Chacaya, Guatemala

Image 1 Map

The town of Chacayá, on the western shore of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, currently confronts a significant public health risk. Historically the community of 1,500 Tz’tujil Mayans has drawn its drinking water directly from the lake, but the deterioration of the lake’s water quality has led to an increase in gastrointestinal infections. Complicating matters further, a series of massive cyanobacterial blooms on the lake in 2009 and 2015 have raised concerns about the community’s exposure to potentially deadly cyanotoxins. The community was interested in developing an alternative water supply that was clean and met their needs.

EWB USA Greater Austin Chapter began the Chacayá Water Supply Project in 2014.  On the first assessment trip in March 2015, we hiked to several mountain springs to identify their locations with GPS, measure output, and collect water quality samples.  The project team developed several water supply alternatives including:

  • Adding multimedia filtration and UV disinfection to existing surface water supply system;
  • Building a spring box, raw water transmission line, and chlorinator to replace existing surface water supply system; and
  • Drill a groundwater supply well, lift station, and chlorinator to replace existing surface water supply system.

On the second assessment trip in August 2015, the alternatives were presented and evaluated with the community, and the spring box collection alternative was selected.   A preliminary design was developed in April 2016 and a permit application was submitted to MARN (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources) to allow construction inside a National Park.  The permit was approved in September 2017, and the project team submitted the final design for approval that same month.

Construction began in March 2018 with a 12’ x 6’ x 3’ tall natural stone spring box to capture and filter spring water high on the mountain above the village.  We installed a buried 5-kilometer High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) raw water transmission line adjacent to a footpath through a gap in the peaks, down the steep face, underneath Highway 14, and across the coffee fields to the existing in ground storage tank.  The pipeline conveys spring water by gravity, with periodic air release valves, drain valves, and pressure relief tees installed for maintenance and protection of the pipeline.  A tablet chlorinator was installed to disinfect the raw water before it is stored and distributed to the residents of Chacayá.  The alternative water supply project was constructed in fits and starts until January 2019 when the pipeline was commissioned.  Because the pandemic has prevented travel, we have postponed the post-implementation trip until it has passed.  In the summer of 2020, we prepared an Operation and Maintenance Manual for the Chacayá Water Supply Project.

Image 10 Raw Water Line Profile

Image 11 Clean Water

Project Organization

Image 12 Mike Hoffman

Mike Hoffman – Project Manager – Mike.hoffman@aecom.com

Image 13 Craig Holloway

Craig Holloway – Responsible Engineer In Charge – craig.holloway@aecom.com

Image 14 Andrew Knipp

Andrew Knipp – Implementation Manager – Andrew.knipp@aecom.com

1st Assessment Trip – March 2015

  • Mike Hoffman, AECOM, Project Manager
  • Craig Holloway, AECOM, Responsible Engineer in Charge
  • Chelsea Burkett, AECOM, Health and Safety Officer
  • Brooke Joseph, AECOM, Team Member
  • Luis Alday, AECOM, Team Member

2nd Assessment Trip – August 2015

  • Craig Holloway, AECOM, Responsible Engineer in Charge
  • Stewart Holloway, UT Biomedical Engineering Student
  • Todd Nelms, UT Civil Engineering Student
  • Michael Guarino, UT Mechanical Engineering Student

1st Implementation Trip – March 2018

  • Mike Hoffman, AECOM, Project Manager
  • Craig Holloway, AECOM, Responsible Engineer in Charge
  • Andrew Knipp, AECOM, Implementation Manager

2nd Implementation Trip – June 2018

  • Mike Hoffman, AECOM, Project Manager
  • Craig Holloway, AECOM, Responsible Engineer in Charge
  • Andrew Knipp, AECOM, Implementation Manager

Operation and Maintenance Manual – August 2020

  • Craig Holloway, AECOM, Responsible Engineer in Charge
  • Andrew Hall, UT Dallas, Mechanical Engineering Student
  • Monica Batra-Shrader, UT, Chemical Engineering Student
  • James Uhl, UT, Chemical Engineering Student
  • Aly Hirani, UT, Mechanical Engineering Student