The EWB Iowa Professional Chapter worked with non-governmental partners in El Salvador and the United States to improve a domestic water system in the Tierra Blanca region of El Salvador. An existing water system served four hundred families, or approximately 1,600 people, relying on water pumped directly from a well into the distribution network. The addition of two storage tanks would improve service to existing customers who only received water for a few hours each day, reduce wear and tear on the well pump, and enable the future connection of an additional 120 families.
Water is pumped to the tanks from a deep well located approximately two kilometers from the site. When it leaves the tanks, the water is distributed to three nearby communities. Using data about the water distribution system gathered by Clemson University's EWB Chapter during an earlier site visit, the Iowa Professional Chapter completed designs for two above-grade concrete block water storage tanks with a combined capacity of approximately 68,000 gallons, or roughly two days of water demand. The design and construction methods were selected to allow for local labor and materials to be used.
The storage tanks were designed by the Iowa Professional EWB Chapter and built with the help of the local community. Over the course of two trips to El Salvador in 2012, a group of Iowa Professional EWB members (including several students) oversaw the construction of the concrete foundation for the first water tank and performed an initial health assessment for the Tierra Blanca community. In 2015, a group again traveled to assist in construction - this time for the second tank. Throughout the week, a trench was dug, gravel was shoveled, blocks were laid, more gravel was shoveled, and the beginnings of the second tank's foundation was formed. When the Iowa Professionals Chapter next saw the site, the tanks were completed and functioning as designed!