Guatemala Global Grant Project Update

The work is nearly complete on RCM’s Global Grant project to install a water filter in Joyabaj, Guatemala that will improve water quality for approximately 25,000 people. This project is a partnership between Rotary and Engineers Without Borders.


Over the last six months, Engineers Without Borders has overseen the construction of a roughing filter on a water source pipeline to reduce sediment contamination and allow ordinary treatment to be effective, improving the water quality for the residents of Joyabaj and reducing illness. Rotarian Mike Paddock provided a recent progress update:


“The tank has been backfilled and the valve boxes constructed.  The drainage canal has been completed along with the discharge box and the 6” discharge pipes to the ditch.  We needed to do a little work to control the erosion, but it appears to be in good shape now.”


ecent hard rains have nearly doubled the water flow compared to measurements taken in July 2013. The extra water requires the filter to be cleaned twice a day instead of once a day. The Engineers Without Borders team is experimenting with shutting off half of the water flow during heavy rains by closing some of the filter catchments. If this practice does not negatively impact the water service in Joyabaj, residents might continue closing filter catchments during heavy rain to lessen filter maintenance. 


Engineers Without Borders intern Elyse Cohen will be in Joyabaj for the next 7 months and will continue to monitor the filter to see if additional adjustments are needed.


Mike is already seeing the impact of the project on Guatemalans. On a recent night, the region experienced very heavy rains overnight. “The filter had over an inch of mud on top of the sand,” Mike said, “It was good to know that all of that mud did not make it down to the people in Joyabaj!”