El Salvador

El Salvador


This EWB-UW Project begin in 2006 through the partnership of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Rotary International. At the onset of the project before EWB became involved, the communities of La Granja and Nuevo Ferrocarril lacked infrastructure for the collection and treatment of wastewater generated from cooking, cleaning and bathing. Without proper wastewater mitigation, pathogenic bacteria proliferated in stagnant wastewater pools in the streets posing a health threat to the residents of the communities. To solve this problem, EWB designed a gravity-fed collection system to eliminate the grey water from the streets and transport it to the nearby wastewater treatment plant.

La Granja

The first phase of the project involved connecting the first community, La Granja, to the wastewater treatment plant. Following a detailed assessment and design process, EWB implemented the pipeline in January 2008 and 2009. After the 2009 implementation, EWB-UW left plans for the remainder of the pipeline in La Granja with community members, the mayor’s office of Nejapa, and San Salvador Rotary Club contacts. These groups collaborated to complete construction of the system by summer 2009. Residents have been using the collection system since then without problems, resulting in significant decrease in the amount of grey water in the streets as houses connect to the system.

The Bridge

In the next phase of the project the gravity-fed design forced the pipeline to cross a large ravine between the two communities. Thus, students partnered with experienced structural engineers to design this bridge, planned to be fabricated by local contractors and placed during the January 2010 trip. Due to financial delays, fabrication did not begin until the trip. Nonetheless, the travel team was able to completely build the abutments and begin fabrication. Over the course of the summer, the truss was finished, and the bridge was placed in the ravine. During the August 2010 trip, the concrete deck was poured, completing the bridge. This bridge has served the community members well since its opening and provides a highly frequented transportation path between La Granja and Nuevo Ferrocarril.

Nuevo Ferrocarril

The next phase of this project involved completing the system installation in the upper community, Nuevo Ferrocarril, which connected to the pipe under the bridge. EWB executed a partial implementation in January 2011, connecting the school in Nuevo Ferrocarril to the newly-installed system. Further implementation resumed in January of 2012 during an EWB trip, in which pipe was installed in nearly half of the community. Designs were then passed onto community leaders who accepted the responsibility of finalizing the implementation with assistance from the local government and a certified engineer from the area.

Monitoring and Looking Ahead

Most recently, EWB has focused on monitoring the existing pipeline to verify the success and functionality of the project. In addition, community leaders have been given a comprehensive operations and maintenance manual to provide all necessary information for proper care of the system. EWB hopes to purchase a rodding (cleaning) device for the pipeline. Furthermore, students provided the communities with a new business of creating water-recycling sinks to promote better hygiene throughout the communities. EWB-UW will continue its microbial and epidemiological study of La Granja and Nuevo Ferrocarril in order to track the benefits of the water collection system. Finally, the local government in Nejapa has made a request for EWB-UW to assist on a similar pipeline system in a nearby community. This new project is scheduled to be assessed during the summer of 2013.

Jen, Erin, Matt, Flor, and our security guard investigating the flow in one of the manholes

Katie and Tom testing the water taken from the communities’ streets for contaminants

John at Los Ranchos, the beautiful Hostel where we got to stay

Cody and Eddie demonstrating how to make water-conserving sinks

Our project was featured in an online magazine Engineering for Change: Click here to view