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We are conducting land surveys of the dams, pumps, and fields of Agua Caliente in order to better understand how we can implement water tanks and drip irrigation. We are also recording the coordinates of any important landmarks and buildings, such as hospitals, so as to facilitate the health and safety of future trips to Agua Caliente. To get GPS and elevation readings, we will be using a Trimble back-pack GPS unit.

Using the Trimble GPS unit, we will record the location and elevation of the pumps at each dam. Then, following each individual pipe, we will take another location reading at the field where the pipe ends. This will generate a basic map of Agua Caliente that we can use to determine tank placement, pump range, and pipe length. We will also be recording which pump goes to which field, and who the owner of each field is. As a precaution, we will also write down each measurement in a fieldbook to ensure that our data is not lost in the event of Trimble malfunction.

Trip Plans

We will start the survey at Dam 1, which is located furthest upstream, and will end at Dam 5. At each dam we will:

1. Count the number of pumps at each dam

2. Label each pump with a number, starting at the left. Therefore, the left-most pump at Dam 1 will be '1'. The numbering will not restart for each dam, but will continue until the last dam. (ie. If there are 50 pumps, the right-most pump at Dam 5 will be number 50).

3. Record the coordinates and elevation of the pumps using the Trimble GPS. One measurement should suffice for each dam, but if for any reason it doesn't, two measurements should be taken on either side of the river at positions that are easily referenced.

4. Measure the diameter of each pump.

5. Record the above information in the field journal. Also, as to make for easy referencing, count the location of each pump from the left, restarting the numbering at each dam. Then, when we look at pictures of the pumps, we will be able to determine which pump is which more easily.

6. After a dam has been assessed, we will be guided into the fields and shown to the outlets of the pumps. We must collect the name of the farmer/family that owns the field/pump and the approximate size of the fields that they irrigate, along with crop type.

7. Measure the diameter of the outlet tube.

8. Record the coordinates and elevation of the outlets using the Trimble GPS unit. If there are multiple outlets on a line, record the coordinates and elevation for the highest and lowest outlets.

9. Record all the above information in the field journal, using pencil.

10. If Possible: Walk the perimeter of each field to determine its area, if the area of the field cannot be given.

11. If Possible: Walk along the water lines with the GPS to determine exactly how far the water travels and to estimate how much line they have. Keep in mind that if they implement drip irrigation, they want to reuse their current water lines.

12. After each day, someone will go through the data and type it into an online database or computer.

Water and Soil Quality Testing


After talking to Dr. Tim Lapara, we will test for pH and fecal coliforms at the four dams. We will also observe the water for any obvious problems, such as odor and pollution. Other than that, we must wait until the community raises legitimate concern about the water. Seeing as the water is not used for human consumption, we do not need to be too careful about its quality. The primary thought for this sub-group should be, “We will not overextend ourselves to include tasks which are not related to engineering and which will have negligible effect on the progress of the project.” If water quality becomes a detriment to the project, or if we think that our project will adversely affect water quality, we should conduct as few tests as possible to determine the problem and suggest a solution.

We will conduct basic tests of soil pH and soil quality (i.e. hardness, stability), especially around the dams and in the fields.

We will implement a course of action based on our findings, enabling us to correct chemical and organic imbalances that we may find in the water or soil.

We will design a system of recording information that is easily accessible and readily interpreted by other members of our group. This will enable useful progress to be made regarding the water and soil quality in Agua Caliente.


There has been one visit to Agua Caliente, from which limited data was recorded. As concern water quality, the data showed that the pH levels were well within normal levels except at dam #3, which read slightly higher. Based on this trip, the primary sources of pollution are as follows: People, and especially kids, swimming upstream. However, since the river is reported to be dangerous upstream, not many people have a reason to use that part of the river.

Animals that are kept near to the river. The first travel team reported seeing cows next to the river, and it is assumed that they drink directly from the stream. Because of this, we will test for biological material in the water.

Pollution by pesticides and fertilizers. Farmers usually take water away from the river when they fertilize their crops, but the travel team saw bottles of Calcioboro and Cosmosel (fertilizer) near the river. Because of this we will test for abnormal levels of these chemicals.

Due to high sulfur levels, the water in Agua Caliente is milky white in color.

