Southeastern Section - 62nd Annual Meeting (20-21 March 2013)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


WAMPLER, Peter J., Geology Department, Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49401, REDISKE, Richard R., Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University, Muskegon, MI 49441 and MOLLA, Azizur R., Anthropology Department, Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49417,

Access to rural water in Haiti remains the lowest in the Western hemisphere, with only 51% of the population having access to improved drinking water sources compared to an average of 80% for rural areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. While most rural Haitians have access to water, sources are often contaminated with bacterial indicators of fecal contamination. Over four fifths of the surface rocks in Haiti are sedimentary in origin. Abundant limestone, which has been subjected to brittle deformation and dissolution by karst processes, provides aquifers for the storage and circulation of shallow groundwater.

Many shallow karst aquifers, springs, hand-dug wells, and virtually all surface water in rural Haiti, are subject to contamination and recontamination by fecal bacteria and other pathogens due to inadequate sanitation practices. Only 10% of rural Haitians have access to improved sanitation facilities. The lack of tree and soil cover, and the attenuation of contaminants that they provide, exacerbate water quality vulnerability. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have implemented pit toilet programs in an attempt to improve sanitation in rural Haiti. In order for these efforts to be successful at improving water quality they must be implemented in a way that is compatible with the vulnerable karst and fractured limestone aquifers on which many Haitians depend. Potential pit toilet locations should be evaluated prior to construction, and design modifications made, in order to protect vulnerable aquifers.