2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 250-13
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM


CAMPANA, Michael E., College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 CEOAS Administration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331, Michael.Campana@oregonstate.edu

Many rural communities in the rugged Sierra de Omoa of northwestern Honduras have been without reliable, safe potable water supplies for their entire existence. The reasons for this are generally twofold: the region is: 1) rugged and difficult to access; and 2) sparsely populated whose people have little political power. Few politicians and agencies find it worth their while to help the residents; NGOs find the rugged topography and limited access challenging with a high risk of project failure.

The author has worked in the area since 2001 assisting Hondureños Rolando López, Alex del Cid Vásquez, and local villagers construct five community water systems in the Municipio de Omoa. University of New Mexico students worked on these projects from 2001 - 2005. Trip descriptions can be found in Water Resources IMPACT (http://bit.ly/9ColgZ) and the Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education (http://is.gd/XgmI38).

More recently, the Ann Campana Judge Foundation (ACJF) has partnered with Omoa and its mayor, Prof. Ricardo Alvarado, to bring potable water to several communities: Brisas del Rio Cuyamel, Los Mejias and Las Palmas. Simple gravity flow systems are constructed using a small dam and reservoir, ferroconcrete tank with a chlorinator, and PVC and/or GI (galvanized iron) piping to provide each residence with a tap. Water is to be used for household use only; irrigation using project water is proscribed.

Six more Omoa villages have been identified as potential candidates for potable water systems. Each village must request a system and exhibit strong support for same; no village is forced to accept a water system nor will a village receive one without overwhelming community support. Before a project is initiated, the community is organized - a junta de agua(water committee) is formed with responsibilities identified. Then SANAA, the Honduran government agency responsible for rural water supply, must approve each project and agree to provide support after the project’s completion.

The partnership provides benefits beyond potable water. For example, road maintenance for equipment/material transportation improves transportation and commerce in general. As a result of this successful partnership, the much-larger Municipio de Choloma has partnered with the ACJF to construct village water systems.

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