El Salvador Week 3

I can not believe it has already been three weeks! This week has been an exciting week doing field studies. We went to a community in La Libertad named of all things Los Angeles. It is a very poor community in which the government had installed solar toilets to each household. We met with the community leader who took us around to each household to inspect the solar toilets. The first household we went to had a family of eight. We inspected the inside of the toilet and all three chambers were cleaned. The head of the household stated that they had just cleaned it yesterday. There were two problems with this explanation. One, only the oldest vault should be cleaned, the other two remain to be treated by heat generated from the solar panel. The other problem was there was no evidence that the toilet was being used and as we found out later from the community leader it was not being use. The other toilets we visited with varying degrees of use. Some had the solar panel covered with plastic and sitting under large trees. it had to be explained to the head of the household that the panel needed have availability to the sun. A series of questions were asked of the household to get a better insight on the use and acceptance of these latrines. We also mapped the toilets in the community to be used for a later study.
After we finished with the study, we went to lunch at a place overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The food was great, fresh fish, rice and ice tea. Upon leaving the place, I fell down the stairs and bruised my knee. My cohorts made sure I saw the doctor at the Ministry who gave me something for pain and the inflammation. I found the ice was sufficient. It only amounted to a skinned knee. My dignity was hurt more than my body.
I will be making a hotel change at the end of next week to a hotel in a safer neighborhood. I cannot get used to going places, like the grocery store and Wendy’s and have armed guard, with rifles, standing at the entrance. I was told there are at least 4 or 5 murders in San Salvador per month mostly between gang members. I will feel much safer at the new hotel and will be able to walk around due to the heavily guarded tourist area.
Today one of the woman I work with is taking me to Santa Ana. another city in El Salvador, to look around and have dinner. It is the place that she grew up. I will be going with her family which include two young children. I miss my grandsons so it will be good to be around children.
Next week we will be finishing up the interviews with the solar latrines and also visit communities with compost latrines It will be interesting to see the difference in acceptance for the different types of ecological toilets. Until then……….

The Laboratory

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

The Lab is housed in Goodwill at the Waste Water Treatment Facility

The Lab is extremely compact and efficiently managed.  There is a great effort to conserve and reuse materials and get maximum mileage from limited resources while maintaining the highest integrity of testing.

Lab 1

Lab 2

Lab 3

And the folks here couldn’t be nicer.

North to Penville

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

As I’ve mentioned throughout my posts, there are no easy routes to anywhere in Dominica.  Perhaps one of the most difficult testing routes is the one that runs to the northeast of the island.  Where some of the standpipes and villages we visited on other routes were steep and in high elevations, almost every test site on this route requires grinding the low gears.

This was one of the few horizontal sites.

The northeastern Atlantic coast

High above the Prime Minister’s house in Vielle Case.

The expansion of water holding systems in the northeast

We’re not only in rain but in the clouds.  As we round the northern connecting road, parts are barely visible.  Steve and I had driven this route south from Portsmouth just the day before and I must say I am extremely grateful not to be driving in the low visibility we encountered today.

Roseau's Waste Water Treatment Plant

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

I was able to tour the waste water treatment plant today.  It is the only facility of its kind in all of Dominica.  The system serves 12,000 households in the greater Roseau area.  Prior to its construction, most of the raw sewerage went directly to Dominica’s waterways.


Laboratory and Waste Water Treatment Plant, Goodwill

Continue reading Roseau’s Waste Water Treatment Plant

Roseau's Drinking Water Treatment Plan

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

Roseau is the nation’s capital and its largest city.  It has one of the oldest existing systems and also the country’s newest drinking water treatment plant.

The new drinking water facility is located in the city’s heights at the existing holding tanks. Continue reading Roseau’s Drinking Water Treatment Plan

River Monitoring

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

On Tuesday and Thursday of this week I had two of most challenging days.  I accompanied Water Service Technician, Sherbert Riviere, into the field to observe the monitoring of rivers.

Hampstead River 3

This project is mostly DOWASCO but is working in conjunction with the Ministry of Forestry and DOMLEC (the Dominican power company).  The project is monitoring five (5) rivers.

Today’s first river was located in Hampstead on the northwest coast.  This made the third day in a row that I made the very long haul to that corner of the country and it is a grueling ride.  Continue reading River Monitoring

El Salvador Week Two

I got over my illness and am now back on track. I spent all week at the Ministry of Health, designing interview questions for our field work next week. I will not be conducting the interviews since my Spanish is limited, that will be done by Vivian and Catalina, my cohorts at the Ministry. Vivian is a wealth of information. She has worked in Sanitation in El Salvador for 22 years and have seen the successes and the failures of implementing ecological sanitation in rural El Salvador. She tells me that the Government installed many solar toilets in a rural community up in the mountains, but it was a failure because the community was not involved in the planning, construction or implement of the toilets. One of the criteria for success is involving the community as well as constant follow up and education for at least the first year. She also tells me that the treatment facilities here in San Salvador are not well kept. Most of the people in squatter communities use the river for the dumping ground for their waste.
Waste is a taboo word here since the goal is to reuse the urine and feces in agriculture.
Next Tuesday we go out in the field and see first hand how the existing ecological toilets are being maintained. Most of the ones we will see will be solar, perhaps a few compost. It should be interesting.
Until next week I bid you farewell

Singapore Week 4

Shannee Green

Where do I begin……. Well first I want to really tell everyone that  Singapore and the PUB are truly inspiring and innovative. I went on a total of 6 tours and 2 of the places I toured twice because I scheduled the tours before I knew the PUB was putting together a Internship Immersion program for two days. I guess the best way to break it all down is to explain each place separately.

at the Woodleigh Complex, looking at a slide of the water quality portion of the presentation. "FISH"

The First place on my Itinerary was the Woodleigh Complex. This site housed the PUB’s Customer service call center (PUB ONE),  which composed of 6 desk and 4 people, the water quality center, and the meter development and testing department. The customer service call center  was very efficient for running the water issues of  approximately 5million Singapore residents. In the water quality center a presentation was made on the water quality criteria and the quality measurement instruments, and by the way the water quality measurement instruments are FISH, real breathing fish. The rational behind it is, if  all the fish die, the water is contaminated. I have pictures. Also within the complex was the metering department and they build and test the meters being installed for household usage. Continue reading Singapore Week 4

Environmental Health Fair, Friday, June 17

Maryhelen Shuman-Groh

Environmental Health Fair

When I arrived at work on Friday morning I learned that we were participating in a environmental health fair sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment.  We took most of the lab equipment and transported it only a few blocks away to the Independence Pavilion where we set up displays on water quality testing.

Continue reading Environmental Health Fair, Friday, June 17

Sydney, Australia - Week 4 Down Under (6/12/11 - 6/18/11)

Camera Drought and Other Disorders

Joy Ingram

You may have noticed that photographs were strangely absent in the last post.  Continue reading Sydney, Australia – Week 4 Down Under (6/12/11 – 6/18/11)