Word and Diagram Credit: Terrence Wakely
On Sunday 27 January 2019 Dr Todd Thompson of Northfield MN Rotary along with Dr Bruce Clemens and Terrence Wakely of the Panajachel Rotary club met with the community of Los Planes. We were accompanied by Lic Juanita Hernandez, director of Agua del Pueblo, and civil and environmental engineer Lic Carlos Simon. 27 members of the community attended this meeting including all members of COCODE and the water committee.
Los Planes is located north of the Pan American highway near km marker 155. Included in this preliminary assessment are the smaller villages of Paxub and Chuij ofaj kajkix. There are a total of 500 homes with a population of 3,250 inhabitants. The school served by the existing water system contains 372 students and a staff of 17.
Los Planes is administered by the municipality of Santa Lucía Utitlan and is located in the watershed of Lake Atitlan. The population consists of 65 percent subsistence farmers, 15 percent small business owners and 20 percent people that work outside the community.
The water and sanitation problem as described to us in this meeting:
The main supply of water for the 350 houses and school located in Los Planes proper is a spring fed gravity system. These 350 houses and school only receive water once every four days. Due to climate change the flow of the spring has diminished over the last several years. The 150 houses on the outskirts of Los Planes are not supplied with water and all water must be carried up to 3km. The work of hauling water falls disproportionately on women and young girls. This distracts them from more productive endeavors and in the case of young girls inhibits their ability to attend school and/ or complete their school work.
The community has purchased a spring for $11,000 but needs help with engineering design and infrastructure to bring the new spring online. The community is also seeking help on improving sanitation conditions in the community. The school does not have a sanitary sewage system and a very limited supply of water.