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Visit to Marcala, La Paz- AguaClara Water Treatment Plant

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Visit to Marcala, La Paz with the Mayor of Tocoa (Hector Hernandez) / Sermunast to inspect and learn about the AguaClara Treatment Plant installed with the cooperation of Cornell University (https://confluence.cornell.edu/display/AGUACLARA/) and other Cooperants.-  The purpose is to study the possibility of Implementing this technology in the Tocoa Water System.

AguaClara Treatment Plant Concept.-  The Cornell University

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WMI members; ADEC; Municipality of Tocoa and Sermunast Board Members during the visit to Marcala, La Paz


Background.-
Daniel Smith and Jacobo Nuñez, of APP-Agua Clara Office in Tegucigalpa, visited Tocoa in October 2010 after being invited by Water Missions International's Honduras Office to give a presentation of the Agua Clara Technology to both SERMUNAST and the Bo. San Isidro Water Board.  This invitation was given after a presentation of the Agua Clara Technology at a water forum we attended in San Pedro Sula, Honduras early that year, and knowing the serious issue of the water quality both in the Tocoa urban area and in the five neighborhoods that get 'potable' water service from the Bo. San Isidro system, where they get totally unreasonable high turbidity readings of up to more than 1000 NTU after every heavy rain in the area (and documented fecal coliform readings of up 600 col/100ml) since there is no treatment at all of the piped water sent through these systems to more than 10,000 households altogether.
These sample photos show a week trial of all the dirt captured by a simple filter hooked up to these water systems during the dry season.  We carried out the same experiment during the rainy season and noticed the conditions doubled in one-day period.
Water Missions International's Mission is to be the best in class Christian Engineering Ministry that transforms lives through sustainable safe water solutions and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Water Missions International is a nonprofit Christian engineering ministry providing sustainable safe water solutions, through a Christian world view perspective, to people in developing countries and disasters. We approach all our work with a sense of urgency and a commitment to excellence. Our faith and our belief in the sanctity of life compel us to develop and implement the best technologies and community development programs so that, through our work, God will be honored and glorified and lives will be transformed for eternity.  Clean water is the source of life. It is the foundation for health, education, and viable economies.
Because of the above, we have being preoccupied of the lack of attention to the problem of giving access to 'safe water' to so many families and people, and the lack of resources by local authorities in Tocoa to face and solve this problem.  We have provided a solution to this problem by installing several of our own LWTSTM Systems in the different peripheral neighborhoods in part, but have been approached by local current Mayor, Hector Hernandez, to help them find a comprehensive solution to the problem so that basic standards are met to provide potable, drinkable water through the grid piped system in the town.  While we are not trying to particularly endorse any specific type of treatment plant at this point, we are willing to help facilitate an economic, sustainable solution to the problem faced by our people and have started looking at the options by considering Agua Clara, as we may consider any other suitable solution taking into account the funds availability that the Municipality of Tocoa may have. 

The Visit.-
We left Tocoa early morning of Monday, October 10th, driving for about 9 hours until we got to Marcala. We were met and greeted by Marcala´s Mayor, Rigoberto Hernandez and his Municipal Council at the Town Hall that afternoon, to explain and plan a tour to the treatment plant, designed by the Engineering Department of Cornell University and built with the sponsorship of several other organizations.

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Partial view of the Marcala Municipal Council, headed by Mayor Rigoberto Hernandez, greeting the Tocoa Commission headed by Mayor Hector Hernandez.

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Member of the Marcala City Council and Mayor Hector Hernandez during the reception and greeting of the Tocoa Commission.

Next day, Tuesday October 11th, after being given a brief explanation by IRWA Field Coordinator and past Cornell associate, Mr. Fred Stottlemyer (http://intlruralwater.org/about-us/our-team), who was visiting the town, we headed out to the site where two Agua Clara plants are installed, one with a capacity of treating and producing 550 gpm and a second one with a capacity of 180 gpm.

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Mayors, Hector Hernandez and Rigoberto Hernandez; Mr. Fred Stottlemyer and Peace Corps fellow, Daniel Garcia.

We toured the facility and explanations were received from the above mentioned people as well as technicians of the Municipal Water Service and ADEC's facilitators.

At the time of the visit, there was a turbidity of about 160NTU's incoming to the plant due to recent rains in the area.  After addition of the proper amount of Alum (Aluminum Sulfate) to flocculate suspended solids in the raw water, the turbidity was lowered to about 4NTU's through the flocculation process, before they putting chlorine to about 2.5 ppm for a contact period of about 45 min.

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Raw water from the source entering the tanks with high turbidity and high bacteria content.  Local technician explaining how the treatment process is started at this point.


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Alum addition tanks


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Flocculation process tanks


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Raw, clean water after flocculation in the process of being added chlorine at 2.5ppm for a 45 minutes contact period before it goes to the public grid.
Tocoa has a population of about 45,000 people, compared to 14,000 in Marcala.  So, just by comparing sizes between the two cities, Tocoa would need about three times the installed capacity in Marcala, considering the local testimonials that they are just about complying with the local demand.  About 8,100 households are served through the Municipal Water Service (Sermunast), while there is an additional 1,000 households approximately, which are served by the community-based Water Board of Barrio San Isidro, which in turn, comprises about 6 small districts in the south-eastern area of Tocoa, through a separate grid.

We may be helping the Municipality of Tocoa put together an 'Investment Proposal' to search for funding for this potential, but needed, Safe Water Project, which in turn, could be used to submit to Government Agencies or International Organizations to fund this much needed improvement for the people of Tocoa.  It will probably be a 'split' project: a main proposal to serve most of Tocoa through the Municipal Service (Sermunast) and a smaller one to serve about 1,000 households through the community-based Board in the San Isidro district.

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Small mobile water analysis lab installed at the treatment plant.  Signs of the plant with names of the participating organizations providing funding for their project.


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At the end of the visit, Mr. Fred Stottlemyer, through ADEC, donated 50 water meters to the Mayor of Tocoa (and it seems some Marcala coffee too!), which will be used in a pilot project to monitor water usage in local car wash businesses.







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