Agua Prieta Water System Project – Mexico

This project in the Sierra Madres of Chiapas has been COMPLETED!
Read about its conclusion below (or CLICK #Conclusion)

The project was made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

Agua Prieta, Chiapas, Mexico

Community Description
Agua Prieta is home to 685 people living in 140 households. The village is located on the warmer, coastal side of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. In the evening, the lights of the small city of Huixtla are visible from the coffee groves a short walk up the mountain from the settlement. The road is paved from the turnoff from the highway to about a kilometer from Agua Prieta.

People in the community do not have opportunities for adequate employment. Most families grow corn, beans, bananas and small gardens for their own use, and the women raise a few chickens. Some families grow coffee on a small scale as a cash crop but in recent years this has not provided income due to the roya pest that has decimated production in the region as temperatures continue to rise.

A few families have small storefronts or outdoor food stands that cater to people in the community or local travelers. Many families have grown children working in the factories in Tijuana who send money home to help maintain the rest of the family. The quality of life in this quiet community can be characterized by poverty, malnutrition, and lack of opportunities that is typical of the Sierra Madre region in Chiapas, Mexico.

Problem Addressed
Decades ago the government built a good water system that served what was a smaller population at the time. Two catastrophic hurricanes in 1998 caused irreparable damage to the steel pipe in sections. The people pieced sections of PVC pipe as best they could but Hurricane Stan in 2005 and the wear of time has caused it to break in so many places that are it unserviceable. They have tried to patch it with pieces of inner tubes from old tires. There are three schools in the community that provide K-middle school education. There is not enough water to meet the needs of the students and teachers.

The village is far from the municipality of Motozintla to which it belongs. Though they have tried to obtain assistance to repair their system from the city for years, with recent announcements of drastic cuts to public funding coming from the Federal government, the people consider their only hope to be to request assistance from The Sexto Sol Center and Water Charity to repair and upgrade damaged parts of the existing infrastructure in order to make it serviceable after so many years.

Status of existing holding tanks and dam
The water system draws from two sources both of which reliably flow through the dry season. The source that is higher up the slope collects water from a stream which then flows into the catchment dam along with water from a spring that is the second source. The water then flows downhill to a large stone and concrete tank that is 5 by 6 meters in size, large enough to hold a good volume of water. All three structures are cracked and no longer hold the water. Water from that large tank flows downslope to a distribution tank that is still in good condition.

Project Description
This project is to rebuild the water system in Agua Prieta.

To make the system serviceable will require repairing the inner surfaces of two tanks, fortifying the damaged catchment dam, and replacing the old PVC pipe with a 2-inch polyduct hose in three sections that connect the source to the tanks and carry it to the community.

The hose will be buried to prevent animals from damaging it and keeping it safe from damage from the sun or vandals. The polyduct hose is a superior material for this purpose and is sourced from a factory that manufactures it from 100% post-consumer waste plastic.

The community is well organized and people are committed to working together to complete the project. There are a couple of experienced masons in the community who will do the repairs on the structures while the others lay down the hose.

The Comité del Agua is the formal group charged with overseeing the distribution of the water to all households. They are hopeful that with this project, finally, the challenge of maintaining such a deteriorated system will be over. They are looking forward to working together to make the needed repairs so that all families will have reliable access to water for the first time in many years.

The Sexto Sol Center will organize logistics, and, provide the materials and technical assistance required that the community needs to make this much-needed improvement for the benefit of all.

Project Impact
685 people 
will benefit from the project.

Project Manager
Tamara Brennan, Ph.D.

Monitoring and Maintenance
The community will monitor the condition of the improvements, and promptly make repairs when required.

This project is part of the ongoing Sierra Madre Water Program, a comprehensive effort to improve water access in the underserved and impoverished Sierra Madre de Chiapas region of Mexico, spanning the border with Guatemala. These projects are designed and implemented by Water Charity and local NGO the Sexto Sol Center for community development. (This is the ninth project to be directed by Sexto Sol.)


Tamara Reports:

Finally, after so many years of difficulty, the water is now coming into the 140 homes in tropical Agua Prieta.

This spring was exceptionally dry in the region so the men decided to build a new catchment dam higher up in the forest than originally planned.  In the rainy season, storms fill arroyos with muddy water full of gravel and sand.  Years of severe tropical storms had damaged an open tank that had originally been constructed to gather the water and allow the gravel, rocks and sediment to settle before clearer water could be directed to the main holding tank.  The men had to build two new walls and resurface other parts so that the water would be contained in the structure.  Now water from the two sources flows through it.

Working together, the community laid down the water hose that replaced the sections of old PVC that had splintered from exposure to the elements.  The hose we provided is more resistant so it is expected to last for many years into the future.

The project was delayed when a coffee farmer unexpectedly asked for an unreasonable amount of money to allow the hose to pass through his coffee farm.  After some good problem solving dialog he finally acceded to the common good and allowed the water to pass through without charging the community.

All of this effort has created a viable system that will provide potable water for the over 600 residents for years to come.

The Commisariado Ejidal, Adolfo Perez, leader of the community sends his heartfelt thanks to all who made it possible for them to finally live a more dignified life by having water pipped into their homes. 

We thank Tamara and our crew of workers there in the Sierra Madres of Chiapas, Mexico for all the fine work we have done together in our Sierra Madre Water Program. 

This is important work for a community of people who are too often overlooked.

Fundraising Target

Funds raised in excess of the project amount will be allocated to other projects in the country.

Donations Collected to Date

Dollar Amount Needed
$0.00 – This project has been fully funded through the generosity of Michael and Carla Boyle of Nelsonville, OH, USA.

Any additional donations will go to future projects in Mexico and Guatemala.