Members of DSEC/EWB visited Armenta on August 12, 2011. Upon arrival we visited Pastor Neptali and Armondo, who is President of the Armenta Water Council and Village Vice President. Scott’s relationship with both of these men came through a past bridge project that Scott had lead through his represented organization, EWB. Scott was aware of their need for an enhanced water distribution system back in 2009, when the pedestrian bridge was installed, but was delayed in responding due to other EWB activity. Since DSEC is gaining some good experience in assessing water project need and initiating collaborative efforts to address project implementation, Brad and Scott agreed that a DSEC visit to reassess the need and assist in kicking off the next EWB project for EWB-CPC’s ongoing five-year program with Armenta would be beneficial to everyone.
The village of Armenta is located northwest of the City of San Pedro Sula in the foothills of the mountains that border the west side of San Pedro Sula. This village has a water supply shortage that results in homes typically receiving water only one day a week. Water they receive comes from a mountain stream that flows through the village. A water catchment system is located 1 ½ miles upstream of Armenta in the mountains. A 3” diameter pipe connects the water catchment system to a 16,000 gallon storage tank in Armenta. This storage tank supplies water directly to one of the four neighborhoods of Armenta having 160 homes as well as to a second 12,000 gallon storage tank. This second storage tank supplies water to Armenta’s remaining three neighborhoods that have a total of 190 homes. In all the current water distribution system has to deliver water to 350 homes containing approximately 4000 people. The water quality is tested every three months by the medical center and always tests good for consumption.
Based on a 2006 report by the Public Health Center, the water shortage seems to be due to an undersized conveyance line from the water catchment system to the 16,000 gallon storage tank. The report recommends that an additional 4” pipe be added between the source and this tank to handle the demand.
Armondo explains existing water distribution system to Brad and Scott during August 2011 Site Visit However, Armando noted that the village has grown substantially in recent years and is expected to more than double to 9000 people by just 2013. The village population is then expected to level off as all available lots will be occupied and the neighborhood borders have nowhere to expand as they are bordering other communities and the mountains. This anticipated rapid growth means that a water distribution system upgrade is needed as soon as possible as the current water shortage will only get worse with every passing month.
From a previous interview Scott had with Armando, we know that Armando walks the water line every day inspecting and fixing water leaks and “bleeding” the line of air pockets. He controls all the valves that distribute water to the four neighborhoods. This includes at least one school and a medical clinic. Based on the expected population growth, Armando believes that in addition to the existing 3” line, the additional 4” line proposed by the 2006 report should really be a 6” line extending from the catchmentsystem to the 16,000 gallon tank. Apparently no water studies have been performed since the 2006 study. The itemized material cost for this project consisting primarily of 200, 20-foot long segments of metallic pipe and 200, 20-foot long segments of PVC pipe plus miscellaneous elbows, valves and connection material is approximately 1,000,000 L (~$54,000).
The village has been working to save money for the new line, but has very little savings at this time due to the 30 L (~$1.60) per family per month currently collected going mainly to cover maintenance costs. There is no government funding available for the project as the village chose to have SENA design and provide the original project at little to no cost a number of years ago. The agreement was that the village would get a water distribution system, but would then be responsible for all maintenance and upgrade expenses thereafter. At that time the village chose not to have the city of San Pedro Sula provide the system as the village’s required contribution would have been way too expensive. Now, San Pedro Sula is not willing to work on a system they did not install and SENA claims the village is on its own per their original agreement.
Armondo said they are eager for any assistance we can provide and noted that the village would provide all required labor to construct the project.