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State of the PCER water systems. May 25, 2011

Posted by pcerwatersystems in Design-Build-Test.

We arrived at the site about three weeks ago to many visible changes after having been offsite for – the most of our team – an entire year.  This post is dedicated to our observations of how the site has been maintained in the past year.

Potable Water

The largest of these changes was the PCER building having been built.  It has two bathrooms and a kitchen sink, all being serviced by the water tower on the lodge side of the street.  All of this water is pumped from the swamp adjacent to the lodge.  There is no filtration of any sort between the swamp and the tap.

Currently the lodge has a pump to the swamp and to an artesian well.  The swamp water shows concentrations of E. Coli.  The artesian well has highly ferrous water that well exceeds the EPA’s secondary standard of 0.3 mg/L.  This well was augured last November, but quickly abandoned because of this fact.

Eduardo (the lodge owner) is thinking of digging another well – this time with a depth of approximately 8 meters – as well as building a new water tower and holding tank.

There is a well hole on the PCER side of the street.  It is no longer a viable option as the school’s main water supply because when the water line receded last year it showed that this well had been used as a garbage hole.  When we arrived onsite, the well was piled up to about a meter below surface level full of trash.  The employees of the lodge – who live in a house on the PCER site – have been using this well as a trash burning pit.  There usually a trash fire three times a week in this well.

The swamp behind the PCER site – similar to last year – had oil and diesel leaching into it from the generator that is located on the edge of the swamp.

Waste Systems

The previous year we built a quasi septic/leach field.  Our qualitative observations leave us to believe that this system is performing to at least a minimum standard of sight and smell.

We also dug – but soon abandoned because of the high water table – a different hole that would have served as the septic/leach field of the unbuilt phase 2.  This hole was left unfilled and has subsequently been filled with plastics and other pieces of trash.


-We believe that all existing and future buildings that form the PCER and Jaguar Ecological Reserve should be serviced by one main water source.  We believe that this will increase ease of monitoring and allow for greater efficiencies for all.

-Because all of the existing and potential water sources are down stream of the point sources of pollution, we advise a thorough impact assessment of the pollutants on the ground and service water surrounding PCER and the lodge.

-All dumping and burning of trash into the old well should stop as soon as possible. (note: luckily for us there are a group of Grahams Scholars coming down June 5th to build a trash incinerator.)

-Digging a new well could possibly unnecessary.  BSFs filter out approximately 90% of iron in water. Our BSF that we are building for drinking water at PCER will be shown to Eduardo as a model.  Putting a BSF(s) in line with the pump from the artesian well may achieve the levels of filtration that would allow for the current well to be potable.



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