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  • Writer's pictureBruce Clemens

You can't afford to miss this opportunity of your lifetime

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

2023 Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Course in Guatemala

Prerequisites: Permission of instructors

Instructor: Bruce Clemens, Ph.D., PE -, (864)423-5559

Co-Instructor: Ron Skalko,, (678)923-6005; Cornell Co-Instructor: TBD

Invited guest presenters: Dr. Paul Wise, the Richard E. Behrman Professor of Child Health and Society and Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy at Stanford University; Ing. Mateo Racancoj; Director of Agua del Pueblo, Joe Wakely, Re-CLA shepherd of many global, district, and club to club grants; Dr. Todd Thompson, former president, Northfield MN Rotary club; and John Barrie, founder, Mayan Power and Light


Brief description: The course includes hands-on learning with non-profit engineering organizations working in environmental, social, and economic development. We will investigate design issues, construction oversight, management control of organizations, and effective community development techniques. We will select up to 12 students for the course. Here is the application:

Expanded Description: Participants will meet via teleconference before travel to learn about the sponsors and hosts and to begin to form a tightly-knit team. We have kept the number of participants to 12 to be able to tailor the course to the desire of the participants. That is, this syllabus is just one option at this time. We can revise course content and travel location based on participant preferences. Evenings and weekends will include visits to local attractions such as local markets and wildlife refuges.

The course is based on Bill Copacino’s (Cornell, Industrial Engineering, 1972) work in Guatemala. Billy passed away

in 2012. We will explore global sustainability from an engineering perspective. The course will allow students to understand how rural Guatemalans live. The course will enhance the ability of students to comprehend, analyze, and grasp different aspects of engineering sustainability, particularly regarding rural potable water and sanitation.

The students will also be able to share classes with students from San Carlos University. San Carlos is Guatemalan’s only public university with over 100,000 students and was founded in 1676. It is the fourth oldest university in the western hemisphere. Former students prepared the video at the bottom of the first page about a former course.



Students will send The People’s Consultants aka Agua del Pueblo USA (tPC) a $500 refundable deposit on or before February 15th, 2023. If the course is canceled, the $500 will be returned. The balance of the $2,500 will be due three months before the course begins, on April 23. tPC is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. Depending on the final costs of the course, a portion of the $2,500 will be a donation and tax deductible for US federal taxes. The $2,500 (based on double occupancy) includes all in-country travel, room, board, recreational, and educational expenses. The $2,500 does not include international airfare. It is possible that the Einhorn Center could provide up to $1,000 for a number of Cornell students. That is, the full tuition for those students would be $1,500 plus international airfare.

After arrival in-country, we will board a bus for an approximate six-hour trip to the AdP’s headquarters in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. Students must arrange air travel to arrive at the Guatemala City International Airport at the same time as the instructors to make sure that we keep our in-country travel at night to a minimum. We will stay two to three days in Xela and the majority of the course will take place in San Lucas Toliman, Solola, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

One possible project will be to systematize a program to use ‘mWater’ ( in AdP projects. Another option is to work with AdP to complete Community Assessments as required by Rotary (

We are considering living in the communities where AdP has completed a water project. One such community is Sanik-Ya and Chitulul in San Lucas Toliman. AdP, Furman University, and Rotary helped these two communities construct their water supply and sanitation system. Donations from California Rotary Cubs paid for the installation of a SunSpring water treatment system. The SunSpring is a state-of-the-art .02 micron water filter. However, as of 2022, no chlorination system is installed. Student health and safety are paramount. The students will make sure the chlorination is in place and will test for residual chlorine using Color Wheel Test Kits in the homes in which they will live.

We are also considering spending three days doing a topographic survey of a community that has requested AdP’s help. We’d work in the field with AdP engineers. Students would be able to learn important topographic skills. We’d return to spend two or three days in the AdP office to do the engineering design of the system.


Here is some background reading that will help us hit the ground running. We will only have two packed-full weeks in-country. I have huge expectations. One of my goals will be to help you design a community potable water and sanitation system. Previous students at James Madison, Western New England, and Furman Universities have completed similar designs and returned to campus to share their experiences, and helped raise funds to complete the project. I expect even more from my alma mater😎.

  • Chipman, C., V. Strait, and B Clemens, 2014 “Who Cares About the Community? Agua del Pueblo as a case study for water-related non-profit work”: American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities 4(6): 319-334.

  • Clemens, B. and Tom Douglas 2012. “To what degree can potable water foster international economic develop

ment? What role does health play? Organization Management Journal. 9(2): 83-89. DOI:10.1080/15416518.2012.687988

  • Clemens, B, Andrew Karp & Maria Papadakis. 2002. The People’s Water: Technology Transfer and Community Empowerment in Guatemala. In De Laet, Research in Science and Technology Studies. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: (13) 103-125.

  • Karp, A.; Cabrera, S.; and Cabrera, L., 1999, Water as the Source of Community Empowerment, Waterlines magazine.

  • Sauer, M. S Smith and B Clemens 2012 “Does it pay to invest in potable water in the developing world: Relationships between external financing and economic development in sustainable community-run integrated projects” Journal of International Development Article: first published online: 27 SEP: DOI: 10.1002/jid.2880


sacres de la selva. English: Massacres in the jungle: Ixcán, Guatemala, 1975-1982 / Ricardo Falla; translated by Julia Howland. Boulder: Westview Press.

  • Kirkpatrick, Jeanne J. 1979. Dictatorships & Double Standards -

  • Kirkpatrick, Jeanne J. 2007. Making war to keep the peace. New York: HC.

  • Melville, Thomas R. 2005. Through a Glass Darkly: The US Holocaust in Central America. Xlibris Corporation: USA.

  • Schlesinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. 1982. Bitter fruit: the untold story of the American coup in Guatemala, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

  • Garrard-Burnett, Virginia, 2010. Terror in the land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efraín Ríos Montt, 1982-1983. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press

  • Grandin, Greg, 2004. The last colonial massacre: Latin America in the Cold War / Greg Grandin. Chicago: University of Chicago

The Instructor: Dr. Bruce Clemens co-founded Agua del Pueblo in 1972. He has worked in water supply and sanitation around the world for more than 50 years. He has a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell; a Masters's in Economic Development from Harvard, and a PhD. in Business Strategy from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He has served as an assistant and associate professor at James Madison, Western New England, and Furman Universities. He has led similar courses with all three universities. Dr. Clemens is a member of the Rotary cadre and served on the committee that updated global grant requirements for WASH projects. He is currently leading the collaboration between the People’s Consultants, Agua del Pueblo, Rotary Clubs in Minnesota, California, and Panajachel, Guatemala with Rotary International to provide potable water and sanitation to all the 400,000 residents of the Lake Atitlan watershed.


As is typical in a developing world setting, ‘stuff happens’… Specific details of the course may be refined during our stay in Guatemala. Please look at this approach to life as a learning opportunity:-).

Contact Bruce Clemens if you have any questions or concerns, or if he can help in any way - (preferred) or (864)423-5559. This will be an experience you will not soon forget.

*You can deposit the money through the People’s Consultants website: You can also write a check made out to The People’s Consultants and mailed to Andy Karp, Treasurer, The

People’s Consultants, 5202 Pommeroy Drive, Fairfax VA 22032. If the course is canceled, the People’s Consultants (tPC) will refund the complete deposit and tuition.

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