Recuperación de Ríos: Laboratories rurales para tratamientos alternativos de agua.
We bring education to community classrooms to reduce contamination, treat wastewater and purify drinking water using low cost designs.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Recuperación de Ríos
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Casa Blanca, Poncitlan
La Cañada , Ixtlahuacan
Juanacatlán , Juanacatlán
La Azucena, El Salto
Tecualtitán, Zapotitan del Rey
Getting water from a public filter in Casa Blanca.
In five communities we are currently building simple water filtration systems like this one in Degollado. The engineer who built this project is currently leading our classroom and project activities. This treatment plant uses old shipping containers for primary and secondary treatment and then a constructed wetland system to polish the discharge. Our goal is to produce many of these with degrees of variation to quickly come up with a new and effective low cost design.
Women in Casa Blanca put the finishing touches on their slow sand filter. This filter is located in the community's DIF center which offers free meals to low-income community members. The DIF has no funding for this activity and this filter helps make their efforts possible.
A participant from our classes in Casa Blanca poses with her new slow sand filter. In this community members have been meeting for two years, attending educational seminars and building filters. The filters are designated for households with low incomes currently spending more than 15 percent of their income on drinking water, or where they simply can not afford safe drinking water.
The Santiago River is one of Mexico's most contaminated river and it passes through or around all of the communities where we work. After years of working on investigations in this region, studying the state's efforts to contain this contamination and the reasons for it's growth, project designers decided to take educational resources directly to communities so that they could build their own sustainable wastewater and drinking water solutions. Our goal is to improve water quality in this river.
In this photo, participants are learning about how to wash sand for our drinking water filters. We hold events bringing all of our communities to work together and share their experiences.
We hold events like this one where water treatment experts teach and train residents the basics of water treatment. Participants first gain confidence building simple drinking water filters and then attempt to build more complex waste water systems. In this village, La Canada, class participants have begun to commercialize their own line of biodegradable cleaning products to help their neighbors and others minimize the contamination.
In this classroom setting in La Canada, residents are learning how to minimize their use of harmful chemical products in the home and when possible how to make and use alternatives. In La Canada, community members gather every other Monday afternoon to attend our classes and plan their activities.
This is a classroom setting in Casa Blanca where participants gather every other Saturday to learn about a variety of water-related themes. In this class, participants are sharing their experiences using their slow sand filters and learning how to carry out periodic maintenance.
Students from local universities and young people from our communities come together to events host. We try to carry out two or three of these every year where we can bring young leaders into the communities to listen to the people and help build filters. These young people are a tremendous help and the community responds by making meals and welcoming them warmly.
In this photo class was held at a participant's house in Tecualtitan. This class was dedicated to the building of a slow sand filter and participants practiced the technique of "learning-by-doing" as they helped. Frequently, as in this case, the host invites other members of the community to come and everyone brings a meal they can share after the work is done.
In the events where we bring university students and community members together we work in teams. On this day, some students and community members worked preparing sand while others planted plants that we will use in our wetland treatment systems and still others burned coconut shells that we use to make activated charcoal.
Here we are washing sand, preparing it for a filter that will help a family access clean safe water.
Community members also build the filters. We usually find a place in the shade and share an afternoon preparing the sand and other materials to make the filters. In this photo community members in La Canada are building a filter for a small farming family.
Community members in Casa Blanca are preparing materials to make a slow sand filter that will go into the community's health care center. The classroom participants decide where the filters will go based on the priorities of the community. Schools, clinics and community meal centers are first on the list.
Community members in Juanacatlan are putting the finishing touches on a filter that they are using to treat water from a freshwater well that is used in this shared community space.
This is a community classroom in La Azucena, a housing development built on the banks of the Santiago River. Living conditions are very difficult in this community and residents often go many months without tap water. In this community residents are beginning to build a public greenhouse that will provide the plants we need for our wetland water systems in other communities. We provide the water education and financial resources necessary to help search for solutions to their water issues.
This is a classroom setting in Casa Blanca where residents are learning about different types of water treatment.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
The communities in this region suffer from the effects of extreme water contamination in the Santiago River basin. State and outside agencies continue to build treatment plants that do not work. This project puts the power of water management into the hands of the people who suffer the financial and health consequences from not having access to clean water and living near a contaminated water source. By involving more communities this projects seeks to promote low cost, low tech water treatment where it's needed most.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Each community that we are working with has begun to specialize in distinct facets of water treatment and contamination reduction. In one community the women are making biodegradable soaps, in another they are building greenhouses to reproduce the plants that communities can use to treat wastewater, in another they are building our first small water utility, selling high quality water to neighboring communities. Our approach is to teach community members everything there is to know about water and then to bring communities together to share ideas. We provide each community with limited resources to build simple drinking water filters and experimental wetland treatment facilities. We will expand our impact by continuously involving more participants and bringing funds and education so that communities can successfully manage their own water and begin to improve the water quality in this region. We are working with UNESCO-IHE and the University of Geneva to ensure this project's success.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
So far we have conducted 125 water education classes in marginalized communities. We, along with our participants have built 15 water filters that are dedicated to helping low income households access safe drinking water. In Casa Blanca our filter is used to provide safe drinking water for the community dining facility which provides meals for low income residents. Currently we are building safe drinking water filters in five schools and medical clinics to ensure that children and vulnerable populations have access to safe water. One of our first impacts has been to show the viability of working directly with the community members as we have shown that there is tremendous interest in improving access to safe water and improving the environmental conditions. We have also built a strong network between government, local universities and community members. Finally we are also working internationally with UNESCO-IHE and the University of Geneva so that this project can make a difference.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
Currently we are supported by generous financing from Fundacion Gonzalo Rio Arronte, which awarded the project $3 million pesos ($150,000USD) in 2017. Our leadership is completely unpaid and we thus count on an additional $50,000 USD in in-kind contributions. Transportation support, projectors and educational materials are provided by CIESAS-OCCIDENTE, for an estimated value of $15,000 per year.
In the long term we are promoting the generation of economic activities that are specialized to the water related desires of each community. We see several routes for financial sustainability for the project, including the construction of our own for-profit water laboratory; the selling of low-cost aesthetically pleasing filters; and the eventual patenting of low cost water treatment technology.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Instead of bringing solutions to the communities and hoping that they adopt them, we bring knowledge, access to experts, and financial resources so that communities can take ownership of their own solutions. We work directly with communities and try to rescue traditional, low cost water treatment techniques. Instead of seeking out community representatives, we believe in working with as many individuals and communities as possible to share knowledge and alliances and tackle problems together.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
After spending 10 years working in this region investigating social and environmental conflicts a senior rural development researcher passed us an article about the development of the Danish wind mill industry. The model was based on citizen scientists, utilizing the advantage of having hundreds of "wind clubs" that were given knowledge and financial resources to both compete and collaborate to build new innovate motors and designs using concepts of "learning by doing" and field laboratories. Today Denmark leads the world in windmills. We saw this as a potential model to create a progress in water treatment for developing world contexts where high tech solutions are often too expensive and expert reliant. Our dream is to mobilize hundreds of communities with water education and to produce new low cost low tech water treatment designs that can restore our rivers.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Upon recommendation from others