In March of 2017, during NC State’s spring break, seven students and one international development mentor from EWB-USA traveled to Guatemala for the first face-to-face contact with the community. They conducted assessments of the community’s current water supply and storage, and the main road leading into the community. The team aimed to find the optimal location for the water catchment system where it will collect an adequate supply of water for the community and be protected from possible contaminants. Measurements were taken so the team can decide on the placement of an updated storage tank, and eventually produce digital renderings of the project to show the community before the implementation trip. Lastly, the team assessed the condition of the main road with intent to either widen or otherwise improve the state of the road and ease travel within the community.Working in conjunction with our local partner NGO, the Centro Comunitario Educativo Pokomchi (CeCEP), to provide the community with water catchment systems will bring both tangible and intangible benefits to the residents. This water collection system will improve the quality and quantity of potable water throughout the duration of the year. Implementation of this system will also familiarize students with reproducible technology that can be implemented and improved in their homes and other regions.To strengthen this effort, we will maintain an open dialogue with the community about the operation and prevalent usage of such water systems while taking advantage of the in-region commitment and resources of CeCEP to provide ongoing support that continues beyond the duration of our trips.

Spanning ten days, the GWS team and the community of Caserio Panhux constructed 14 rainwater catchment systems on 14 households from August 11th until August 21st. During this time, the team stayed with generous host families located in San Cristbal, about a 50 minute drive through winding roads from Caserio Panhux. Daily, the team would arrive around 7 AM and begin a long day of construction. The community took part too, and would work with the team all day, often coming up with solutions better than their own. The systems themselves consisted of locally sourced materials, and included running gutters along the roofs of the houses and having those feed into a 2500 L storage tank resting on a square base of wood, dirt, and gravel, with sets of filters in between. In part, the systems seemed like a simple idea, but many challenges arose and the team had to adapt quickly and effectively. In the end, the GWS team and community were able to overcome all challenges, such as late deliveries and dead drill batteries, to reach their goal on completing 14 systems. The implementation trip culminated with a thank you feast organized by the community of Caserio Panhux, which included music, food, and laughs with everyone. The team returned on the evening of August 21st, just before a new semester of classes at NC State.

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In December 2018, the team embarked on their second implementation trip to further their efforts in constructing rainwater catchment systems. With unwavering determination and a strong sense of community, they managed to construct an additional 20 systems, bringing the total to an impressive 34.

Building upon the lessons learned from the previous trip, the team refined their approach to ensure even greater effectiveness and user-friendliness. As a result, new first flush systems were implemented on both the current 20 houses and the 14 houses from the previous trip. These first flush systems play a vital role in ensuring the purity of the collected rainwater, as they help to filter out any debris or impurities that may be present.

One notable aspect of the trip was the team’s commitment to thorough preparation. They visited the houses that would receive systems on the next trip, taking the time to understand their unique requirements and circumstances. This preparatory visit enabled the team to tailor their approach and ensure that every household would receive a rainwater catchment system that precisely met their needs.

The impact of these efforts cannot be overstated. The rainwater catchment systems have provided a reliable source of water for the community, especially during the dry winter months when water scarcity is particularly acute. With their enhanced capacity, the systems have contributed significantly to the overall well-being and resilience of the community.

The 2018 winter implementation trip truly exemplified the power of collective action. With each rainwater catchment system constructed, the team moved one step closer to their goal of improving access to clean water for all. Their dedication, resourcefulness, and unwavering commitment have left an indelible mark on the community, offering hope for a brighter and more sustainable future.

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The August 2019 implementation trip proved to be a significant step forward in our mission to provide clean and accessible water to communities in need. This time, an impressive total of 16 additional rainwater catchment systems were successfully installed, bringing us closer to our goal of ensuring a sustainable water supply for all.

During this trip, our dedicated team encountered a new challenge as nine of the homes designated to receive the systems had plant roofs. Adapting quickly to these circumstances, we made the necessary adjustments and installed the systems on side structures with lamina roofs. By doing so, we ensured that every member of the community had equal access to the life-giving resource of clean water.

But our work didn’t stop at the installation. We understand the importance of regularly evaluating the effectiveness and impact of our projects. Thus, we took the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with the women whose families had received rainwater catchment systems on the previous implementation trips. These discussions provided us with invaluable insights into the practicality, efficiency, and overall impact of these systems on their daily lives.

These conversations also served as a platform for us to identify areas for improvement and modifications. It became evident that certain adjustments must be made to the existing systems during our final implementation trip. We discovered the need for additional gutter supports in some cases, and in others, the use of different brackets to enhance the durability and longevity of the systems. By addressing these issues proactively, we ensure that each system will continue to function optimally and benefit the community long after our project’s completion.

