Rotarians wrap up water project

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More than a year of planning, preparation and work culminated July 21 when Rotarians from Colorado and Nicaragua distributed 70 clean-water filters to residents of the small village of San Lucas.

Eight Rotarians from the chapter in Somoto, Nicaragua, and Colorado Rotarians Bob Moore of the Littleton chapter and Monty Schmidt of  the Westminster chapter assembled the 70 ceramic filters and gave them to the local residents selected by the local priest to receive them.

Moore, who was making his third trip to Nicaragua on projects for the Casa Unida Foundation and to help with the filter projects, said the Rotarian project exceeded expectations.

“The original proposal was to use the Rotarian grants to buy the materials and build 261 bio-sand filter systems,” he said. “We based the project number on the material prices from local Nicaraguan vendors. When they found out what we were doing they reduced material prices so we had money left over and it was decided to use the money to buy 180 ceramic filters.”

Moore and Schmidt helped Somoto Nicaraguans assemble and distribute the last 70 filters to residents in the area of San Lucas.

As she received her filter, San Lucas area resident Maria Cruz, 77, smiled and hugged Somoto Rotarian Claudia Quiroz. An interpreter said Cruz thanked Quiroz and asked God to bless her and everyone who made it possible for her family now to finally have clean water to drink.

The Rotarians worked with the priest to select the San Lucas area families that would benefit the most from the clean-water filters.

Yvonne Castillo, Somoto Rotary Club president, said most San Lucas area residents used water from wells or streams that contained bacteria and other contamination. She said the specially-designed ceramic filter liner contains elements that will purify water and could provide about 30 liters of safe, clean drinking water a day.

The San Lucas distribution wraps up a program that began more than a year ago when Somoto Rotarians because they wanted to bring clean, safe drinking water to families in the rural mountain areas of northern Nicaragua. The Nicaraguans talked about the project to Moore and other area Rotarians who brought the request back to their clubs.

“We looked into the filter project and decided to try to work with the club in Somoto to make the project happen,” Moore said. “Money was needed to build the filters so our club, the Littleton Sunrise Rotary Club and the Aurora Gateway Rotary Club raised about $8,000. We then sent a successful request for additional financial support to the district and to Rotary International which increased the total project funding to about $21,000.”

The initial portion of the project involved constructing and distributing 270 bio-sand filter systems. The container was made of plastic pipe 30 inches in diameter with gravel and sand making up the filter system. The ceramic filter systems are the same shape and size. The decision to switch to the ceramic filters was made because so many areas like that around San Lucas area doesn’t have access to the amount of water needed to wash the dirt and debris out of the gravel and sand for a bio sand filter.

A large crowd gathered near the church in San Lucas on the day the filters were distributed.

Again, the container was a plastic pipe 30 inches in diameter and about 4 feet high. The ceramic filter system fit into the open top of the container so the clean water could drain into the lower portion of the system.

“Some of these people walked more than an hour to receive these filters that will make a difference in their lives,” Moore said. “There were big smiles when someone’s name was called to receive a filter system. Each of them thanked us, picked up the filters and started on the walk home.”

Now that the filter project is completed, the Somoto and Colorado Rotarians are discussing by email if they want to join forces on another project and, if so, what that project would be.