Yucatán Reverse Osmosis System (YROS) Installation Trip Report
February 13-20, 2010
Initiating Partner (IP #617): Valley Presbyterian Church (VPC), Portola Valley, CA
Operating Partner (OP $616): Iglesia Presbyteriana Monte de Sión (MdS), Tekax, Yuc.
I. Executive Summary
After our 4 days of work with our friends of MdS, a LWW YROS system with 2500L raw water (RW) and 1100L purified water (PW) tank capacity was successfully installed at the Monte de Sión church in Tekax, Yucatán, Mexico (Figs. 1 and 2).
Additionally, we trained 7 MdS health/hygiene educators who, in turn, educated 65 members of their community in classes filled with laughter and singing. We had a mixture of men and women, youth and children, who attended the classes all of the three days.
Fig. 1 – VPC Team in front of MdS Church Fig. 2 – House with LWW System
Coincidentally, another LWW team from Yakima, WA, was installing a system in the nearby village of Yotholin. Our two teams had trained together at Calvin Crest. The Yakima team visited us on Wednesday, and we, in turn, visited them on Thursday. We hope the two churches will stay in contact with one another and help each other.
Pastor Manases Castellanos, Coordinator of the Presbiterio Peninsular visited our Tekax site several times, and was helpful in passing on his experience with other installations. It was helpful for the leaders of MdS to know whom to call at the Presbytery, if they were to need help, and might improve the MdS impression of Presbytery leadership.
A. Installation Summary
Site preparation by the OP team was outstanding, consisting of renovations to a pre-existing home adjacent to the church, including new raw water lines to the house, drainage lines to their underground cistern, and pre-wiring of the circuit breaker panels. Tile, paint and door surfaces in all bottling rooms were excellent. Only the purification room had inadequate surface finishes (concrete floor and painted stucco walls), due to miscommunication, something that will have to be rectified at some point. The installation went well with lots of eager help by the OP volunteers, and hampered only by the tight space constraints of the purification room (made for some tight pipe connections), the inability to raise the RW tank sufficiently to achieve rapid drainage (low water pressure in summer), and the frequent shut-offs of the system pumps due to overheating (low supply voltage). Fortunately, due to the head start afforded by the OP’s excellent site prep, we were able to complete the installation just in time to serve about 200-300 people gathered for the dedication ceremony.
In addition to those installation issues, it was felt that 4 days is not enough time to install a system and then adequately train the operators.
B. VPC Team Members (* indicates CWU-trained)
101 Anita Wotiz* (lead)
102 Alice Chiang* (lead), Cathy Paniagua, John Hurd, Ashley Pogue, Carl Stoffel, Joye Wegener, Robin Polastri, Joan Blackmon, Brenda Herrington, Natalie Shell, Samantha Blaser
103 Gian Polastri* (lead), Ted Meeker*, Pastor Mark Goodman-Morris*, Adam Wegener
C. MdS Leaders
We also had the great advantage of having three MdS CWU-educated members on our team, one from each class:
101 Orlando Góngora
102 Martha Martín
103 Miguel Cámara
VPC has had a 20-year relationship with MdS, funding the building of their church campus and visiting them 12 times. In November 2008, we contacted the MdS leadership to ask whether they would be interested in partnering in an LWW clean water system.
When we received their reply in February 2009, we found out that not only were they enthusiastic about the prospect of delivering clean water to their community, they had already purchased a small house adjacent to their church property.
VPC entered into LWW/OP covenant in April 2009. In discussions with Joanie Lukins, she agreed that we could proceed with a Site Survey trip before going to CWU training (not the normal order).
In May 2009, three people from VPC (Gian Polastri, Robin Polastri, Anita Wotiz) travelled to Tekax to complete the site survey and the IP/OP covenant. While testing their municipal water, we found high bacterial contamination and high levels of hardness. We discussed the covenant and completed everything except the days and times of operations and sales.
In October 2009, the VPC team members met with 3 delegates from MdS for training at CWU in Calvin Crest, CA (as detailed above).
