2013 La Romana



The KC Professional Chapter of Engineers without Borders traveled to Kilometer 6 in La Romana, Dominican Republic, this past June and continued working on the site utilities that were started by the UMKC Chapter in 2010. The utilities serve a school and church founded by the Jean Luc Phanord Foundation who are currently providing K-6 education to about 200 students and a church congregation of 600. The focus of the Foundation is to serve the poorest students in this large Haitian refugee community who do not have the resources or money to purchase uniforms and books that are required to attend public schools.

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                              The Streets of Kilometer 6                                          The Amazing People


EWB’s original commitment in 2010 was to investigate alternatives and help the Foundations establish a reliable water supply for the site. An onsite deep well was determined to be the best alternative and EWB installed a well and elevated water tank in 2011 in partnership with COAAROM, the regional water authority. Unfortunately, the power utility’s supply grid in the area was so weak that it could not support the water system needs. When the team returned 2012 to commission the system, they were surprised to find the school open and serving 100 happy, smiling students, even though the water system was not yet operational and there was little or no electricity.

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                   Meeting with the Regional Water Authority                                                 EWB Scaffold Crew

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                        Arrival of the Water Tank                                               New Well and Elevated Tank

The presence of students raised the obvious concern for safety with all of the construction in various stages of completion.

DR7New Students

A quick examination by EWB revealed so many safety hazards with the electrical supply which had been spliced together from miscellaneous sizes of wire and extension cords, that the trip focus was immediately changed to address the student safety around the electrical system. Working closely with a local electrician and electrical engineer, a complete new power supply; including transformer, meters, power panels, and cable enclosed in conduit was designed and installed during this trip.

DR8New Power Supply

Even with the new power supply for the site, the water authority was not able to operate the pump reliably due to periods of extreme low voltage in the power grid and eventually their pump burned up. This year the KC Professional Chapter returned with new and sustainable equipment in tow. A new Grundfos SQ Flex well pump that is capable of operating on variable AC voltage as well as solar panels was installed along with 6 solar panels capable of running the pump so that the system will function reliably with or without electrical power from the utility.

In addition, the team installed a Sawyer hollow fiber membrane filter that is capable of filtering bacteria and viruses out of the water and disinfection system so that once water quality testing is completed by the water authority the system should be capable of meeting all of the sites water needs, including drinking water.

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      New Water Filter & Chlorinator                                             Expanding the Septic System

Finally, EWB recognized that the site wastewater system, consisting of an undersized septic tank without a leachate drain was not sustainable once a water system was in use by 200 students. The chapter installed a second, larger septic tank in series with the existing one and a vertical leachate drain for disposal of the treated wastewater.

This year’s trip was a huge success thanks to major funding contributions from the Black & Veatch Foundation, ATK, Air & Waste Management Association, and the KC Professional Chapter and hundreds of hours of volunteer engineering by chapter members. Although the Chapter will meet it’s 5 year commitment to the site after a monitoring trip next year, it has formed such great relationships with Foundation members, local residents, teachers and students that many members have vowed to continue working with other volunteer groups that work at and support the Foundation’s efforts, either through continued affiliation with EWB or through outside organizations and societies.

DR11               New friends       DR12

Last modified on Friday, 16 August 2013 22:31