Chortiz Village – Guatemala

Submitted by Maria Bartrum | Location: Chortiz, Guatemala | NGO: Engineers Without Borders | Date: Feb. 21-26, 2013

The village of Chortiz in Guatemala is at an elevation of about 10,500 feet.  The only way to get to it is by way of mules and human power! So we hiked to get there. It was an amazing experience and I was able to document the construction over 4 days of a 10,000L water tank, spring box and trench while I was there.  This project was funded by Engineers Without Borders, and I was there with a chapter of EWB from the Milwaukee School of Engineers, including 6 students and their professor.  In addition, a professional engineer from Milwaukee came as a mentor to help supervise the project. The Chortiz School water project funded by Blue Planet Network was completed in 2011.

Day 1

After hiking with the students from the Milwaukee School of Engineers for ~3 hours and 3,500 feet in elevation, we reached the village of Chortiz, where a water project for the entire village is underway that will match the one in Chautuj that was completed last year. These students belong to a chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Accompanying the six students is their professor, Willie Gonwa and a mentor, who is a professional engineer, Christopher Hitch, both involved with EWB and dedicated to seeing this project through in Chortiz.

Day 2

The water tank construction begins! The vertical and horizontal rebar supports are attached to maintain the structure of the water tank. Measurements are taken from the two wells to the tank and the trench from the spring box is being cleared of large rocks and dug today. In addition, gravel for the cement that they will need is gathered from the area. Later in the evening, there is a meeting with the committee from the town to discuss the plan for the water system and to clarify in last minute details. Both the professor from the Milwaukee School of Engineers, Willie Gonwa and head mason, Diego Rameriz, explain the particulars of the project to the committee.

Day 3

The water system of the village of Chortiz continues to make great strides today! All hands are on deck as three students begin to test water samples from the local wells and lagoons, netting and concrete is applied to both the water tank and spring box and a community meeting is scheduled for the evening to address any concerns from the village at large. Very exciting to watch and document the progress today!

Day 4 & 5

The final day of the water tank and spring box completion is here! Everyone, including the villagers and the participants from Milwaukee have worked very hard together on this project. This system will benefit this community in the highlands of Guatemala and will service approximately 170 people of the town. The town contributes the sweat equity, construction materials and small maintenance costs and the funding for the masons and other construction costs come from donors. Engineers Without Borders provided funding and sweat equity as well with 6 student volunteer from the Milwaukee School of Engineers and the two supervisors, Willie Gonwa, a professor at MSOE and a Milwaukee engineer and mentor, Christopher Hitch. With the supervision and direction of Agua Para La Salud, this project has come to fruition in the village of Chortiz, Guatemala.

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