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ETHOS | Guatemala


During the summer of 2014, Chris Baxter, Colleen Kresse, Kyle Slone, and Iván Rodríguez will be participating in the University of Dayton’s ETHOS Program. ETHOS stands for Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-Learning. The mission of the program is to apply the technical skills of engineering students to a project that will improve the life quality of a community in the developing world. This group of students will be traveling to the village of Cortijo, located in the south central Department of Escuintla in Guatemala


Cortijo does not have a reliable source of water. The community currently receives its water from the City of Palín. The administration board in Palin only provides one hour of running water per day. Water enters the village through a pipeline which discharges into a plastic tank that holds 22,000 liters (5,800) of water. The water is then distributed to the community of 400 people over a period of two hours in the morning. In addition to this low volume of water, Cortijo may experience days when the village does not receive any water. Also, the water from the pipe is not potable. The village uses two methods currently to disinfect the water: boil it, or add chlorine or bleach.


Several options of projects to improve the water system have been proposed to the students. Several members of the community currently walk 1.5 kilometers to a stream to retrieve water when the tank is low. Current information suggests that the stream provides a constant flow and enters into a pool along the stream at a certain point. The students would investigate this option due to its current buy in from the members of the community. In order to consider this, the team must have a topographical survey of the land. As a result of research, topographical surveys have been found and can be purchased. However, the group will not be able to see how well the map represents the area until it is purchased. Also, the topography may have changed over several years. The community sits near mostly dormant, but some active volcanoes. Therefore, the team will explore the need to conduct a topographical survey of the community.

Once a source is determined, the team will approach different routes and designs for a new water system. They will also research possible treatment options of the water in addition to the current solutions. In addition to addressing the current issues, the team must also design for the future. The villagers of Cortijo also wish to expand their community, and have plans to expand the population to 1600 people within 4 years.

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