EWB-USA is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life.www.ewb-rutgers.com
It’s a perfect marriage of helping people out and learning. You’re not only improving your own knowledge, you’re improving the quality of life for other people.
Evan Lutz, environmental engineering student and project lead
By Helen Taylor
Rutgers Students Help Kenyan Community Find Safe Drinking Water
For years, residents of a remote Kenyan village depended on unreliable sources of drinking water, until the Rutgers University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) was able to successfully drill a well that would provide more than enough water to meet the community’s needs.
The remote village of Kolunje in southwest Kenya is home to 7,200 residents who, for years, had no choice but to rely on intermittent streams and hand-dug wells for drinking water. These unprotected water sources often carry waterborne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid. And the women and children of the village were spending up to three hours a day collecting water, which hindered their ability to work and attend school.
In 2009, the Rutgers University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) partnered with Endevelu Community Development Services (ECODS) to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, early drilling efforts were unsuccessful, and in 2014, they resorted to building a rainwater catchment system, a solution that ultimately proved unsustainable.
Due to political unrest in the region, the team was unable to return to Kolunje in 2017. That made 2018 a make-or-break year. The team returned to give the borehole concept one final try. Engineering tests indicated a promising location, but as Evan Lutz, a senior in environmental engineering and a project lead, described it, “Finding water was definitely going to require some luck as well as technical skill.”
Drilling started with a 10-inch diameter borehole on the grounds of a local school. When they didn’t hit water at 90 meters, they started to worry. But on the third day, their luck changed. The drillers hit water at 117 meters. The engineering students and hydrogeologists completed development of the borehole to a depth of 137 meters and used an In-Situ level meter tape to test changing water levels during the 24-hour pump test.
Today, the well provides enough water to meet community needs nearly three times over. Plans include installation of an electric pump and possibly piping water to local residents. For the EWB-USA students the experience was both humbling and rewarding.
“It’s a perfect marriage of helping people out and learning,” says Lutz. “You’re not only improving your own knowledge, you’re improving the quality of life for other people.”
Read full blog story: Rutgers Students Help Bring Safe Drinking Water to Kenyan Community
Original case study written by Rachel Tracy