GeoEngineers has awarded a $2,500 grant to the University of California-Berkeley Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA). The grant will support the chapter’s ongoing project to address widespread arsenic contaminated groundwater in the Hautta community of Peru. The level of contamination is ten times that accepted by the World Health Organization and carries the risk of causing serious health issues such as cancer, nerve and skin damage and circulatory problems for those exposed to it. The project stands to directly impact the lives of 400 people and indirectly impact the lives of another 3,000, according to the chapter’s grant application.
“It is vital that companies like GeoEngineers and geoprofessionals do more to support communities around the world,” said GeoEngineers’ Principal Geologist Dave Cook, LG, CPG, a lifetime member of EWB-USA who was recently elected to its Board of Directors. “GeoEngineers has been a proud supporter of EWB-USA for many years; including supporting professional mentors, participating financially and traveling to various communities to help educate and support communities with earth, water and infrastructure-related needs,” Cook added.
The University of California-Berkeley project has included five trips to Peru over two years to assess conditions, provide water-safety education, implement a community rainwater catchment and disinfection system and install three prototypes for household filtration and coagulation systems. The team installed a community rainwater catchment and disinfection system at a primary school on their last trip to Peru in July 2013. The grant from GeoEngineers, along with others, will help fund a trip in January 2014 to ensure the system is working properly and that local caretakers are maintaining the tank correctly. During the trip, the team will also evaluate the performance of three filtration and coagulation prototypes.
“This team is working tremendously hard to find the most applicable technologies and sciences to address the arsenic issues in these communities,” said GeoEngineers’ Environmental Engineer Claudia De La Via who traveled with the team in 2012. “I fully enjoyed working with them a few years ago, and I look forward to more good outcomes from the team’s efforts.”