A team from Engineers Without Borders (EWB), including seven UMKC engineering students worked during May 2011 with a small impoverished community on the outskirts of La Romana, Dominican Republic, to build a 24 foot tall water tower using shovels, a small gas mixer, and large stack of buckets. . The tower has a 2500 gallon tank that can be filled twice a day. It is estimated that the total capacity of the system is 5000 gallons a day. At maximum capacity the tower can provide potable drinking water to the church and school attended by about 400 children a day and also to about 50 nearby households, each with an average of 7 occupants.
Thanks to everyone’s efforts the project was completed on time and on budget, a great testament to the meticulous planning and steadfast determination of the team. The project started, according to EWB member Chad Brockmeyer, with a preliminary assessment trip in January 2011 “to assess the current situation and develop feasible solutions to address the lack of adequate clean water.” After returning from the assessment trip, the UMKC-EWB chapter of about 11 dedicated students from multiple engineering disciplines designed and planned the construction of water tower. They were aided by strong support and guidance from our Kansas City professional engineering community.
But, our UMKC SCE EWB team isn’t done yet. There is more work to be done in the community and another assessment trip is being planned for next year. It’s clear the team has shown that it only takes a handful of people to change the world, one small community at a time. This project is just the first in a line of many more to come. Financial support for the project was graciously provided by the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, EWB-USA, Black and Vetch, and individual contributions from the students and professionals who traveled to the Dominican Republic.