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From the Pantanal June 8, 2011

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BSF before paint job

BSF before we added bird paint.

We have an update!  Julie and Ethan have verified that we have clean water at PCER!

“…the biosand water filter (BSF) is producing drinkable water! Ethan and I have been drinking the BSF’s water for the past four days and our bodies have certified the water as potable. ” – PCER blog

Check out the hole blog entry for yourself at: http://sites.google.com/site/pantanalcer/in-the-news


Animal Lists May 25, 2011

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We’ve been really lucky this trip to come down in a very active time for animals.  Last year, we were here during a time when the water level was much lower.  Because of this, it seemed as though many animals concentrated along and around the river area (40km away from the site.)  This year the water is still high, giving many animal water highways to maneuver throughout a larger landscape.  Below is a partial list of the animals we have been lucky to see:

  • Jaguar
  • Giant River Otters
  • Neotropical Otter
  • Ocelot
  • Pantanal Horse (only horse in the world that can feed with its head underwater)
  • Caiman
  • Many small snakes
  • Caiman Lizards
  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • Jaburu
  • Toco Toucan
  • Snail Kite
  • Piranha
  • Capybara
  • Various Vultures
  • Soldier Ants
  • Various Ducks
  • More birds than I can remember the names for.

Pantanal May 25, 2011

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Hello from pocone!

We’ve come back from the wilderness of the Pantanal for a day to gather more materials and make contact with the outside world. It’s been a crazy few weeks since we (Cory, Greg, Julie, Ethan and I (Micaela)) arrived in Brazil. Once we (finally) made it to the work site we buckled down to get the wooden mold built for the BSF. On site we have settled into an easy routine, waking up around 7:30 am getting breakfast in the lodge kitchen, working until 1230 when we break for lunch, after lunch we usually go for a swim, jumping off the bridge that is just up the road, the we work again until 5ish, shower and head over for dinner. We’ve been going to bed between 9 and 10 most nights which I find half wonderful and half ridiculous at first we told ourselves it was just to make up for finals week or because of the long days of travel, but now I think we’ve all accepted the early bedtime along with the rhythm of the pantanal.

As for the work itself, we adapted a design by CAWST for a metal filter mold into wood after determining that a metal mold wouldn’t really be feasible here. In the interest of sustainability and cost effectiveness, we used left over wood from the construction of the school, which after sitting out in a field for the better part of a year was not in the greatest shape. We got the mold built without any major problems, and attached frames to the sieves to start the long sifting process. After about 4 days of preparation poured the cement, again without any real issues, and left it to start curing over night. The next day, however, when we tried to remove the interior mold we found it to be inextractable. Several hours and several broken chunks of BSF found us resorting to matches and a squirty bottle of diesel to get it out. As one of my professors in the art school likes to say, ‘you must learn to kill your babies’, though we had worked long and hard on that first mold, we had to recognize its failure, and accept it for what we learned from the process of making it. The next morning, we pieced together a second mold from the scraps of our first, creating a collapsable interior as opposed to the original which screwed into place. This mold too came along with some speed bumps, but here we are, the concrete is cured, the interior is cleaned, the sand and gravel are washed, sifted and ready. When we arrive back at the lodge, we will fill it and begin the testing process.

We’ve also been helping Ethan and Julie prepare the school to open in July, painting the walls and laying bricks to partition the space into a: classroom, library, clinic, and lab space. We have our highs and lows for productivity, but overall we’ve been working pretty steadily. Hard to believe there’s only one week left!

Happy Early Mother’s Day! May 7, 2011

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From the whole team, a very happy Mother’s Day to all!

Happy Mom Day!

Cuiaba e Pocone! May 5, 2011

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[May 5th]

Bom Dia, da casa de Eduardo!

Eduardo's House Cuiaba

Eduardo, the owner of the Jaguar Ecological Reserve, picked us up earlier this afternoon from the Ciuaba Airport and treated us to a wonderful lunch of rice and beans at his house.  We’re hitting the ground running, with big talks of water towers, wells, pumps, and filters already being thrown about in Portuguese and English.  We are now waiting on a taxi to come and pick us up to take us to Pocone, a city of about 20,000 people on the northern edge of the Pantanal.


