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Sonoma County's Engineers Without Borders Aide Peruvian Village


Sonoma County's Engineers Without Borders Aide Peruvian Village

 What would you do if yesterday your drinking water supply was contaminated and you had no other source of clean water? The inhabitants of Jaldar, located on the Yarapa River in the Peruvian Amazon, were faced with great adversity when their previously pristine river and sole water source had its banks erode and join with the nearby muddy and polluted Ucayali River. People soon began falling ill and the villagers had to look for water elsewhere.

EWB members stand with village construction workers in front of the completed Rainwater Collection System.Solutions were hard to come by and often villagers were forced to take an hour trek to the village of Nuevo Jerusalen and collect water from its Tahuayo River. Even this fix can prove unhealthy as the seasonal Amazonian floods raise that river’s level over its banks, causing the water to gather pollutants from shorelines. During these times of high water, both villages are without a clean drinking water source.

In 2014, the Sonoma County Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-SCP), along with its local partner NGO Amazon Promise, came to the aide of these two villages, helping relieve their pressing need for a reliable source of clean drinking water. Engineers Without Borders is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to support community-driven development programs worldwide through partnerships that design and implement sustainable engineering projects.

Using locally sourced materials, eight volunteers from the local EWB chapter spent four weeks assisting and training villagers in constructing rainwater-harvesting systems attached to their schoolhouse.  Completed in June 2014, the rainwater collection system consisted of attaching gutters to the existing schoolhouse roof and directing rain through a disinfection system to a series of holding tanks, then on to a carbon filter and community tap. At the project’s end, both villages had a new, reliable source for clean drinking water and community members had the know-how to keep the system running. 

An EWB member educating local school children about clean water and the new Rainwater Collection System.

This past May, three members of the chapter returned to Jaldar and Nuevo Jerusalen to evaluate the success of the project and look into opportunities for future projects in the area. They visited three new villages, and interviewed members of the communities to determine the needs of each village, and how EWB-SCP can help. 

“It was great to see the two rainwater harvesting and treatment systems our chapter installed last year still functioning as designed and providing safe drinking water to the villagers,” said Ben Campanile, a Sales Manager with Jerry & Don’s Yager Pump & Well and one the EWB-SCP members that has just returned from Peru. “The direct and immediate impact of providing safe drinking water to a village is indisputable and personally very rewarding.”

“It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to work on projects that directly improve the lives of

Local children overseeing construction and lending a hand.But your local chapter of Engineers Without Borders can’t do it alone, and there are several ways to help! The Chapter will be hosting a wine-tasting fundraising event at DeTurk Round Barn on Saturday, November 7th and they invite everyone to come out, taste some fine local wines, and learn more about their upcoming projects being developed for Peruvian villages. others,” said Bryan Bei, a Senior Natural Resources Program Assistant with the Sonoma County Water Agency. “It was also eye-opening to see the amount of need that still exists in the region for further improvements in water, sanitation, hygiene, and health. I am excited to see our relationships with these communities grow in the future, and for our work to expand into neighboring communities in the region.” 

If you’re interested in more hands-on involvement, the chapter meets every first and third Thursday of the month at Summit Engineering, their first Corporate Sponsor. Feel free to drop in for a meeting at 6PM at 463 Aviation Blvd, Suite 200, down the road from Charles Shultz Airport. 

If you want to learn more, you can visit their Facebook Page or contact