It has been a longer journey than we anticipated, but clean drinking water is now provided to a dedicated faucet in the main kitchen. This eliminates the need to boil water every day to supply the houses and to provide drinking water for the children to take to school. No more wasting money on propane for boiling. No more running out of drinking water before they run out of day.
The process required ordering numerous components from the U.S. and Canada as they were not available here. We could have sourced items here to install a system without the safety feature that we wanted, and that was not acceptable. Sourcing what we wanted from the U.S. increased the cost by more than $450, but that was a small price to pay for the security that we felt was imperative. The photo below shows the complete system. We did have one mishap. When they cut into the concrete to create a slot for the wiring, they managed to cut the water pipe. That was more than an hour of draining water, repairing the pipe and then patching the wall. The patch can be seen in the photo.
I think that the only items in this photo that were sourced in Peru would include the pipes, the valves and the board the system is mounted on. We could not source the clear filter containers, and we wanted those so that a visual inspection of the filters was possible without taking them apart. We also could not source the quality of filters that we wanted, the UV sterilizer that would accept a solenoid valve to protect against using contaminated water in the event of bulb failure, low UV emission or electrical failure. To us, that was a priority. In the event of any of those circumstances, the vale closes and the water supply is shut off. No chance of using contaminated water.
At the top center of the board is the UV monitor that indicates UV emission, running at a perfect 99%, counts the days until bulb replacement and also sounds an alarm if there is any bulb failure of loss of UV. To the right of that is a circuit breaker that protects the system from any possible electrical overload. At the far left is the brass solenoid valve connected to the UV sterilizer. To the right, mounted on a separate board, is a pump that guarantees a constant flow of 3 gallons per minute, sufficient to push water through the large carbon filter at the bottom right. The system includes the carbon filter and two sediment filters. The valve at the lower left is only for draining the system when we need to change the UV bulb or the filters.
In the photo below you can see the new water tank on the right. This tank is dedicated solely to drinking and cooking water as well as washing fruits and vegetables. The other tank will receive untreated water and will be used only for cleaning.
On my visit there today I did another check of the system and everything was perfect. The best part, everyone was thrilled with it. The work of boiling and distributing drinking water is a thing of the past. The days of the children going thirsty in late afternoon and at night because the boiled water had been used up, history. Every morning they fill the water jugs for the houses from the dedicated faucet in less than 20 minutes. When they need a refill, no problem. We have done a lot of things here,but I rate this as by far the most rewarding thing that we have accomplished. We could not have done it without the generous donations of some wonderful people.
This was an immediate solution to one problem. To be honest, it was a bit like picking low hanging fruit. In spite of Murphey’s Law and a few obstacles, it was not that difficult and the cost came in at just under $2,000. Now we intend to reach higher up the tree for that elusive fruit. We are investigating and planning for phase 2 which would involve setting them on a path to use only water from the well and never from the river (except for watering gardens etc), cleansing the 45,000 liter cistern as well as the pipes leading to the houses and the interior plumbing with a chlorine shock, installing some form of purification system to the cistern (likely chlorine injection and ozone treatment) and feeding clean water to every house. Clean water to drink, brush their teeth, shower, wash their clothes and clean their dishes. This would also involve installing a solar electric system at the well location and eliminating the need to spend $1,000 a month on diesel fuel to run the existing pump. We would also move to using a submersible well pump instead of the elevated pump that they now use. The details are complex and I am not the one with the expertise to design it. That job belongs to Randy, who has been amazing in terms of his help and knowledge. I know that he is mulling over this project already and will come up with a detailed plan. The frightening part will be the cost. That will be huge by comparison to what we spent on Phase 1.
Wish us luck.