A well-worn, red pickup rumbles through a hairpin turn just outside the northern city limits of Soyapango, El Salvador. This sharp bend in the road doesn't raise much alarm because it's a small issue compared to the real danger. The biggest problem for this Toyota Hilux would be a landslide.
Nonetheless, the pickup is moving quickly through the turn; the driver is running late. Running late isn't unusual for Paco Gonzalez, ENLACE engineer in charge of Project Milagro. Paco's plate today, like most days, is quite full. Even so, working for a project that will provide accesible, clean water to thousands of residents in rural El Salvador is more than worth the effort.
After attending two meetings already, Paco is now off to a consultation with a group of engineers from the United States. Engineers Without Borders, an NGO based in Boulder, CO, is involved with projects in over 45 developing countries around the world. Five of its 12,000-plus members are working with ENLACE on a holding tank a few kilometers above the well site of this project. A week or two ago, the tank site (Rebombeo #2) was a collection of scrub brush and sink holes along the side of a mountain between Las Delicias and Las Animas. As of today, the ground is being excavated and compacted in order to host the 60 square meter water tank for Rebombeo #2.
These rebombeos are one of the protective measures planned into Project Milagro. Because of thegeographic size of the project, engineers decided that several inline pumps would be more effective than several megalithic pumps at the well site. The purpose of these rebombeo tanks is to maintain water levels in case power is lost.
Loss of power happens quite frequently in El Salvador's rainy season. And if the pumps are left running without any water in the pipeline, they can burn out. Enter the rebombeo tanks. They hold enough water to buy some time if power is lost at a station below one of the inline pumps.
If all goes well with Engineers Without Borders, Paco, along with local volunteers, will finish this tank within a few weeks. Then, back into the red diesel Toyota for Paco, and off to more meetings about the next steps and future phases of the project.