February 18, 2018
We had cool sleeping weather last night. I even needed more than a sheet – this is a first! During the night, the dogs that run loose here probably run in packs; last night they must have been going after a rooster because there was lots of crowing and barking in the middle of the night. Around 4:00 am many roosters started crowing in earnest and were still going strong when I got up around 5:30 am. We had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, refried beans, rolls, papaya, plantain, and strong coffee. Chema then drove us to the Lempa River to get on a boat to go to Isla MonteCristo. When we arrived there were 400 members of Young Life there– quite a crowd for that small community of 35 families! Young Life has been coming out every year for 7 years from Buffalo, NY to spend a week helping local communities with service projects. Since we were there on Sunday, they were taking the day off and enjoying Isla MonteCristo. We met one of the leaders and talked to them about the existing MonteCristo water supply well. Young Life paid for the reverse osmosis water treatment system there about 5 years ago and then was paying about $700/year for a technician to come from San Salvador to maintain the treatment system. At some point in time they quit coming out and we don’t know why. There has also been a problem with the groundwater level dropping in the well so they can’t get enough water from the well. We exchanged information with Young Life as they are trying to contact a technician to fix the water treatment system. This could be a backup to the new well in a nearby cashew orchard we are hoping to design and install along with a pipeline to take the water to the existing storage tank in the center of MonteCristo.
We rode on a cart pulled by a motorcycle to go out to the cashew orchard about a mile from the main part of MonteCristo. It was bumpy, but we were glad we didn’t have to carry all our equipment on the path as before. We had planned to watch the community members jet in some test wells today, but plans changed as the community members were busy with the Young Life group today; we will watch them jet the wells in tomorrow. After our trip in May, the community members tried to install some test wells with the equipment we brought for them. They had problems with the couplings breaking so we wanted to try it ourselves and see if we could figure out what went wrong. It was much drier than the last time we were here – there was no water visible in the mangroves at the edge of the orchard and the area looked very dry. I did see a big lizard on a log in the area thought – we’re going to look for it tomorrow and try to get a picture. It is the dry season here and we can really tell. The depth to water in the existing cashew orchard well is much deeper than last time. However, we tested the water and it is still fresh. We are installing test wells to evaluate the depth to groundwater and water quality changes over the dry and wet seasons to make sure a new well here would consistently provide good quality water. We (well – not me since I took notes) hand augered down to the water table and then pounded in a wellpoint. We figured out the problem with the well point driving was that the driver had an inside diameter a little too small for the drive cap on the well point. Therefore, we had to pound in the well point with a coupling – the same as the community members had done which eventually stripped the threads on the coupling. However, we were able to get a wellpoint driven to about 12 feet and learned that the pounding was loosening the coupling. We think that if we stopped regularly to tighten the coupling, we could avoid stripping the threads.
It was hot at MonteCristo today (but still not as hot as we have experienced here before). This made us really appreciate the coconuts at lunch with a straw in them so we could drink the coconut juice. We also had grilled fish, rice with vegetables, tortillas, and vegetables. It was delicious and I remembered not to feed the cats hanging around our table, Last trip I was giving some tidbits of fish to a cat and she tried to climb up on the bench and bite me to get more fish. After a delicious lunch we spent some time with Giavanny (past Mayor of MonteCristo) and Antonio (current Mayor of MonteCristo) discussing the project and options. It was a good conversation and we really feel like we are getting the information we need to design a new well and pipeline. Tomorrow we will meet a laboratory representative onsite who will collect a sample from the existing cashew orchard well to test it for a wide range of potential contaminants to make sure the water is safe to drink.
We are sitting around the table in the common area at Ciudad Romero now enjoying lively conversation after a delicious supper of chicken with vegetables, rice, tortillas, watermelon, and limeade. I am going to take a nice cold shower now and go to bed. I think maybe I will put in some earplugs when the roosters start crowing!