[May 6th]

Today in Pocone we collected information and estimates on our materials and supplies for the water system.  We went to a few construction stores and asked about prices and materials.  Nothing was bought today.  Once Ethan comes down with the newly bought bus tomorrow, we will buy our materials and make our way down to the Eco Lodge tomorrow!


Bom Dia de Miami May 4, 2011

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Hello All!

We – Cory, Ethan, Greg, Julie, and Micaela – have arrived safely into the Miami airport.  We arrived around noontime, and quickly got to entertaining ourselves for the 8 hour layover before our flight to Sao Paulo by using technology: (see picture below.)

Quick update:  We’ve finished our testing stateside and it shows that all of our designs are operating with very similar efficiencies.  We thereforewill implement the design that will be most easily built and maintained with local materials upon the re-inspection of the site when we get down there.

As well, I uploaded the 2011 Multidisciplinary Report detailing our trip for the purpose of informing the reader of our rough plans and agenda while in Brazil.

The latest schedule for us upon arrival (Which will be approximately 2pm Eastern time,) is for Cory, Micaela, Greg, and Julie to head down to Pocone while Ethan finds us an automobile that we will use to bus children to school in Cuiaba.

Until then,

Water Systems Team


Visit to Pocone July 5, 2010

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Greetings from Pocone, Brazil!

In what will most likely be our last trip away from the work site, we are currently in the closest town to the lodge that we are staying at in the Pantanal – about a three hour drive.

There have been many advances in the project, and a few set backs since our last update. 

First, a positive:  All of our luggage is now accounted for.! After a week of waiting, we were finally able to get out the books and the materials that we needed to start our projects (all of which were convenietly located in Greg’s bag which was lost by Delta.)  Look for more details on the D-B-T page.

Negative: Following the crushing defeats (respectively) at the hands of Ghana and Netherlands, we no longer have any clear cut ties to any of the teams still in the World Cup.  Cory is backing Spain, while Greg is putting his money on the Germany. Regardless of who wins we’re hoping for three more good games and lots of goals.  More on everything that isn’t the build (including monkeys!) on our community page.

Be sure to check out the project’s blog, as well as the architect’s (links convienently located to the left!)

-Cory and Greg

Settling in June 21, 2010

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Greg and I have arrived safely in Cuiaba and are getting acquainted with our surroundings in the Pantanal while waiting for Greg´s bags (with the water quality tests and sand sieves) to arrive so we can really get to work!  Today we are going to buy the other materials we need to build the water filter.  We are also comparing prices and energy demands of different water pumps that will be powered from the solar batteries at the school.

Currently water is being transported across the street from the Jaguar Ecological Reserve to a house, which is where the school will be built.  We tested the flow rate yesterday and compared it to theoretical values (look for data to be uploaded next time).  There is an old well dug next to the house that has not been used for five years, and at this point we are planning to reopen it and pump water from it up into a 5000L storage tank above the school.  We are also looking into modifying a hand pump to transport water up to the storage tank when the kids spin a merry-go-round.  We have lots to think about, but things should all start coming together in the next week!

Yesterday we went to Tito´s house to watch the Brazil vs. Cote D´Ivoire World Cup match with the GIEU group.  Tons of fun!  Look for pictures to be uploaded soon.  Back the lodge we have been fortunate to enjoy the delicious meals of Milton and the kindness of everyone at the Jaguar Ecological Reserve.  Truly an amazing place.  That´s all for now.  Another update will be coming soon. 


Waiting #2… June 2, 2010

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Hello and Welcome!

These are exciting times for the team.  We are officially in the same month of the start of the project, and as of last friday the water system’s team is now officially on two different continents!  As I write this – safely perched in my house firmly situated in Michigan – Cory is somewhere between Machu Pichu, Peru and  Cuiaba, Brazil.  Soon enough I’ll be flying down to Cuiaba where we will meet up and continue our travels into the Pantanal together.

I have done just about all that I can do without being onsite, and now it’s just a waiting game until we get on the ground!  The pre-trip report is finished (look for it on the site soon,) and I’m about halfway through purchasing the items we won’t be able to find too easily in Brazil.

’til next time,

Greg Ewing