The USU chapter of Engineers Without Borders began working in 2009 with La Salitrera, Mexico. The small community faces many challenges including the need for a clean dependable water source. Students from USU have traveled to La Salitrera about once a year to improve these conditions. During these trips they have:
- Installed biosand filters for water filtration
- Analyzed the water distribution system
- Signed a memorandum of understanding with the local Water Committee
- Coordinated repairs for a water tank level indication system
- Educated locals on solar cooking & clean water
The Mexico Team returned to La Salitrera in Spring 2016 to assess the effectiveness of the biosand filters and to continue educating the town on proper use and maintenance of the filters.
To learn more about how Team Mexico has influenced the community of La Salitrera, check out their past projects.
Team Mexico was recently featured in an article on GlobalSpec. Check it out here.
Fall 2016 Meeting times
Team Mexico meets Tuesdays at 5:00 pm in ENGR204.
About La Salitrera
La Salitrera is a small agricultural community of about twenty families located in rural central Mexico northwest of Mexico City. Though small, it has a long history, dating back 200 years to when it was settled in connection with neighboring plantations. Most of the buildings in the community are constructed of brick and mortar.
La Salitrera has a few water sources, primarily supplied by a river that runs through the village. However, the river and the wells go dry during winter months. The main year round water source for the community is a 200 meter deep groundwater well two miles west of the town, managed by a Water Committee. La Salitrera usually receives water from the well every third day, but they have gone without water for extended periods of time.
Not only does La Salitrera lack a constant, clean water source, but there are also high levels of arsenic in their water. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limit for arsenic is 10 ppb, but water from nine different taps in the water distribution system show that La Salitrera uses water measured over 20 ppb.
The cisterns, in which the families store their water, are also contaminated with pathogens, making sanitation a concern as well. Many families don't have a latrine for personal use and have to use public latrines or designated spots in nearby fields. The community is interested in self-sustaining water filters to prevent illness due to arsenic and pathogens.