III. Trip Preparation
A. Installation (103)
In Calvin Crest, we received a floor plan of the planned renovations of the water building in Tekax. Later in October we sent a floor plan of the proposed equipment layout and anticipated location of services so that renovation work could begin. By December the parts list was finalized and orders placed with Carlos Castilla, the LWW FCI, and with our partners at MdS. By late January we received photos of the completed construction work that indicated the electrical and drainage lines were already in place. Carlos Castilla, the supplier in Campeche, was very friendly, helpful, and delivered all of the ordered equipment the week prior to our arrival. In addition to various tools and spare parts, we also brought with us two pre-wired pump controllers and a pre-assembled (not glued) Woehler/Advent bottle rinser.
B. Education (102)
Our Education leader, Alice Chiang, trained the VPC education team during meetings held Nov-Jan. Team members were paired and given responsibility for specific education modules, which were spread among the 3 days.
Alice requested via email to Martha Martín, who had gone through CWU training with us, that she purchase many of the education supplies locally (crayons, scissors, construction paper, markers) that would be needed during the week.
Anita Wotiz was given the responsibility for presenting (to the educators) CWU 101 components of Covenant agreement, education/operation logs and records, and continuing education.
C. Project Management (101)
In the month before installation, we modified the Income/Expense Analysis Worksheet to include the relevant maintenance expenses for a YROS system and to fix some spreadsheet calculations (Appendix A). The spreadsheet was downloaded to Anita's laptop, which was taken to Tekax, because it was suspected that internet access would not be available or simple at the church (it was, indeed, unavailable).
IV. Trip Details
Daily Installation Progress Notes
Day ½ Sunday –
– Landed in Mérida Saturday evening, were picked up from the hotel the next morning by our OP, and arrived at MdS church at 1 pm for lunch.
– Unpacked/inventoried all parts and equipment.
– Verified good segregation between rooms, clean surface finishes in bottling rooms (tiled floors/counters, glass/aluminum doors, smooth/washable walls). Purification room, however, was found with same concrete floor and painted rough stucco walls as rest of house, something that could not be rectified in time and will have to be done later.
– Verified routing of electrical services (3x20A breakers dedicated to YROS system and separate breakers for lighting/outlets), raw water (3/4” line to RW room), and drain lines (drains in all bottling rooms, purification room, but not in RW room).
– Confirmed positioning of major equipment (purification room a bit tight in space to accommodate PW tank and equipment) and began taping some lines on walls.
– Prepared for evening church service.
Day 1 Monday –
– Made electrical connections to switch/outlet boxes.
– Constructed concrete pads to elevate water tanks. Used simple cinder blocks under the RW tank (in segregated room) but filled the cinder blocks and smoothed all exterior surfaces with cement under the PW tank in the purification room to facilitate cleaning.
– Were advised not to raise RW tank much above eye-level due to typical drop in water pressure during the summer months (otherwise a booster pump would have to be installed in the supply line). We did not realize it initially but this decision proved to cause considerable delays later in the week, following shocking of the system, because of the inability to drain the tank adequately and rinse out the high concentration chlorine quickly.
– Continued taping pipe routes on walls, and began cutting/duct-taping pipe/valve assemblies beginning with the tighter corners.
– Perforated walls to route pipes between rooms (completed dust-generating by end of first day).
Day 2 Tuesday –
– Washed/shocked the RW and PW tanks.
– Completed cutting and dry fitting of system piping by noon.
– Glued/mounted piping connected to RW and PW tanks in final position.
– Glued/mounted most of piping in purification room (one team).
– Glued/mounted piping and faucets in bottling rooms (separate team).
– Rerouted drain under one sink to accommodate bottle rinse assembly.
– Lost light in purification room in late afternoon due to failed ballast unit (replaced the next morning).
Day 3 Wednesday –
– Rinsed gravel and loaded it into charcoal filter and water softener. Moved tanks into final position.
– Loaded activated charcoal into carbon filter and loaded resin slurry into water softener (used funnels improvised from the tops of one-gallon milk jugs).
– Finished final pipe connections and labeled all pipes.
– Filled RW tank at 5 gpm (water flow measured last summer was only 1.5 gpm).
– Began leak checks/repairs on entire system.
– 3 pm visit by installation team from Yakima/Yotholín, followed by group tours of the installation by health ed classes.
Day 4 Thursday –
– Completed leak checks and repairs.
– Added 4L chlorine to 600L in RW tank (min. volume required to prime pump) to shock entire system.
– Drained, refilled with water, and re-drained RW and PW tanks of concentrated chlorine. The low position of RW tank in relation to the pump and drains made it impossible to drain the final 200-300L adequately, making dilution of the shock chlorine solution exceedingly slow. Recognizing that this would become a problem each time that the OP would have to shock the system we decided to stop, reposition the RW tank, rebuild its outlet line and tee-in a new, lower drain line.
– After lunch, with the glue dry on the new drain assembly, we refilled the RW tank with water and quickly rinsed the residual chlorine out of the system. During these operations, however, the supply pump began to shut down frequently due to overheating. Positioning a large fan near the pump helped but did not prevent completely the periodic shutdowns thus prolonging the operations.
– Backwashed the charcoal filter and water softener, and verified the softener’s automatic regeneration cycles. Were unable, however, to confirm proper operation of the brine tank’s float valve as we could not detect water flow in or out of the brine tank. Due to lack of time (only a few hours before dedication) we decided to proceed with system start-up and to refer the OP to the experienced operators of the LWW installation in nearby Ticul for help in troubleshooting the regeneration procedure.
– Verified the absence of chlorine and hardness downstream of the water softener and started up the R/O system, during which time the recirculation pump also overheated and shut down. After allowing the pump to cool and resetting the circuit breaker, the R/O system was restarted and product/waste flow were quickly balanced at 2 gpm each with low total dissolved solids in the product.
– We proceeded to process about 100L of R/O water before filling 4 jugs just in time for the dedication ceremony.
Lessons Learned (Installation)
·We were very fortunate to have had 3 members of the OP attend CWU last October. It helped ensure that the building would be constructed according to local health requirements, that the educational modules were well attended, and that the operation of the system would be well run after we left.
·Unfortunately only one member of our 103 team was able to attend the YROS module while at CWU. The others were trained only in the standard LWW system, which for the most part is not very relevant (e.g. sand filter, big-blues, ozonator) to the peculiarities of the Yucatán. This was a handicap during the installation itself.
·Generally speaking 4 days is insufficient time to both install the system and train the local operators adequately. The delays that we encountered were probably not that unusual and we would have benefited from one additional day devoted exclusively to operation.
·We encouraged the OP to seek out guidance (regarding maintenance, spare parts, etc.) from their more experienced neighbors operating similar LWW systems in the region.
·Aware of the possibility of fluctuating water pressure, we had not at first realized the consequences of limiting the elevation of the raw water tank on the ability to drain it properly and to rinse it effectively following routine disinfection of the system. We did not realize that the multitude of small water tanks seen on the roof of every house were not filled by pressure from the town’s municipal water cisterns rather by small booster pumps put there to compensate for the poor flow of city water.
·Similarly we were unprepared for the delays incurred by frequent overheating and shutdown of the pumps due to fluctuations in line voltage.
·Neither the R/O module nor the UV-lamp are delivered with any spec sheets, flow diagrams, or operating instructions, requiring a bit of guesswork during installation and start-up. For example, the training manual emphasizes the need to ensure that flow through the UV-lamp does not exceed its specified rating, which in the case of the InstaPure lamp was 8 gpm. However, there was no mention of how to ensure that flow should be controlled below that level (a call to Carlos Castilla did not shed any light here). Fortunately, the ¾ hp ESPA pumps, even with bottling faucets wide open could deliver only about 6 gpm, well below the UV-lamp’s limit.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings from 9:30 - 12, our 10 VPC Education Team (8 women, 2 men) trained 7 MdS health/hygiene educators (4 women and 3 men) using the CWU curriculum.
The Lesson Plan outline is included in Appendix C. We know we were lucky to have the men on each team because it made the afternoon teaching of the men in the community simpler. The trainers' sessions were wonderful. Our VPC trainers were bright and energetic and filled the training with laughter and fun.
Each of those 3 afternoons, those educators led 4 classes, consisting of 18 women, 7 men, 15 youth, and 25 children. Again, we knew we were very fortunate to have that many men attend this training each day. And these afternoon classes were enjoyed by the community.
Martha Martín had coordinated the education very well in Tekax, both the notification of the trainers and students and the material she had been asked to purchase in advance.
All of the education went according to plan and exceeded our expectations. The singing, Bible stories and health modules were well received. The men dropped some of the craft activities when they taught their afternoon classes, however.
Project Management and Systems Operations education topics
The drier project management topics that Anita presented to the educators were also well received. On the first day, the Covenant was described, with emphasis on the agreement to give away a portion of the water, sell the water for no more than 50% of retail, treat the operation as a ministry while breaking even in costs, and keeping maintenance/sales/operating-expense/education records and logs that will be examined on the follow-up visits.
On the second day, the maintenance procedures and logs were discussed and examined, and the educators understood the necessity for keeping sales records that also indicate whether the customer has had the LWW health/hygiene education. This was another opportunity to discuss that a percentage of the water had to be given away for free.
On the third day, the continuing education was discussed, pointing to the template Education Plan and discussing the necessity for keeping logs of attendees. This was the first time that it occurred to them that they should have been keeping track of the attendees at the current classes, and they scrambled a bit to reconstruct those. They also understood that all these records and logs would be examined during the follow-up visits.
Gian taught a module that described the system operations and the function of each filter. This was a great hit, especially with the male educators.
We recommend the inclusion of these topics because the educators are also the leaders and can help implement and sustain good practices and answer questions posed by the community.
On Wednesday, each of the classes toured the installation at the end of the day. This was a bit disruptive to the installation team as it took Gian Polastri away from installation leadership during a critical period. He was the only one who could both explain the system well in Spanish. However, this was critical to the buy-in to the system by the men in class, and the youth class enjoyed it as well. Many of the youth were technically prepared to understand many of the details. The women seemed to enjoy their tour as well. The children were simply marched through the facility by Adam (to minimize time spent by Gian), and seemed to enjoy being where they wouldn't be allowed to be later.
Lessons Learned (Education)
We highly recommend letting the classes tour the system, despite the disruption to the installation. The added topics of Project Management / Covenant and Systems Operations were valuable.
We had too many supplies and our expense and our travel weight could have benefitted from a little more guidance on the quantity of supplies needed for each topic.
C. Project Management
We had hoped that there would have been some work done by the OP on the Business Plan and the Income/Expense Analysis before we arrived, but it was clear early on that there had been no thought about either one. They had the Sample Business Plan in Spanish because of their CWU attendance, and since we did not see one on the LWW web site, we were happy they had a copy.
Before arriving, Gian gave Anita changes to the Income/Expense Analysis sheet that were specific to the YROS system (maintenance costs, mainly). Knowing that they were going to pay their operators, we took a crack at running the numbers (taking a guess at the operators' pay), and we saw that they would be very tight, and we wanted to make sure they understood this.
The primary use for the Business Plan was to get them to state their intention about operating and sales hours. This turned out to be very important because they are planning on long hours for both, and we pointed out the correlation between this and their operator expenses. They initially agreed with our estimate of 800 pesos/week in wages (total), but when we pointed out that this would have to cover their 100 hours/week labor estimate, they recognized that these were not compatible. The Income/Expense sheet (Appendix A) has been updated to give cells for stating weekly total operator income, rather than assuming a single amount or projecting from the operating hours (because they think the operators will sell and deliver as well as run the system).
While there, we created a YROS Weekly Maintenance Log that reflected their system. It is included in Appendix B.
These two forms (Income/Expenses Analysis and YROS Weekly Log) were vital, and it was good to have a laptop with us to prepare and modify them. We transferred the files to the church computer via USB Flash drive, which had also been brought with us.
Lessons Learned (Project Management)
It would have been nice to have a soft copy of the Sample Business Plan in both English and Spanish, and we recommend that it be available on the website (if it was, we missed it). It would also be nice to have sample log sheets for Sales, Expenses, and Education on the web. We made blank log forms, to try to get the idea across, but samples would be great.
It was very convenient to have a laptop and flash drive with us. The flash drive was handy to transfer files and print files, and Mark composed his dedication sermon on it and printed it (so that it could be translated into Spanish before the service).
The MdS system produced 4 bottles of clean water only an hour before the Dedication service was held in the sanctuary and outside the water building. The service began in the Sanctuary with prayer and song, moved outside for recognition and ribbon cutting, and then returned to the sanctuary for a sermon and 350 people ringing the sanctuary with communion cups filled with the clean water produced by their system.
This Living Waters project in Tekax was a memorable and gratifying experience for everyone who participated in it. We appreciate the excellent training, guidance and support that we received from Living Waters for the World to help make this a success. Our twenty-year relationship of trust and friendship with Monte de Sión gave us a great advantage. We trust them, we know they are intelligent and sophisticated, and they will overcome their various installation obstacles and deliver clean water reliably to their community.
Because Monte de Sión is such a responsible and faithful community, we hope that in the future, when they have stabilized their LWW operation, there will be an opportunity for us to partner with them as initiating partners for another system in a nearby Yucatan village.
Income/Expense Analysis Worksheet (modified for YROS, Tekax example)
Operación del Sistema LWW MdS
El Mes y el Año:
Tanque del agua sin tratar
Cloro en el Agua (ppm)
Volumen en el Tanque (Lt.)
Filtro de Sedimento (lavado/tratado con Cloro cada semana o mes)
Medidor de Presión (PG1) (psi)
Filtro de Carbón
(1-2 x cada semana)
Carbón Cambiado (cada 1-2 años)
Regenerado (cada 3-5 lotes)
Adición de la Sal
Cambiar la Resina
Medidor de Flujo (ppm)
Medidor de Presión (PG2) (psi)
Prueba de Dureza (ppm)
Prueba de Cloro (ppm)
Elemento Osmosis Reversa
Cambiar Filtro 1 µm (cada 9 meses)
Prueba de TDS (ppm)
Limpiar Membranas RO (cada 2-3 meses)
Tanque del Agua Purificada Limpiar y Choro-Shock
(cada 3 meses)
Horas de Operación Lámpara UV
Lámpara UV Limpiada (6 meses)
Total de Botellas Producidas
Lesson Plan at a Glance
Monday Feb 15: Germs and Water. When to use clean water. Spiritual Unit 2 – Creation Story
Health Unit 1 – Germ Theory
·Activity 21 – Water Quiz
·Activity 8 - Creation Cut-out
·Activity 1 – Agar Culture
·Activity 3 – Germs are Everywhere
·Activity 23 – Diarrhea pamphlet
·Activity 29 - Spread the Word
·Activity 35 Clean Water Priority Ladder
·The LWW Convenants - what they mean
Tuesday Feb 16: How LWW system works and how to care for it
Spiritual Unit 4 – Water From the Rock
Health Unit 3 – LWW system , Unit 4 - Keeping water clean.
·Activity 11 – Water wands
·Activity 32 – How Filters Work
·Activity 13 – Water System Puzzle
·Activity 9 – Keep it clean
·Activity 16 - Clean Water Charades
·Activity 17, 18 – Clean Water Pamphlet
·Activity 5 - Oragami Cups
·System maintenance, records, and logs
Wednesday Feb 17: Washing Hands to Keep Healthy Spiritual Unit 6 – Woman at the Well
Health Unit 2 – Where Germs Live , Health Unit 5 – Healthy Hands
·Activity 6 – UV Light
·Activity 33 – Spread Germs
·Activity 20 – Germs Hate Soap
·Activity 34 – Hand washing
·Activity 24 Germ Pamphlet
·Activity 29 - Spread the Word
·Activity 31 – Keep it up: continuing Health/Hygiene Education
Crafts Night – Tuesday Feb 16 (cancelled due to lack of time)