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Engineers Without Borders Complete Water System Project

May 7, 2019
Comunidad Maya de Nueve de Enero Water System Project
Volunteers in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) travel to Guatemala to evaluate the performance of the upgraded water system.

Volunteers in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) recently wrapped up final details of the Comunidad Maya De Nueve De Enero, Guatemala Water System Project.  EWB volunteers who travelled to Guatemala for this final community visit pressure tested the water system and interviewed community members to assess how to the upgraded water system was performing.  Project Manager Tony Lew, a Mechanical Engineering student, shared the following quotes from community members:

“Tenemos agua, gracias, gracias" which translates to "We have water, thank you, thank you."

Another was translated to us from a Mayan dialect, "We can live without so many other things, but we cannot live without water. Thank you for bringing us water."

Project Manager Amanda Harris, a Civil Engineering student, stated the scope of the project was to improve an existing water system that had been implemented in the early 2000’s.  The gravity fed spring water system provides for a community of approximately 1,000 residents who regularly went without water for 3-4 days because there was not enough water due to lack of pressure and a low flow rate.  The EWB project was able to improve that system by making some piping changes and laying additional pipe.  It made it possible for all to have water on demand. 

The newest EWB project will also be a water project for Parcelamiento Natividad de Maria La Reforma San Marcos in Guatemala.  Students chose to do a similar, but brand new water project based on experiences gained from the first Guatemala project.  Amanda Harris stated, “Logistics are really difficult when planning a trip to a place you’ve never been with a large group of students.”  A similar project was chosen because students know how to use these resources and will be able to travel more.

 In the latest water project, a similar water delivery system is needed, but there isn’t much of an existing system for a larger community where nearly 1300 families in a certain region have water issues.  Project Manager Anthony Rivers, a Civil Engineering major, explained the project as follows, “The plan is remove and replace existing systems for the two springs with the potential to include a 3rd spring.  At this time the complaint is they have intermittent access to water that is not enough.  It will be water flow as the primary concern and with a secondary concern of water treatment.”

EWB always welcomes new members from all areas (not just engineering) and encourages students to join as early as their freshman year.  Project Manager Allison Davis, an Electrical Engineering student, says, “It’s so much more than just design.”  There are many moving parts to every project and a variety of student backgrounds can contribute in a meaningful way to these service projects.

For more information about EWB at UW, contact Allison Davis at or Anthony Rivers at

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