The Situation

For more than half-a-century indigenous peoples of Ecuador’s northern Amazon have lived downriver from Ecuador’s largest oil fields. With the rivers and creeks contaminated, families were forced to either bathe and drink from unsafe sources, or travel long distances to find clean spring water.

The Vision

Together, we are building rainwater harvesting systems for every Kofan, Siona, Secoya, and Waorani family in Ecuador’s oil-affected Amazon. Community members are trained to lead every aspect of project implementation, from system installation to project coordination to system maintenance, thus ensuring the rainwater catchment systems will continue to provide families with access to clean, safe drinking water for years to come.

+ 6182 People Benefited

1052 Installed Systems

72 Communities

These systems that will provide families with clean drinking water are the result of our hard work. We built these systems. We will take care of them. Together we can improve the quality of life for our own communities.

- Emergildo Criollo, Kofan leader.

The Technology

Rainwater is harvested from rooftop gutter-spouts on people’s homes, with the flow diverted into a first tank where the water passes through a specially-designed biosand filter. The water passes through four layers of filtration:

  1. a biologically active surface layer,
  2. a fine sand layer,
  3. a layer of crushed quartz, and finally,
  4. a layer of coarse gravel.

The top hypogeal layer (called a “Schmutzdecke”), contains microorganisms that remove bacteria, trap contaminants, and break down other incoming organic material. The next two layers work together to create a complex maze of sand grains that microbes get trapped in and die. They also trap contaminants such as toxic metals and petroleum pollution, which stick to the sand as they flow by in a process called adsorption. Finally, the layer of gravel serves as a support to the sand and quartz layers so nothing flushes out of the tank as the clean water flows into a second, large anti-bacterial storage tank. Turn the faucet on the storage tank and watch the abundant flow of safe, clean, clear water.

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