BART FORMAN, Engineers Without Borders, at WVRC on October 8th
DAVID FRIEDMAN led the Pledge. JOHN WOODALL gave the Invocation. and I failed, somehow, to pick it up. I’m sorry. LENNY, fearless as ever, came forward upon being cast as having conducted in Russia, during which time he wore a really great fur hat. LENNY tells me he hoped Prexy Ed would give HIM the hat, but it was not to be. Anyway, he then took us through This is MY Country!
SUNNY was of course with LENNY, and ANN SAMSON brought Katia, who recently was the President of our Rotaract Club. She is now a first-year student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA! We always knew she was a winner and UCLA Medicine is about as good as it gets. I sat next to Masaki Nakada, our Ambassadorial Scholar from Japan. He is currently living in Santa Monica, and he rides his bike to and from UCLA. If anyone has a room to rent, closer to Westwood, he would be quite interested check with me, please. Masaki was introduced by PP HOMER NEWMAN.
There was a depleted Head Table, but Prexy ED plowed ahead with asking what those who WERE present had in common? The prize was a bottle of white merlot (an unusual blend, I would guess…) which it was claimed would have been drunk by Roman Polanski had he been in the U.S. at the time!
A group of our members are enroute to San Francisco. They will be hosted by JANICE and GEORGE DEA, and will be meeting with the newly-formed Rotary Club of San Francisco/Chinatown. I’m sure they will return with lots of stories. I reminded everyone that Reading To Kids is this weekend Saturday from 0900 to noon. We will be meeting at Magnolia Elementary School, and new readers are always welcome I may give you a call.
A Turkish Delight, our deluxe dinner party with wine and entertainment at the home of NEVIN SENKAN is set for Sunday, October 25th, starting at 5:30. It’s a benefit for hearing-impaired children in Turkey, and the proceeds will buy needed equipment for testing them. It’s $50, and NEVIN will take your checks. In addition to those listed last week, new participants include BOB and CYNTHIA LUSK, DON and ROZ NELSON, ERNIE and JOY WOLFE, and DAN PRICE. There is still space available, so do get your checks in, please.
Next week, Prexy ED has been commanded to attend the USC-Notre Dame football game in South Bend. Being obedient, he has agreed to do his duty, and thus won’t be here on October 15th. Incoming President MARK BLOCK will take over, so we may not even have an actuary joke. However, MARK has assured me that he will perform some sleight of hand magic tricks, so keep your hands on your wallets!
Reminder two weeks from now October 22nd - our District Governor, Susanne Sundberg, who belongs to the Bell Gardens Club, will be making her annual visit to WVRC. She is certain to have an excellent message, and we are encouraging wives and significant others to attend. And, for the Board, you are due at 10:30, so please be on time.
And once again, we have an actuary joke I should tell you that the quality of these yarns and fables is on the rise, in my opinion. Anyway, the question of the day is, How do you get an actuary to laugh on Saturday? And the answer is, Tell the actuary a joke on Thursday. So there.
I had another email from Jamie Feld. She confirms that she is living in Cordoba, Argentina, and has started her field interviews. Her address is Jamiefeld@gmail.com, and she loves the idea of hearing from some youngsters as Pen Pals. Do drop her a line, please.
MARK ROGO reported on the Westwood Library. They had their annual fundraiser this past Sunday, and honored Walter Mirsich , whose book “I Thought We Were Making a Movie, Not History “ was autographed by Mr. Mirsich and presented to SUNNY and LENNY FRIEDMAN. This was in token of their long and close friendship with Mr. Mirsich a nice honor, certainly.
MARK also introduced our Speaker, Dr. Barton Forman. Dr. Forman is from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and he led the team that carried out our “Engineers without Borders” well program in Guatemala. They took the five-hour flight to Guatemala City, taking along eleven students who helped build the cisterns that they had designed. Thus these families in such a remote area now have clean water, all year long. This makes a major difference in youngsters, in particular, since they cannot handle toxics as well as adults
Dr. Forman first introduced his colleague, who has had an important role in this whole project. The village where they built the cisterns is Chocaterry. It is about 150 miles from Guatemala City, on the very edge of the Continental Divide. This is a particularly difficult area to get water, since the streams only run during the rainy season the object of the cisterns, of course, is to provide a year-around supply. All the rain falls during the summer, and thus the intervening eight months can be very difficult. The only way, before this project, was to have mothers and small children walk downhill with buckets, which they fill from well water, and then lug them back up the hill, returning for another fill if possible. This is very labor intensive and since the average mother in Guatemala has seven children, that increases the need.
