Our third day in El Salvador was full of exploration. We started our morning with an exciting ride to El Porvenir. Our friend Felipe picked us up in his bright red pick up truck. Our group has worked with Felipe since the beginning of the El Porvenir project (about 3 years). Felipe is from the neighboring town, called Zaragoza. He owns land in El Porvenir, so he is a very active community member and he is always willing to help us out in El Porvenir. We always appreciate the rides he gives to and from El Porvenir. Felipe dropped us off by his property in El Porvenir, and then he walked with us to the spring box. We carried all of our equipment down to the spring box to collect some important data for our assessment. First we observed the areas surrounding the existing spring box where water was flowing out from the land. Our goal was to find the source of these outflows and to measure the flow rate of each outflow.
The first outflow we observed was approximately 6 feet to the left of the spring box (upstream), and located at the same elevation as the bottom of the spring box. Felipe, Ariel, and Jake cleared out the debris surrounding the outflow and exposed a hole in the rock from which water was steadily flowing. We believe this is another outflow of the same aquifer, not a leak in the spring box. This observation is very promising because it is a potential way to capture more water for the community! Felipe helped us create a wall around the outflow to collect the water. Then Ariel and Jake measured the flow rate of the outflow.
The second outflow we observed was directly behind the spring box, located near the back right corner (downstream). In this area, water was trickling out of a hole in the land. Luke cleared out excess debris in the area and discovered that the flow from this hole increased. Then, Luke blocked the hole with rock and clay and discovered that water was still flowing from the land, but from a different hole. The source of this new outflow was from a leak in the spring box. There are multiple pathways for water to escape from the earth; the water flows out of whichever path requires less energy. Either way water is escaping from the spring box and there is, again, another potential to capture more water for the community!!
The third outflow we observed was uphill and to the right (downstream) of the spring box, near the base of the tree that exists above the spring box on the border between El Porvenir and a farming community called Tula. We noticed that the steep rock behind the spring box near the base of the tree was saturated with water. To find the source of this saturation, Roxanne and Rob took pick axes to the rock. After a while of picking through the rock, more water began to flow out of the rock but the flow was not significant. Until we have more advanced tools and some expert advice, we will wait to explore this site as a potential to collect more water for the community.
In the afternoon, Luke took the “new guys” (Rob, Jesse, Ariel) through the entire community to meet more of the people of Porvenir. The “old timers” (Jake and Roxanne) stayed by the spring box to continue studying the land around the spring box and measuring the flow rate of the leak in the spring box and the refill rate of the spring box. Two hours went by before we saw Luke, Rob, Jesse, and Ariel returned to the river with Don Chepe and Jesus Antonio, two leaders of El Porvenir. They were exhausted and sweating from the heat and sun of a typical El Salvadoran afternoon. The group was exclaiming of their survivor-like adventure through an old aqueduct in the community. They walked along the San Antonio River and scaled the wall of the aqueduct, which no longer holds or transfers water for the community. The group cautiously walked along the mountainside, prepared with their hiking boots, while Jesus Antonio climbed effortlessly in his worn-in flip flops ( he even saved Ariel from tripping multiple times, thank you Jesus Antonio!).
Back at the spring box we shared a few laughs about the groups adventures. Shortly after their return, we were greeted by Mike, from Epilogos, and a rotary club from New Hampshire. The club had ventured down to Porvenir to see our project. We presented our goals, our progress, and our challenges. A few engineers from the rotary club were particularly interested in the engineering of the project and we discussed future solutions with them. We introduced the rotary club to Don Chepe and Jesus Antonio. We were excited to meet the members of the club and we look forward to engaging in more discussion with them over the next two weeks. We also want to wish them good luck on their house building project in Palomar!
By the end of the day we were exhausted. After a good recap and documentation session back in San Jose Villanueva, we were ready for bed. But not without a run to the pupuseria next door! Ariel and Roxanne were invited to make some pupusas with the women at the restaurant. Ariel made a massive pupusa, twice the size of the others. The owner of the stand called it a “crazy pupusa”, but she said she would still hire us. We enjoyed our late night pupusa snack with a viewing of the X – Men at the volunteer house. After being inspired by Professor X we decided if we could have one super mutation it would be to provide clean water at our finger tips.
What would your super mutation be??
The Travel Team