Last June 14, the inauguration of the drinking water system for schools and Santa Clotilde Hospital on the Napo River, Peru, took place. Former Wings of Hope pilot Bruce Edwards (3rd on the picture) and his wife, Dr. Elisa Mori Torres, represented our organization on this occasion. We invite you to read the report by Bruce Edwards.
On June 12 myself and my wife, Dr Elisa Mori Torres travelled from Lima to Iquitos, Peru. Early on the following day we met with other members of PANGO Peru and PANGO Canada prior to departing to Mazan by boat. Mazan is located on the Amazon River about thirty minutes downstream from Iquitos. At this point the Napo River is only a few kilometres from the Amazon. The portage to the Napo River is a shortcut which makes it possible to travel to Santa Clotilde in one day. We arrived at the Napo River by moto taxi and boarded a speedboat. We were pleased to meet Juan Simon (left on the picture) and his team from Water Mission at the river port.
The trip upstream is about 200 kilometres and took about five hours. The trip could only be described as amazing. There is very little traffic on the river and the shoreline is only broken by the odd village or small farm.
Once in Santa Clotilde we were warmly welcomed by Mother Ana Laura and the mothers from the school. As part of the official inauguration we were given a tour by Juan Simon from Water Mission. Water Mission was responsible for the construction and commissioning of the project.
The water source is a spring which was assessed by Water Mission for water purity and flow rate. Even in the dry season the spring’s capacity will greatly exceed the water demand. A sealed collector was constructed at the spring. The water flows directly out of the ground and through a gravel bed. The gravel was transported all the way from Pucallpa. This is a distance of over 800 kilometres by river barge. There is no gravel available locally anywhere in the Amazon basin. This was one of many challenges during the construction phase. All materials including cement, bricks and pipes were transported from Iquitos. Once arriving at Santa Clotilde there is no direct road access to the site so much of the material would have been carried by hand or cart.
Once the water is collected it flows by gravity to a large 5000 litre cistern. The water collector and cistern were both constructed with a concrete base. The Water Mission team told me that one of the biggest challenges was building the cistern in an area that is permanently wet and muddy.
A Grundfos submersible pump is installed in the cistern. The pump delivers water to three separate water towers. One tower serves the hospital and the two others supply the school. Each tower can operate independently if there is a malfunction in one of the other towers.
The third and principal tower located on the school grounds is equipped with the central control system. One of the ten qualified operators manually operate valves to fill each water tower. The electric pump is solar powered and the system is designed to operate exclusively on solar energy. Each water tower has enough water to last over a day. The system is designed however to easily switch over to the municipal power system if there is ever a problem with the solar system. The system also incorporates a Grundfos control panel. The panel is semi automatic and will shut of the pump once a tank is full. However, the operator must manually switch the water towers. All of the components in the system can be serviced locally from Iquitos. The quality of construction is very high. I expect this system to be very dependable and easily maintained.
The official inauguration was attended by a number of dignitaries and individuals. It was obvious that the local community values the system and appreciates the collaboration all the groups involved in the construction.
After the inauguration we were invited to a special presentation from the students. This was probably the most impressive part. All 1500 students and teachers were in attendance. The kindergarten children amazed us with a dance routine, there was a second native dance performed by the high school students as well as a welcoming concert from a musical group. The happiness and gratitude expressed by the students was almost overwhelming and very emotional.
Everyone involved in building this project should know that it is deeply appreciated by the people of Santa Clotilde.