Clean, accessible drinking water is vital to any community in the world and since 2017, a coalition of groups and organizations has been actively working together to improve water quality and water system infrastructure in Quezalguaque, a poor, rural community of approximately 12,000 residents.
Working in collaboration with community water committees, the municipal government of Quezalguaque, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma of Nicaragua (UNAN) in Leon, and ECODES, a Spanish NGO, a baseline study of the rural water system was conducted in 2017 to identity the main problems in the water system. Following the study, training for lay community water committee leaders and municipal authorities was conducted.
In 2018, improvements in the system are scheduled along with a second round of training aimed at strengthening the capacity of community water committees to better maintain their water systems and ensure clean drinking water.
Pictured below are Brookline Sister City Board members and consultants working in Quezalguaque earlier this year on the clean water initiative. The Sister City Project has awarded $47,700 to date to support this initiative.
Contaminated Wells & Distribution Systems
The focus of the initiative is on 7 rural water systems in Quezalguaque serving approximately 80% of the population. Sister City Project funded water quality studies in 2017 found that 4 of 12 wells had microbial contamination and all of the distribution systems for the wells were contaminated. None of the 7 communities had working chlorination systems.
The largest of the seven rural systems serving almost 2,000 people was supplying less than 2 hours per day of water because the well was inadequate to meet demand. Some households had water service from, e.g., 8 to 10 am and others from 10 am to noon or noon to 2 pm.
Nicaraguan engineers funded by the Sister City Project are currently developing specifications for equipment needed to address infrastructure issues in wells, water storage tanks and the distribution system. Thanks to financial support from the Brookline Rotary and Rotary International, it is expected that equipment will be purchased later this year enabling chlorination of the entire rural water system. Funds will also be used to make repairs in the 7 systems and to operationalize a new well for the community with inadequate supply where households are receiving only two hours per day of water. The municipality of Quezalguaque and Brookline’s Sister City Project will be contributing more funds to this overall effort.
Plans are also underway to address the lack of on-going water quality testing. With further funding, it is hoped that concerns about water quality and contaminants and additional infrastructure needs can be addressed.