2015 Student Team Awards

EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter

Water Supply Project for Lucidia Mantilla, Nicaragua

Student Author: Adrian Bizzaro, Chapter President, (908) 397-8192 mobile phone, acb6@rice.edu

A group of young college students at the Rice University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders worked with ENACAL, the national water company of Nicaragua, and residents of Matagalpa, a department in northwestern portion of the country, to build a potable water system for some 450 residents of Lucidia Mantilla, an impoverished area in Matagalpa. The improvements included a pumping unit with an integrated control system that pumps water through some 400 meters of pipe to storage tanks. The water is then gravity fed directly to the taps of the Matagalpan residents.

Assessments started late in 2012, the Rice team visited the project last August to complete construction under the leadership of students Sid Mullick and Rico Marquez, and returned in January for final troubleshooting under the leadership of students Adrian Bizzaro and Rachel Sterling. The system is currently operational. The previous water system was not workable because Lucidia Mantilla, at the heart of Nicaragua's coffee-producing region, is at a higher elevation than the old system.

The students were responsible for designing the entire system. The system consists of a network of pipes that connects the storage tanks to each house in the community, so each family has in-house water access. The team was split up so each student had a role—project leaders, design managers, technical leads, communications team and logistics team. A 25-page drawing set and multiple reports were produced.

The team is advised by Tyler Nading, a process engineer in the drinking water treatment group of CH2M HILL in Houston, and Andrew Thiess, a civil engineer and owner of Overland Assessments in Houston. Both have complimentary appointments in Rice's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

About 80 percent of the project cost, which amounted to $40,000, was funded by the Rice EWB chapter. The rest came from Nicaragua, including ENACAL.

Upon completion of this project, the Rice chapter once again teamed up with ENACAL and the Matagalpan government to design a project that will service 1,200 people in an adjoining community. The Rice chapter has established a reputation for themselves in designing high quality water systems and will continue to provide aid in impoverished communities across the globe.

Click images to enlarge in separate window.

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Students from Rice University in Lucidia Mantilla, Nicaragua

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Construction of water storage tanks in Lucidia Mantilla, Nicaragua

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Water distribution system plumbing in Lucidia Mantilla, Nicaragua

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