Friday, December 20, 2013

Bio Filters

We have done many things in this country over the past 6 years, but this is the first time we have volunteered.  What a truly wonderful and rewarding experience.  

Through an established organization we were able to connect with a man named Pedro.  Pedro was born and raised in Matagalpa, in the mountainous region of Nicaragua.  He and his family have been helping his people for many years with the introduction of clean drinking water to those families most in need.  Pedro recently learned english, and can speak it with such fluency that he has become an interpreter for many volunteers such as ourselves who venture down to assist in the work.
On our first day there, we helped make two biofilters using steel concrete forms and a handmade mix of concrete.  The girls especially were good at coating the forms with crisco!  Each biofilter made takes two days to cure in the forms, and then another ten days to cure in the open air.   With a generous donation from Marvin Betz, the girls grandfather, Pedro had the funding to have some biofilters ready for us to install.

The following day we loaded the truck and went up into the hills.  Pedro had already spoken with the families who were to receive the bio filters and provided them with basic information regarding how the unit will be set up and how it is to be used.   We made the trek in from the road to our first house.  carrying the concrete bio filter, two different grades of gravel, and a full bucket of sand.  

Here is the first house we arrived at. Typically, barbed wire fences are everywhere in Nica.  Everyone had a job to do.

Once the biofilter was placed in the house it was necessary to fill the cavity with water and then take a reading of the flow rate of the water, without the gravel and sand filters.   Then again after the filter medium was added.  Averyl and Elsie were great at this.
The girls then took turns filling the bottom of the filter with course gravel. Levels were checked often to ensure the filter would function properly.  Nora sometimes needed help with the heavy buckets!
Here is Elsie checking the level of the gravel before we could add in the sand.  She would check with a marked stick.  Finally a diffuser was added to the top and a galvanized steel lid.

Installations are being done inside the homes with the idea that they will be used more than if they were outside where they would also be too near livestock.
We learned that concrete is used for the filter instead of a much lighter plastic bucket ( which would work equally as well) because often the plastic bucket would be dismantled and the very useful bucket would end up being used for some different purpose.  This was a sand  filter sent down after hurricane Mitch and is now being used as a water bucket.
And this little cutie, with her brother and dog in the background, are overseeing operations.   I think she will be happy to have a drink of 'sweet water' as the Nica's call this clean water.