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Living Waters International Helps Train on Well Drilling Techniques

By Casey Callais -- After months of planning and preparation, Don Parker landed in Bluefields. Don is a small-scale water well drilling specialist that volunteers his time to projects sponsored by Living Water International. Don has made many trips to Latin America where he trains local teams on how to use well-drilling equipment, and he was just the person blueEnergy was looking to meet!

Access to clean water is a large concern for the City of Bluefields. With an estimated 50,000 people living in the municipality, there is a high demand for water. Unfortunately, many of the water sources are contaminated and new wells are prohibitivly expensive for the average resident. Thankfully, the City of Bluefields recently purchased a well-drilling machine capable of boring 200' into the soft topography of the region, which is deep enough to supply a consistent flow of water even in the dry season. However, the City of Bluefields did not have a trained staff member that could use and train others on the equipment. Enter Don Parker. . .

Don explaining the how-to to blueEnery and Bluefields workers

Eric Lopp, blueEnergy Director of International Programs, understood the situation and got the ball rolling. He coordinated Don Parker's visit, while Rickey Monroe, Head of the blueEnergy Water and Sanitation team, and Danilo Rivera, Vice Director of blueEnergy Projects and Programs, facilitated training logistics. Don provided a series of hands-on well drilling classes that benefitted both the blueEnergy staff and also Bluefields municipal workers, Enacal, the Nicaraguan water company and the Verbo school, the recipients of the new well.

Mixing the drilling fluid

The five days of drilling classes taught the workers not only how to operate and care for the machine, but also best practices and techniques for making the job easier. Don's experience showed as he made suggestions such as implementing easily welded custom tools to better handle pipes and an electric pump to clean up the well after drilling is complete.

Getting started with the operation

Given the large number of people in need of clean water in Bluefields, the municipality is going to give this new machine a good workout. It is estimated that about 20 wells can be drilled before parts begin wearing out and maintenance is required, but if each well supplies water to 20 families of 5 people each, well, you can imagine how valuable it is to learn how to operate this machine and what a great impact it will have on the community.

In addition to Don from Living Water International, blueEnergy would also like to thank Paul Hwang from Cornerstone Church in Toronto. Paul has provided years of support for the Verbo school in Bluefields and worked behind the scenes to coordinate this training. Cornerstone Church also provided the funding for the project, and it is money well spent.


Give the Gift of Light

Still not too late to give the gift of light to the people of Rocky Point!


Rama Cay Health Center Receives Solar-Powered Water Filtration System

By Casey Callais -- The drinking water in the tiny island of Rama Cay is dirty. Very dirty. And not in the sense that it can be cleaned by simply scooping out pollutants with a sieve. Much of what contaminates open well drinking water can not be seen by the naked eye; fecal coliforms cannot be scooped out. Neither can protozoa or the many other contaminates, which populate the 5 wells that the 1,000 residents of Rama Cay use for washing, bathing and drinking. Diarrhea is a serious problem (you can hear Maria, the nurse in Rama Cay explain why here) and the population most vulnerable to such contamination rely heavily on the well at the Rama Cay health clinic.

To tackle this problem, blueEnergy engineers devised a clever solution that weds the organization's experience with solar power and biosand water filtration to create, you guessed it, a solar-powered biosand water filter!

With funding from Renewable World, blueEnergy designed and installed a system that pumps water from the clinic's well to a holding tank that then drips into a biosand filter and from there into a holding tank. The system is controlled by a series of float valves that allow water to pass until the tank is full.

Here is an example of the system:

1. The solar panel on the roof of the health clinic powers the electric pump in the well.

2. The submersible pump is controlled by a float switch in the top tank. When the float is down and the sun is out, the pump sends well water into the top tank until the float comes up and cuts the pump off. 

3. There is enough well water in the top tank for several days of the clinic's water requirements. Gravity draws water from the top tank to the filter.

4. Water drips into into the biosand filter at a slow rate giving the good bacteria a consistent supply of bad bacteria to munch on. The water filters down through the barrel of sand and into the clean water storage tank.

5. Clean water is stored in the lower tank which is still high enough to supply water pressure to the clinic.

6. Patients in the health clinic can drink clean water and the staff can work in more sanitary conditions.

No longer is there worry at the health clinic over contaminated water and the sickness that it brings. This installation provides the solution and represents the strong bond between the indigenous community of Rama Cay, blueEnergy and Renewable World.