Newsletter October 2018

Water Quality in Region Worsens
Caminos de Agua consistently monitors the water quality situation in our watershed by testing hundreds of samples from wells and private residences; conducting interviews with community members on water access and tracking our projects. This year’s data (both quantitative and qualitative) makes the case that the situation is more urgent than ever since we are tracking more contaminated wells and water sources than ever. Our interviews reveal new levels of concern and desperation around water scarcity from community members. To address this growing need, Caminos de Agua is undergoing a strategic planning process that will impact every component of the organization.

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Caminos de Agua and Casita Linda join forces

Casita Linda and Caminos de Agua have joined forces to work with the community of Palo Colorado to build six large-scale rainwater harvesting systems in five new homes built by Casita Linda as well as one in the community’s elementary school. The 12,000-liter capacity cisterns, combined with ceramic water filters, ensure that families and students will have access to safe and healthy drinking and cooking water year-round. Last week (02-10 to 06-10), the first system was build at the elementary school.

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Fluoride exposure during pregnancy is linked to lower IQ in children

New and important research done in Mexico with 300 mother-children couples illustrates that fluoride exposure potentially has an even stronger impact on our children before they are born. Fluoride exposure was measured based on the fluoride levels in the urine of the mothers and children over a 12 year period. This study shows average values for urinary fluoride in the mothers and children of 0.90 mg/L and 0.82 mg/L, respectively (Read an article about the study by CNN here). 

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Disaster Relief and Project Support for Southern Mexico

September brought disaster to southern Mexico in the form of a 8.1 magnitude earthquake and hurricane Katia which destroyed buildings and infrastructure, displaced families, and disrupted water supplies. Our thoughts are particular with the families who lost loved ones.

We are able to place these filters thanks to our relationship with Concern America in Chiapas who distributes our ceramic water filters as part of their clean water programming. 

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Gravel, sand, and charcoal: Learning how to build high-quality, low-cost water treatment systems

Last month, a diverse group came together at Caminos de Agua's field site for a three-day water-filter-construction workshop. Participants came from the north (Chihuahua) and south (Chiapas) and from near (San Miguel, Mexico City) and far (the US, Colombia). The group included water professionals, farmers, architects, engineers, tradespeople, NGO workers, students, and many, many water enthusiasts. The participants showed up on Tuesday morning energized and excited to learn about biochar.

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Summer Course 2017: Sustainable Technologies in Action

Twelve engineers, development professionals, and students joined our two-week summer course - 2017 sustainable technologies in action - this year. In its fourth edition, the course grew out of CATIS Mexico’s vision to connect others to a broad array of sustainable technologies. While we have sharpened our focus on water solutions, we maintained our commitment to inspiring the next generation of changemakers in environmental solution seekers by partnering with IRRI Mexico on this summer course.
 

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Fluoride Removal Research: We are Now Closer than ever to a Fluoride Filter System

As many of our supporters know, the Independence Aquifer region in Central Mexico where Caminos de Agua works is in a permanent state of decline and contaminated with dangerous levels of naturally-occurring arsenic and fluoride, which is leading to irreversible health impacts on long-term users. Our rainwater harvesting work represents our ongoing projects that directly impact communities suffering from these issues, and we continue to expand and grow our rainwater program. However, rainwater harvesting has a large upfront cost and requires a lot of labor – up to 200 hours per system in most cases – and there are tens of thousands of people in this region alone that need immediate solutions.

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What do Chiapas, Popular Education and Saul Juarez have in Common?

These are the words of Saul reflecting on his trip to Chiapas as part of his JWH Initiative Leadership prize.

"Last year, I was fortunate to be awarded a grant from the JWH Initiative, which would be destined to continue training me in different aspects that will allow me to better perform the work that I have been doing for some years- mainly with people living in the rural communities of this region on water and other environmental issues."

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On Our Way to One Million Liters of Safe and Healthy Drinking Water!

This report was written originally for our Globalgiving campaign. To date, we have raised $23,434 raised of our $31,060 goal.

Dear GlobalGiving Supporters, This is a big update for us!  We ended 2016 with a major push on our GlobalGiving Campaign, and thanks to your support, combined with a very generous match by the Gates Foundation, we were able to bring in nearly $8,000 to continue this rainwater harvesting work.

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Local high schoolers get their hands dirty learning about water issues

Caminos de Agua recently completed a two-week educational module with 99 students at CBTis No. 60 School in San Miguel de Allende. The program included theoretical and practical components. First, the students spent three days in the classroom learning about local water issues. This multidisciplinary module comprised of lectures with practical case studies and an engaging play performed by local theatre group, Teatro Despierto. During the second week, the students constructed a rainwater harvesting cistern next to the classroom. By the final day, many of the students felt motivated to spread the word on the issues they had learned about and driven to work towards finding solutions.

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Cycling for water in the La Onza community

After several weeks of design and two days of installation in the field, the community of La Onza can now pump water directly from their shallow well into a nearby tank.

Water in the community of La Onza is very scarce in general and water in their deep well is too contaminated with arsenic and fluoride to be safe for consumption (see Caminos de Agua’s water quality monitoring map for details).

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Student-driven construction of Rainwater Harvesting System

Caminos de Agua, in partnership with El Maíz Más Pequeño A.C. and Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte, ran a workshop to construct a ferro-cement rainwater harvesting cistern at Bachillerato SABES Cerritos school in Guanajuato, over 5 days in February 2017. 

The project was an initiative of a group of eight female students, who proposed the project as an alternative solution for access to water at the school. The cistern will allow the school to work on new projects where the availability of water was identified as a necessity, such as the growing of vegetables and trees among others.

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Warka Water designs and Caminos de Agua

This year began with good news: staff member Casilda Barajas was awarded a grant by the Popular Cultures of Guanajuato Program (PACMYC 2017) to pilot the construction of a tower woven with local natural fibers that can function as a method of capturing air water, specifically dew. She proposed to develop the project with her group "Arqui-textures, from Basket to Architecture" in collaboration with Caminos de Agua and the designer and ceramist, director of Azul Cobalto, Oscar Vazquez Alanis.

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1 Million Liters of Safe & Healthy Drinking Water in 2017!

During our last update in late November 2016, we were just finishing a capacity training in a small rural community where we built a 12,000-liter rainwater harvesting system over the course of a week with local community members.  From that point, we continued building additional systems in the communities of Arenal, La Escoba, and Llano Verde.  By early December, all six 12,000-liter systems were finished – providing healthy and safe drinking water to dozens of families in....

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