The result is that kids, in particular, don’t get enough water, to drink, or keep clean. They cannot go to school during the dry season, since they must carry water. He showed slides of some of the carriers the adults carry ten liters, which weighs about 22 pounds! The UCLA team talked to many inhabitants decided that providing water was the very primary need, and then returned here to design a system. They first designed a program that would pump the water up to the top of the hill, using a gasoline-driven pump, and the water would then flow naturally down to where it was needed. However, the cost of the fuel for the pump was about ten dollars per month, each and the villagers simply didn’t have enough money to pay for it.
So they then designed a system of cisterns, each connected to one home, which depended upon collecting water during the rainy season and storing it for use in the dry season. They built two pilot cisterns, and chose the one that worked best. This last visit they were able to build seven more cisterns, and these were allocated to the homes of widows, who had the most need. Each tank holds between six and eight thousand liters of storage, which is enough to get through the dry season. The water comes off the roof during the rainy season, and drains into the cistern.
The cost of each cistern is $750, including trained masons to work the cement. This also includes housing the workers during construction. The intent is to supply ten people with water from each cistern. They have found that collecting rain water is probably the cleanest water you can get. They were given units to measure purity, and found rain water to be excellent. The water is carried to the cistern by plastic pipes, which last at least 20 years.
The first step is to dig a big hole, line it with reinforcing steel wire mesh, and then pour the concrete to a thickness of 4 inches. Sequentially, after the bottom is poured, they fill the hole with a canvas bag stuffed with sawdust, which allows the rest of the cistern to be molded. Once poured, it takes about three weeks for the cement to be set, and ready for hookup. So the water flows from the roof, and is pumped out by a simple hand pump. This is able to be operated by small children, so anyone can use it. They have found now, after use, that the cisterns hold more water than expected, and last all year long partly because people there are used to being very frugal with water, of course.
Extended Q&A. How do they decide who gets cisterns? A local citizens committee decides, period. What is the cost per liter? About one dollar per liter for the first year after that, no cost since the system is self-sustaining. Have you considered using solar power to pump water? Yes, and the amount of voltage produced simply doesn’t provide enough pumping power. Does the tin roof produce rust to contaminate the runoff? The rust produced is minimal, and we have found that it sinks to the bottom of the cistern immediately. Is the system able to withstand earthquakes? Yes, it is very stable. And all piping is above ground, so any leak shows immediately. What about other than tin roofs? Most roofs are of tin, but the system is adaptable. They have found if they can recover just 20% of the water that falls, that will fill the tank. Have you considered building a giant sis tern and then hooking it up to a number of homes? Yes, but the problem remains of the need to pump the water to the intended users. Does the recipient of the cistern pay anything? Yes, because that makes it their own sometimes as little as l/2 of one percent of the cost. They have found that one cistern per home is far and away the best system. How can Rotary help? We can use any money you provide, and we have a proven product that is also self-sustaining. Where do they get the cement? At the local hardware store when bought by the local resident, he will get the best price, every time. Dr. Forman referred to the “Gringo Discount” which is usually costing about 20% more than locals pay. When the team arrives, all the needed materials are on hand they spend no time buying stuff. How do you clean the roof when it first starts to rain? There is a trap before it reaches the cistern which catches the first runoff. Are your pipes plastic? Yes, they are polyvinylchloride, standard for such use. They also have a Stanford-trained engineer who has retired in Guatemala, and he is available to frequently check on how the systems are working. Do you have any restrictions on those receiving the water, then selling it? Not as yet. The water filtration device, for instance, cannot be sold. But it has not come up yet. How did you select this particular village? They got solar panels donated to operate used computers. In cooperation with other non-profits, they determined where there was great need. What is the basis of employment in this village?
Essentially, subsistence farming. How long does it take to build a cistern? About ten days, on average. Is your cost estimate realistic? Well, we thought we could build six, and we built seven, so we are still learning. They train local masons to work the concrete, so the project definitely pays for some local labor. The design phase is ongoing using canvas bags to form the cistern is probably not the best way, but we are learning all the time.
Bart Forman, thank you for a most enlightening report. Keep up the good work, please
Prexy ED announced that LEAH VRIESMAN would be leading a panel discussion on health care.