This May, Aqua Clara International arranged for a University of Michigan student-run team to work in Nicaragua. The team was called NicarAGUA and is part of the BLUELab (Better Living Using Engineering Laboratory) of the University of Michigan. The goal of this trip was to construct an Aqua Clara Facility Filter in a 400-student Christian school in the outskirts of Managua, fix a filter previously built and still in use in Leon, gain hands on experience on filter supervisions, and plan for a rainwater harvesting system for next year.
All of these goals were met. Monte Herman Christian School of Managua now has a Facility Filter built into their kitchen supplying 400 students with clean water. The filter took three days to find supplies and build. After this, the team headed to Los Alpes Eco-Tourism Ranch in Leon. There, they lived in a rural setting and experienced a lot of the real Nicaragua outside the city. Two of the days were spent traveling to the town Felix Pedro, to fix and improve the Facility Filter that was implemented a year ago. The 400 students of the public school were still using the filter, but parts had broken and were replaced by sturdier ones. The students, with the help of our on-site engineer Jairo and our Project Manager Jay VandenBrink, designed this system.
The next project was to meet with local farmers and villagers to plan for a rainwater harvesting system to supply drip irrigation to future crops at the ranch. These crops will be used to provide food and income for the surrounding villages. Measurements were made and information was gathered for a great future project.
The final work that was done was to travel to three surrounding villages of Leon to supervise bio-sand filters that have been in use since 2008 and 2009. The team tested the water for coli forms and arsenic. This was a great experience for the students for they saw our filters in use and they were part of our on-going sustainable plan.
The final day was spent going to the beach. The day was spent fishing in the mangroves, taking on the strong pacific waves, and playing Frisbee at sunset. It was a perfect end to a very successful trip. The students had a great experience and were shown Nicaragua in a way most people do not see it. They look forward to a second trip next year and implementing a rainwater harvesting system.