Climate of Agua Caliente

Agua Caliente resides in the Temperate Zone of Guatemala, which extends from approximately 1000 m to 2000 m (3300 – 6600 ft) above sea level. Daytime temperatures rarely exceed 30degrees (85 F) Celsius and nights are pleasantly cool.

There are two seasons in Guatemala, the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. The Rainy Season begins mid-May and lasts until October or November, with a brief two-week period of dryness during July. On a typical day, there is sunshine in the morning and evening, with precipitation falling in the evening and at night. The Dry Season begins in November and lasts until May. There is usually some rainfall at the beginning of this season, but by the end there is usually a several month-long gap without any precipitation. From <>

The average temperature in Agua Caliente is 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) From <>

Average Rainfall in Guatemala City: January – 3mm February – 2 mm March – 7 mm April – 19 mm May – 141 mm June – 265 mm July – 211 mm August – 187 mm September – 57 mm October – 159 mm November – 23 mm December – 7 mm From <>

Water in Agua Caliente

The water in Agua Caliente comes from a mildly hot spring by the name of Patza. Drinking water comes from this stream and is distributed to all the members of the community everyday free of charge. However, some households that are at a high elevation do not receive water until late at night. This water, presumably intended for household use, is chlorinated. It is not possible to readily store this water, and they are dependent on a working distribution system to get water everyday. The community seems to know not to drink water directly from the stream, and that to do so would be dangerous.

Upstream of the community, the river is not frequently visited. Swimming and bathing is prohibited upstream (though that doesn't stop children all the time). Farm animals (ie cows, goats and sheep) are kept near to the river and drink directly from its stream. Water is also pumped directly from the river to irrigate local agriculture.

Downstream of the community, water is used for washing and bathing. The stream eventually goes over a waterfall and joins El Rio Moto.

Water Pollution is Agua Caliente

The community has not expressed concern about the water quality, other than the presence of a strange milky-white substance and bad odor. It was initially presumed that this substance was sulfur, due to the stream arising out of a hot spring. Since the only direct use of the stream is for agriculture, pesticide and fertilizer run-off will be of little consequence since it will go back to the fields. Human and animal pollution should raise little concern for the same reason. Another concern is pollution in the new tilapia pond, which being stagnant is likely to accrue algae over time.

As a note, pesticides that the farmers use include Ceranade, Cosmosel, Asufre, Biolan, Calcioboro, Biogib, Nugir, Karate, and Urea.

Weekly Tasks

Mar. 06 - Prepare Hach kit (batteries, DI water, jars, procedure sheets, directions) and assemble recording materials (paper, sheets, pens/pencils).

Mar. 13 - Travel Team: collect first round of water and soil data. Record in database.

Soil Testing

 - Test soil pH in agricultural fields and at select locations.
 - Determine if there is unsafe erosion around the dams.
 - Make a general description of the soil (vegetation, hardness)


 - Blackberries: create a document for the travel team that will outline the optimum blackberry
 - Corn: create a document for the travel team that will outline the optimum blackberry conditions.
 - Coffee: create a document for the travel team that will outline the optimum blackberry 


Trip Plans

Water Testing Directions: Once we get in country, our main task will be to test for the pH and fecal coliform content of the water at each dam location. To conduct these tests, we will be using testing strips that must be dipped into the water and compared with a color scale to determine the quantity of interest. Two strips per dam are all that is necessary, totaling 10 strips for the trip provided that no mistakes are made. We will start our tests at Dam 1, which is located furthest upstream, and will end at Dam 5, which is located furthest downstream. (Each dam lies in succession on the same river, so there should be no confusion about which dam is being tested.) The tests should take no more than 5 minutes to conduct, so total testing time should be less than half and hour. The majority of the time will be spent walking from dam to dam. The dams cover a span of several miles, so planned walking time should be about two hours. The total time taken for this project should be about 2.5 hours. Every measurement that we take will be recorded in a field journal as we are taking them. At the end of each day, someone will go through the journal and type it into an online or computer database. Field data will be recorded in pencil so as to reduce the effect of bleeding if the paper gets wet.


Fertilizers that farmers use include coffee pulp for blackberries and coffee. Processed cow manure, lime or ash for corn. The Hach Testing Kit (DS-890) was acquired from Adam Klecker of Brown and Caldwell. We will return it to him when we are done using it.

Current members: Isaac Murphy (subgroup leader -, Tim Garay.