Las Cruces Water Distribution 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.

Las Cruces, Municipio Benito Juarez, Chiapas, Mexico

Community Description
Las Cruces is a settlement at the crossroads of the state highway and the only paved road that provides access to the hundreds of small villages deep in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Located on a narrow ridge on the Continental Divide, on a clear day you can see south all the way to the mangrove forests on the Pacific Coast, and, the Motozintla river valley to the northeast.

Las Cruces is a poor community where people survive by taking advantage of the traffic that passes through. There are a couple of stores that sell snacks and sodas, restaurants, and a couple of fruit stands. A cybercafé provides services to school children from the surrounding area.

Most families have plots of land nearby where they produce subsistence crops like corn, and the large chilacayote squash they sell in the late fall by the side of the road. A few families produce coffee on small plots. The largest house in the community belongs to a man who spent a decade in the U.S. driving heavy machinery to earn the money to build it. Others make a living driving taxis or as day laborers in Motozintla, the nearby town.

Problem Addressed
When the original water system was built decades ago, there were 35 families in the community. Today the population has nearly doubled with 65 households. While it is likely that in the future, we will explore the possibility of increasing the capacity of their water system, at present the most urgent need is to expand the distribution system so that the water reaches all the homes. Seventeen families, over 100 people, have been living without water for a very long time since the current system does not reach them. Because of their poverty, these families have not been able to obtain the materials needed to expand the old system to include a new water line that would end their extreme hardship.

To survive these people have had to walk to other homes far down steep roads to ask for buckets of water for all their household chores. The rainy season usually provides relief since they can collect rainwater but in recent years, drought conditions have meant long dry periods. People are left imploring an indifferent and cloudless sky to have pity and provide rain.

The people complain that because they have no choice, they have to bother people in outlying homes to ask for water, which is often given begrudgingly. A woman who is too ill to carry water has found it necessary to pay for water to be delivered. The amount that is delivered this way only gets a family through a few days until they more are needed. She is only able to pay for it because her son is in the United States working to send money home. Nevertheless, buying water this way is very expensive and not within reach for most.

Project Description
The project will involve perforating multiple sections of the highway to allow the men to install reinforced hose that will redistribute water to the homes on the edges of the community and to three schools.

A local engineer owns the equipment that can cleanly perforate the asphalt. He has generously offered to assist the community. The hose will be placed below the level of the street and then covered with a protective layer of cement.

Once this is completed, a system will be set up with heavy-duty valves to allow for appropriate management of the distribution of the water. The water committee has a designated “fontanero” who is in charge of distributing the water. He also makes sure that everyone is being careful to conserve the water so that it reaches all homes. It is strictly forbidden for anyone to allow their tank to overflow or otherwise wastewater.

Project Impact
The project will impact 17 households with a total of 107 persons. It will provide water to the kindergarten’s staff and 25 students; the primary school with 52 students and the telesecondária, the middle school where 90 students receive virtual instruction. All of these schools are on the edge of the community where the water does not reach.


Project Administration
The project to expand access to water for Las Cruces 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 is the part of the ongoing Sierra Madre Water Program, a comprehensive effort in collaboration with Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association that aims to improve water access in the underserved and impoverished Sierra Madre de Chiapas region of Mexico, spanning the border with Guatemala. The program has already brought water to more than 9,000 people.

Monitoring and Maintenance
The water committee has the responsibility of maintaining the water system. Since the hose will be protected by asphalt, we do not anticipate any need for repairs or maintenance. The house is guaranteed to last several decades by the supplier in Motozintla.

The families to benefit from this project have endured much hardship due to not having water available to them. There are no nearby rivers or creeks so they have had to bother others living far away for a little water at a time. This simple project could be accomplished quickly and will end this suffering.

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

Additional donations will be used for future projects in Mexico.