San Lorenzo, Guatemala
Our chapter, as well as EWB-Inland Empire Professional and University of California Riverside, partnered with the community of San Lorenzo, Guatemala in an effort to rectify extreme rationing and contamination of their water supply. The association between these chapters and the community progressed for the better part of three years.
San Lorenzo is located in the Valle de la Ermita, a mountain valley in the south central part of the country. The city of Antigua, with a population of 30,000, serves as a central hub for small communities in the area. San Lorenzo, and its neighboring communities are only a short drive by truck.
With a population of roughly 4,000, the community struggled with a system lacking the capacity to supply a sufficient amount of clean water.
Our goal began with improving the existing supply components by constructing a 90 cubic meter water tank. Due to the seismically active nature of the region, we opted to build the tank using a process known as ferrocement. We selected this process because it offered a wider degree of flexibility than reinforced concrete, which tends to crack on seismic loading.
The next phase of the project was focused on improving the existing treatment components. From UV rays to slow sand filters, we investigated a range of methods to achieve contaminant-free water for the community.
With these renovations, our hope was to alleviate the people of San Lorenzo from suffering from scarcity of water and water-borne illnesses.
The ferrocement procedure produced an end product that was rigid enough to contain water but flexible enough to withstand earthquakes and other seismic events. Specifically speaking, ferrocement structures are built with a much higher ratio of iron to concrete than their reinforced concrete counterparts. The main concern in using this process was the intense hydrostatic forces that occur at the base of the tank. However, the stresses were compensated for by reinforcing the base of the tank with higher levers of tensile capacity, namely re-bar and wire mesh.