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Zacatecoluca, El Savador

 

The community of La Espanola is located in a section of Zacatecaluca and is home to approximately 100 families or 500 people. Currently they have a well that draws contaminated water from the aquifer below. During the Salvadorian Civil War farm lands in this area were over treated with pesticides. Over time, almost all the wells were contaminated with these toxic chemicals because the community is subject to flooding. Recently, the local hospital reported that large clusters of cancer are emerging, particularly liver cancer. This is a highly controversial and sensitive issue in the region because no particular post war side wants to claim responsibility for cleaning up the contamination or treating the many cases of cancer that are surfacing which are very likely due to the chemical contamination of the water.

 

The citizens are practically accustomed to living in sickness. It is very common for cases of waterborne illness in children who have undeveloped immune systems. The local hospital is used to seeing such patients on a regular basis and dispensing medication, usually antibiotics. The widespread and regular use of antibiotics is also contributing to another growing global concern about the development of "superbugs" bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics over time. Although the citizens are very appreciative for the no cost help from the local government, the current course of treatment is not sustainable. We spoke with the Mayor about considering the savings his city would gain by investing in solving the problem (water contamination) as opposed to treating the symptoms. He is excited to entertain long term solutions and he is grateful that our organization is interested in partnering with his city to assist this effort.

 

Problem: Chemical/ biological contamination of groundwater.

 

Possible solutions: Construct a centralized community water filter/storage tank that utilizes slow sand filtration and locally gathered lava rock filtration tanks to remove toxic chemicals.

 

Estimated costs: $10,000-25,000

 

Our goals for this project include:

 

1) Reducing illness caused by lack of water for basic sanitary practices.

2) Reducing the risk of neck injuries to children during water collection and transportation.

3) Reducing water stress and scarcity.

4) Providing instruction and training on construction such systems.

5) Encouraging communication among adjacent communities of learned systems.

6) Educating community on widely accepted hygiene, sanitation practices, and watershed protection.

7) Alleviating local government burden.

8) Investigating the use localy obtianed lava rock for removing chemical contaminants.