Ampliación Nueva Lucha Water Project – Mexico

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

This project has been completed.  To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.

The outskirts of the Municipality of Motozintla, Chiapas, Mexico

Problem Addressed
Just on the leeside of the Continental Divide, above the city of Motozintla, is the settlement of Buenos Aires. The homes are located a narrow ridge next to the highway that passed up to the Continental Divide before it drops steeply down to the coast. Typical of small communities in this mountainous region, there are few opportunities to work there. Children don’t receive more than a 6th-grade education since it is too far for them to travel daily to Motozintla to continue their studies.

With no more land available for families to build homes, people have migrated from Buenos Aires a few kilometers down the mountain closer to Motozintla. They have purchased land and slowly built homes as their very modest resources allowed. Aside from the availability of plots of land on which to build, they wanted to be closer to the city where they can work and their children can be enrolled in middle schools and high school.

For the families that have made this move, this all seemed like a good plan except for one important problem; there is no water. Because the homes are located on the edge of the City of Motozintla, most are out of reach of the municipal water system. For those few households that do have access to the city- administered water it usually only comes once a month for a couple of hours supplying so little water that they cannot rely on it. As a result of the lack of water, their homes are locked up while they have to remain in Buenos Aires with their families of origin or pay rent in Motozintla.

Fortunately, two years ago the members of the Nueva Lucha Water Association secured the rights to a beautiful spring and creek within the boundaries of the Buenos Aires Ejido, the local peasant government. They have hoped to build their water system but the cost has simply been beyond their reach. Two municipal administrations have not responded to their requests for help.

Description of life for the members of the water association: The vast Sierra Madre is an impoverished region where there are few opportunities for people to raise their standard of living. Several families were only able to build their houses because the men succeeded in finding work as undocumented laborers in the United States, allowing them to save enough money to pay for construction.

Among the people who belong to the Nueva Lucha Water Association are a couple of masons who work as builders when jobs are available, a family that sells fruit on market days and others who work as day laborers in the Motozintla. Others rely on raising corn and beans to feed their families. There are households where middle aged people are caring for frail elderly parents and their own children. Two households are headed by single mothers.

Project Description
This project is to build a water system to provide for the needs of the people of Ampliación Nueva Lucha.

The plan is to bring the water down the mountainside to a distribution tank using 3.5 kilometers of 1 ½ inch hose. Each family will install their individual half inch hose to the tank to carry water to their property. All of the labor for this project will be provided by the men of the water association working together under the direction of the skilled masons among them. Sexto Sol has been providing technical assistance throughout the planning phase and will continue to do so until completion.

Sections of hose will be connected with factory made connectors and fastened at each end with metal clamps that will be screwed tight. In this manner the joints will be secured to better withstand the water pressure and to protect it from vandals. The hose will be buried several inches deep in the soil to protect it from sun damage and animals. This will prolong the life of the system which is expected to work well for decades.

The water source is a crystalline spring that flows out of a small cave right next to a perennial creek. The men will build a large catchment dam with the capacity to pool both sources of water. As part of the design, we will create a means of diverting the water from the creek during the rainy season so that it cannot enter the dam when it is muddied by hard rains. At that time of year, the clean spring flowing from the cave will provide enough water for everyone’s needs. This barrier will be removed once the rains have stopped so that the creek, which will be clear at that time of year, will also feed into the catchment dam, assuring that there will be enough water even during the low flow months. To achieve this, a 4 meter wide tank will be built of rock available on site and reinforced with cement and rebar.

The men will build the distribution tank at the end of the water line on the property of one of the members of the water association. A person will be designated to distribute the water among members according to the plan that they arrive at by consensus.

Project Impact
There are 22 households with a total of 108 people who will benefit from this project. The water supplied from this water system will be adequate for household use and will make it possible for them to maintain fruit trees and small gardens and raise chickens. A small Catholic church will also be supplied with water from this project.

In addition, the members of the water committee have offered to provide water for the installations at the Sexto Sol Center in support of the tree nursery that will be established to grow seedling trees for reforestation. That effort aims to create more vegetation in the area in order to recharge groundwater to feed dormant springs. The Nueva Lucha Water Committee and both the Ejidos of Buenos Aires and Benito Juarez have also agreed to collaborate to support that reforestation effort.

Project Administration
The project to build the water system for Nuevo Lucha Water Association will be administered by Tamara Brennan, Ph.D., of The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action, an award-winning non-profit that has had a permanent presence in the region since 1997.

This project will be part of the ongoing Sierra Madre Water Program – Mexico & Guatemala, a comprehensive collaboration between Sexto Sol, Water Charity, and the National Peace Corps Association. The program aims to improve access to water in the underserved and impoverished settlements in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas region of Mexico, spanning the border with Guatemala. The program has already brought water to more than 10,000 people.

Monitoring and Maintenance
The members of the Water Association are well organized and committed to doing all that it will take to build the water system and to keep it maintained over the coming years. The people take turns serving as leaders of the association by the consent of the members. These elected leaders direct the heads of each household to collaborate to maintain the system. Should any problems arise in the future, the members would share the costs of any needed repairs.

Project Funding
$0 – This project has been funded through the generosity of Michael and Carla Boyle, of Foster, WV.