Project 1: Ciudad España, Honduras – 2009-2013

Ciudad España is a community of approximately 10,000 people located 30 km northwest of the capital Tegucigalpa in the Francisco Morazán region of Honduras. After Hurricane Mitch destroyed local communities in 1998, the Spanish Red Cross built the city for the residents from the surrounding area. The construction also included a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) consisting of three lagoon stages.

There are over 1,000 homes comprising the 77 blocks and 10 districts that make up Ciudad España. Each district has representatives who gather at meetings to discuss health issues concerning the community, improving public services, finding a way to fight unemployment, etc. These community organizations are the foundation of Ciudad España’s functioning; they are responsible for the welfare of their citizens mostly because of the lack of help (zero industry incentives and zero developing aid) from Tegucigalpa’s government. Ciudad España’s lack of job opportunities is leading their young population to drop out of school and to drug use. Because there is no sustainable source of income in Ciudad España, with the closest sources of income being 40 km away with transportation costing 3⁄4 of the daily earnings, citizens are not able to pay their public service fees which is leading to dangerous health issues for the community.

Location

The project was located at Ciudad España, Honduras about 30 km from the city of Tegucigalpa.


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Assessment Trip #1

May 16 – 23, 2010

EWB-UMC made their first assessment trip in May of 2010. During this initial assessment the team built relationships with members of EWB-Honduras and the Water Board to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This crucial piece of documentation outlines the responsibilities of all parties involved in the project process.

An overall assessment of the community and the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was conducted. A community health and prioritization survey was completed in order to better understand the needs of the community. Water quality data and performance parameters were obtained during site visits to the WWTP. Additional site visits to the drinking water treatment facilities for both Ciudad España and an adjacent community were conducted.

Upon completion of the trip it was determined that the 3rd cell of the lagoon system was not operating as designed. Additionally, the WWTP was unable to meet Honduran effluent discharge standards. This was primarily due to a clogged biosand filter in the 3rd cell. The community, lacking the means to properly fix the filter, bypassed it entirely. This effectively eliminated any treatment originally provided by the 3rd cell by reducing the retention time to a matter of hours rather than days. The lack of established preventative maintenance measures undoubtedly contributed to the deterioration of the facility. Various safety concerns were also present.

 

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Assessment Trip #2

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March 21 – 28, 2011

EWB-UMC conducted a second assessment trip to obtain data on the facility’s treatment performance. However, due to unforeseen circumstances in which the lagoon’s water level was at subnormal levels, the team was unable to collect all the data. Nevertheless, the team was able to collect sludge depth measurements and determined the sludge depth to be of no immediate concern. An agreement with the community for a water quality analysis program was established as an addendum to the “Memorandum of Understanding” and was signed by members of the Water Board. Further observations were made and recommendations for improvements were presented to the Water Board. Personal protective equipment (PPE) was also delivered to the WWTP operators.

Assessment Trip #3

May 15 – 20, 2012

Due to unforeseen political circumstances in the community, the Water Board leaders, with whom the team had made agreements, were removed from their positions. On the third assessment trip, EWB-UMC had to reestablish the relationship with the new Water Board leadership in order to reinstitute previous agreements and ensure that future political changes would not affect the progress of future data collection and implementation.

Another focus of this trip was the delivery of a Spanish version of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manual draft, which provided the necessary trouble shooting tools for long-term operation. Thorough assessments were performed on the operation of the 3rd cell including water quality analysis, collection of structural measurements, determination of flow paths and flora diversity within the cell.

 

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Implementation Trip

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March 24 – 30, 2013

The design was approved in January of 2013 by EWB’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which consisted of several experienced engineering professionals. Upon TAC approval, EWB-UMC solidified travel arrangements and final preparations for the implementation trip. Over the course of five days the EWB-UMC team supervised onsite construction and implementation of the following project components:

    • A linear gravel berm across the length of the 3rd cell that bisects the region into two sub-units.
    • A stand pipe for depth control.
    • An emergent wetland for further water polishing.


The first sub-unit of the bisected 3rd cell consists of an emergent wetland and the second sub-unit acts as a buffer region with no foliage before the effluent structure. The implemented design accounts for local unskilled labor and cost-effective, locally obtainable materials.

Project implementation has been completed. All construction components were successfully executed and relations between the community and Water Board were strengthened. A final Spanish version of the O&M was delivered to the community after returning to the U.S. This manual details preventative maintenance measures, sampling protocols, safety recommendations, and additional facility related information.

Monitoring Phase

March 2013 – Present

As per current communication with the community, the facility is fully operational. The stand pipe is effective in increasing the water height and retention time, the gravel berm has remained in place, and the wetlands are mature and flourishing. EWB-UMC will remain in contact with the community to evaluate the effectiveness of the installations and to address any facility related concerns that may arise. The community has agreed to continue taking water quality samples and EWB-UMC will monitor these results.

Project Documents