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Clean drinking water…finally!

2012 May 31

It has been a longer journey than we anticipated for the kids of Westfalia Orphanage, but clean drinking water is now provided to a dedicated faucet in the main kitchen. This eliminates the need to boil dirty water every day to supply the houses and to provide drinking water for the almost 100 children to take to school. No more wasting money on propane for boiling. No more running out of drinking water before they run out of day.

The process required ordering numerous components from the U.S. and Canada as they were not available in Peru. We could have sourced items here to install a system without the safety feature that we wanted, but that was not acceptable. Sourcing what we wanted from the U.S. increased the cost by more than $450, but that was a small price to pay for the security that we felt was imperative. The photo below shows the complete system.

I think that the only items in this photo that were sourced in Peru would include the pipes, the valves and the board the system is mounted on. We could not source the clear filter containers, and we wanted those so that a visual inspection of the filters was possible without taking them apart. We also could not source the quality of filters that we wanted, the UV sterilizer that would accept a solenoid valve to protect against using contaminated water in the event of bulb failure, low UV emission or electrical failure. To us, that was a priority. In the event of any of those circumstances, the vale closes and the water supply is shut off. No chance of using contaminated water.

At the top center of the board is the UV monitor that indicates UV emission, running at a perfect 99%, counts the days until bulb replacement and also sounds an alarm if there is any bulb failure of loss of UV. To the right of that is a circuit breaker that protects the system from any possible electrical overload. At the far left is the brass solenoid valve connected to the UV sterilizer.  To the right, mounted on a separate board, is a pump that guarantees a constant flow of 3 gallons per minute, sufficient to push water through the large carbon filter at the bottom right. The system includes the carbon filter and two sediment filters. The valve at the lower left is only for draining the system when we need to change the UV bulb or the filters.

In the photo below you can see the new water tank on the left. This tank is dedicated solely to drinking and cooking water as well as washing fruits and vegetables. The other tank will receive untreated water and will be used only for cleaning.

Below are close up photos of each section of the system. We installed complete instructions in Spanish as well as a tag to indicate the date of every bulb change and a large warning label about the danger of handling the bulb during changing.

We checked the system and everything was perfect.  The best part, everyone was thrilled with it as you can see from some of the photos below of the children sampling the new, clean water. The work of boiling and distributing drinking water for almost 100 children is a thing of the past. The days of the children going thirsty in late afternoon and at night because the boiled water had been used up, history! Every morning they fill the water jugs for the houses from the dedicated faucet in less than 20 minutes. When they need a refill, no problem. We have done a lot of things here, but I rate this as by far the most rewarding thing that we have accomplished. We could not have done it without the generous donations of some wonderful people. You really have made a huge difference in the lives of these children.

We are now investigating and planning for phase 2 which would involve only using water from the well and never from the river (except for watering gardens, etc.), cleansing the 45,000 litre cistern as well as the pipes leading to the houses and the interior plumbing with a chlorine shock, installing some form of purification system to the cistern (likely chlorine injection and ozone treatment) and feeding clean water to every house. Clean water to drink, brush their teeth, shower, wash their clothes and clean their dishes. This would also involve installing a solar electric system at the well location and eliminating the need to spend $1,000 a month on diesel fuel to run the existing pump. We would also move to using a submersible well pump instead of the elevated pump that they now use. The details are complex and we are very fortunate to have amazing help from Randy, who has been invaluable with his help and knowledge. I know that he is mulling over this project already and will come up with a detailed plan. The frightening part will be the cost. That will be huge by comparison to what we spent on Phase 1. But on we go! A huge thanks to George as well for steering this project with Randy. Amazing work guys. Thanks also to those who donated and helped these kids have clean, drinking water that will never run out!

10 Responses Post a comment
  1. alex sidiropoulos permalink
    June 1, 2012

    Congratulations on your achievement Scott. This is truly brilliant!!
    I remember running out of water at the end of the day at Westfalia. It’s something the western world has no idea what it means. You have done such a great thing for the kids.

  2. Pam Varma permalink
    June 1, 2012

    Thank you for making it possible for kids to drink clean water. Most of us take safe water for granted and don’t stop to think about, let alone appreciate. Many happy H2O toasts to all of you!

  3. June 1, 2012

    Excellent job here team Sonrisas! Those pics of the kids with their glasses of drinking water melts my heart, you are doing the stuff that really counts there, good on you guys. The world is lucky to have a Scott J in it to help lift projects like this off the ground and see plans put into action. Well done.

  4. Shine permalink
    June 1, 2012

    Mate how the things that are at the most basic level of need give such joy as would safe water! Proud to know how you are making a difference be proud mate!

  5. Jackie McCracken permalink
    June 1, 2012

    It’s great to see the kid’s getting the clean water they so desperately need. Well done to the team who made it possible.

  6. Caroline Law permalink
    June 2, 2012

    Bravo Scott and everyone there who are working tirelessly to make these kids lives so good!

  7. nicole permalink
    June 3, 2012

    Great work Scott – you are a living angel! 🙂

  8. Matt permalink
    June 3, 2012

    Top stuff mate. Excellent write-up on the process of sourcing the system and the benefits. Keep up the great work.

  9. June 4, 2012

    Thanks for the great comments, although i can’t take a lot of credit on this project. This was all George and Randy, amazing guys and friends of sonrisasenperu 🙂

  10. David Northrup permalink
    June 14, 2016

    Scott, the UV system should make a huge difference in treating the water for the fecal coliform that was present. The filtration system looks top notch. where is the filtration equipment installed? it appears to be running off an electrical source. Randy knows his stuff.

    About your well pump needs, send me some parameters on the water well you are using. Static water level, depth, diameter, and yield capability. If you can a GPS of the water well and the GPS of the bank of GST (ground storage tanks) and of the general area of the orphanage. That way I can calculate elevations. Lastly the supply lines from the well to the GSTs and from the GSTs to the homes they are serving. Including estimated lengths, inside diameter, and what material is been used. I read it was PVC? I would like to use this for calculating friction losses that might occur. I would like to look at some solar pump designs options that could be considered for your review. And possibly a solar system with battery back up that can be used as the pressure system to the homes.

    Afterwards, I would like to see if “we” can get this done as a donation.

    You and a group of great people are doing an amazing job. Thanks for all of the hard work and time each one of you are doing.


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