The collective efforts of our dedicated team, the gracious support of our donors, and the resilience of the communities we serve make these implementation trips a resounding success. It is through these collaborative endeavors that we are building a future where clean water is not a luxury, but a fundamental right for all.


The original scope of work for the project is to design and implement rainwater catchment systems on 62 facilities, including the school and two churches in Caserio Panhux, Guatemala. However, there has been additional need identified in the community and this trip built 10 rainwater catchment systems in the spring of 2022.  It was revealed that leaks in the gutter connections were the main culprit, leading to a lower rainwater catchment efficiency. These leaks are able to be fixed using extra gutter supports and sealant. Some tanks were additionally having issues with water storage quantities due to leaks in the tank’s valve. The faulty tank valves were fixed by emptying the tank and replacing the faulty valve with a new, higher-quality part. Additionally, issues with the gutter hangers from the first implementation trip were mentioned. With heavy rainfall, the gutters were occasionally too low or not supported enough, and then either fell out of the hangers or didn’t collect any water at all. Temporary solutions were made by the community members, but this is something that needs to be further investigated. The initial notification of these issues was provided through continued communication with in-country NGO (CeCEP). This way of communication allowed us to assess the issue as a team and to have a solution ready for when we return to Guatemala.

Fall 2022 Monitoring Trip

The monitoring trip of 2022 proved to be an invaluable endeavor, as it allowed the team to conduct comprehensive surveys of the community and assess the effectiveness of the current systems in place. Extensive water quality tests were carried out, with a primary goal of ensuring that the water met the necessary standards for consumption and domestic use. However, the results revealed that the water quality fell short of the desired standard, requiring further investigation and potential modifications to the existing systems.

The engagement and cooperation of the community played a pivotal role in the success of the monitoring trip. The residents generously shared their insights, concerns, and experiences, providing a rich tapestry of information that guided the team’s decision-making process. This collaborative approach fostered a sense of unity and shared responsibility for the well-being of the community, as everyone recognized the need for continuous improvement in the water infrastructure.

Based on the feedback received, it became evident that certain systems within the school premises, where the monitoring systems were installed, required immediate attention. These findings served as a compelling justification for implementing a secondary monitoring trip, which would facilitate the necessary modifications and ensure that the community’s needs were met in the most effective way possible.

Efforts are currently underway to reevaluate the existing water management systems, considering aspects such as filtration mechanisms, distribution channels, and maintenance protocols. The aim is to enhance water quality, optimize resource allocation, and address any inefficiencies or shortcomings that were identified during the monitoring trip.

Furthermore, the team has also recognized the importance of educating the community about best practices for water usage and conservation. Through workshops, seminars, and public awareness campaigns, they intend to empower residents with the knowledge and tools to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the local water supply.

In conclusion, the monitoring trip of 2022 yielded crucial insights and paved the way for a comprehensive approach to improving water quality and infrastructure within the community. By prioritizing collaboration, ongoing evaluation, and educational initiatives, the team hopes to create a lasting positive impact on the lives of the residents, thereby establishing a solid foundation for a healthier and more prosperous future.

The team has an exciting plan in the pipeline for the upcoming months. In December 2023, they will embark on a comprehensive monitoring trip to further enhance the existing systems. This undertaking will involve a series of modifications and improvements based on the valuable feedback received from the community.

During the trip, the team will conduct a thorough survey to gather insights from the community members who have already benefitted from the rainwater catchment systems. These interactions will provide critical information about the effectiveness of the systems and any areas that may require further attention.

In addition to the community survey, extensive monitoring of the current systems will take place. This will entail rigorous water quality testing to evaluate the suitability of the water exiting the tanks for various potable uses. The aim is to ensure that the installed systems reliably provide clean and safe water to fulfill the needs of the community.

Moreover, interviews will be conducted with the owners of the latest systems. These interviews will serve as an opportunity to gather firsthand experiences and testimonials about the impact and benefits of rainwater catchment systems. The team is eager to hear directly from the beneficiaries, as their feedback is essential for ongoing improvement and refinement of the project.

The final phase of the monitoring trip will involve assessing the overall water quality provided by the existing systems. By conducting comprehensive water quality testing at various stages of the rainwater catchment process, the team will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the systems in improving the water quality and ensuring its safety.

With all these activities planned, the team is optimistic that this project will culminate successfully after the monitoring trip. The knowledge gained from this last phase will not only contribute to the closure of this project but also provide valuable insights for future endeavors aimed at supporting communities with sustainable water solutions.