water decontamination system.
“I’m excited to be travelling on this trip because I really enjoy helping people, especially when I can put engineering knowledge to use in doing so,” Rosing said.
The group is currently in the design phase of a second bridge project in the neighboring town, La Conquista. The bridge will provide access to healthcare, markets and schools during the rainy season for the surrounding communities. In May, the team will help the community finish constructing the bridge. They anticipate completion in the first week in June.
For more information about EWB-B2P, see inside.mines.edu/ewb.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu