An adequate supply of potable water is the most basic need of all humans. The rainfall in Guatemala is divided into the dry season (November – March) and the wet season (April – October). Though it may rain every day for a month during the rainy season, during the dry season water must be carried to the individual homes by the women and children. Often the nearest water supply is several miles away. Even during the rainy days, finding clean water can be a challenge for indigenous communities in rural communities of Guatemala. Women and children walk for miles each day to find clean water to bring home for their families. Many people must resort to drinking unclean water, risking water-borne diseases and resulting in high infant mortality rates. In some communities, the Muni (municipality or local government) has done water projects to try to alleviate the situation. These programs usually consist of a water “choro” which is little more than a spigot connected to hoses that stretch to a stream at a higher altitude many miles away. Only people that participated in the Muni project are allowed to use these, meaning that anyone not in the project must continue to use the river or natural deposits. Those that do use the choros are still faced with numerous problems. Though closer and cleaner than the river, these spigots are still far from most houses and a crowd is often gathered to fill their containers with the trickle of water. In some areas even the trickle is not reliable and rationing has occurred. In some of these situations, all members of the family must get up at one o’clock in the morning and take any available container to the choro and lug these containers back to the house. Then this water must be rationed throughout the week. Even in the most developed parts of Guatemala City, where the neighborhoods are quite luxurious, houses almost always have large factory-made expensive water tanks to supplement times when water might not be available. The largest of these tanks is only 2,500 liters and costs Q2521.35 (not including construction of a stand, fittings and pipes).
Seeds of Help Foundation has built many water tanks that are used to capture rain water during the rainy season to be used during the five month dry season. Rain water is captured in a gutter from the roof of the houses and channeled into the tanks. These tanks keep the water clean from many of the contaminants that are commonly found in the ground and rivers. These tanks also put the water very near the house where it can be used throughout the dry season, and also as a supplement during the rainy season.
We currently have several different designs of cement tanks which we are able to alter to suit the needs for different areas.
1,500 – 3,000 liter tank — This tank is movable after its construction, but does not hold a large amount of water. This is good for areas where the water is usually available, but which may be out for a few days.
5,000 liter in-ground tank — This tank is easy to build but it does not keep the water as clean from dirt and debris.
8,000 liter half-in-ground — This tank is a combination of what we learned from the 3,000 and 5,000L tanks. Most of the tank is build in the ground so is easy to build and the size can readily be modified for a larger tank. The top is covered with a cement dome to keep out dirt and debris. This is the best design for most applications.
10,000 liter above ground tank—This design is difficult to build in large numbers, but is great for certain applications (see school water tanks below). These provide more water than one family group typically uses through the season, so the original idea was for several families to share one tank. However it has proven to be more efficient to build separate tanks for individual families.