Wednesday, July 11, 2012

All is set for a great new project.

Tuesday morning Raynold and I finished our survey from the spring into town by 9 AM!  I guess you get to be ahead of schedule when you start 3 straight days of 4:30 AM.  It's still dark then but much cooler.  We paid our survey helpers, each for $US 10 a day and headed into town.  We went street by street and took notes about the conditions where we would have to dig to install the water pipes.  Our biggest obstacle is the canals built for rainwater drainage, each is about 3 feet wide and 4 to 8 feet deep.  The idea is to avoid crossing them as much as possible but eventually we'll have to navigate them one way or another.  It sounds like Raynold is going to have the guys tunnel under them by hand.  He'll likely have to make 20-30 crossings.

Then on Wednesday morning we headed out to measure the flow of water into the water tank above Hinche.  There is an old water system built in the early 80's.  It provides maybe 5 gallons per person every other day.  The way we measure the flow is to close the valve leaving the tank and measure the rise of water in the tank per minute.  We measured 200 gallons per minute, less than half what the new system will need.  But our contract does not address the water supply component of the system.

With all of our survey results collected it was time to meet with the government water authority and present our results.  There also happens to be a project funded by the national government to create a master plan for this very water system.  There has been a European company in town for the past 3-4 months doing the study.  But because their results won't be ready or approved for at least a few months we were called in to create a plan that could be built at least where the new roads are going.  It was a great meeting and all appear to be on board with the ideas we presented.  I had an AutoCAD plan of  the water pipe layout for the entire system for all to see.  We received some great feedback from the local water guys to tweak the design.  We are also hoping to incorporate as many of the ideas from the other engineer's plan as possible.

The day ended at the SECOSA office in Port au Prince.  They are the road contractor and the source of funds for our water project.  They checked out our plan and approved an initial payment to get the project moving along.  The road builders in Hinche were ready for pipe to be laid months ago so the sooner we can get materials ordered and on site the better.  If it takes more than a couple weeks I'm afraid they will start paving streets.  That would make our job nearly impossible.  Oh, Haiti; why do you have to work backwards like this... humph. 

While we were waiting in the SECOSA office I dropped in and had a chat with their AutoCAD technician.  I had spent almost 2 days cleaning up his drawing before I could use it for each of the past 3 water projects.  So I figured a bit of instruction could go a long way in making my job easier.  He was more than happy to take the instruction and it turned into an hour-long training session.  I'm sure he came right out of school and was asked to create drawings without any kind of mentor or established system for working. I also had a couple hour session teaching my student, Raynold how to use AutoCAD the other night.  He's attempting to run it on a Mac which is a nightmare but we'll find a way somehow to get him creating his own plans.

So far our partnership with the SECOSA road contractor has been very productive.  So much of the money spent in Haiti goes for reports and studies.  Very little ever actually gets built.  In this arrangement SECOSA gets a contract to build the roads and tacks a water system onto the contract.  We share the same survey and AutoCAD drawing which saves time and money.  It also guarantees that work actually gets done.  And I'm proud to say that almost every penny we spend on labor goes into the pocket of a Haitian, killing 2 birds with one stone.  They get jobs and a water system all in the same project. 

This trip has nearly come to an end.  I'll be on a plane back to the States within a few hours.  But it was more productive than I could have imagined.  We also started some great relationships that I think will go a long way towards moving Haiti forward.  So until next time na'we pita from the Red Hat Water Guy...


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