From left: Peinado, Potuhera, Haerr and Mulder worked to install the solar-powered distribution system. | Courtesy Photo

Four construction management students and two professors spent their winter break installing a pipe distribution system to deliver clean water to a community in Ecuador.

Parker Haerr, David Mulder, Tyler Peinado and Dhakshan Potuhera partnered with Reach Beyond, a Christian organization that develops areas in need of clean water and healthcare. The four students joined professor Lonny Simonian and lecturer Paul Redden in Santa Rosa, Ecuador last December to finish a solar-powered clean water distribution system.

Santa Rosa is a small farming village in the Amazon, away from many western amenities. Its main water source is the Pastaza River, which is contaminated by sewage water.

Before the construction management students went to Santa Rosa, the villagers’ only clean source of water was a spring dug up by the government. Natives would collect water at the spring and bring them back to their families, bucket by bucket.

By installing pumps and solar panels to a pipe distribution system already built by Reach Beyond, the students were able to connect the water storage tanks to the system.

“From what we did, we were able to get the water to (the villagers’) houses,” Potuhera said. “So now they don’t have to take a bucket and go all the way (to the spring), it was really amazing.”

Potuhera said he and his team had a great experience and learned many things during the project.

“It was such a big culture shock,” Potuhera said. “The way they did things was completely different and it’s a different, new perspective for us. It was like a reality check. We have all these comfortable things, we have toilets everywhere we go, we have clean water … (It) was an amazing cultural experience. Being in the jungle, it brought the team together.”

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) funded the project.

Correction: A previous version of this article identified Santa Rosa as a fishing village, not a farming village. It also identified Potuhera as a native Ecuadorian in the picture.

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