400 residents sit on an extinct shield volcano that exhausted their water supply. Once a week, a water truck brings 1000 gallons; but according to villagers this is hardly enough.
The village is called Tamaula located in Guanajuato, Mexico where the government estimated it would cost around half a million dollars to drill a well for the people.
Once a year a team of students and faculty from Earth Science and Community Health Departments travel to different locations for two weeks to work on new projects or follow up ongoing projects to help students practice what they’ve learned in class.
In 2008, Joel Bradford, Mike Bunds and Steve Emerman guided students as they traveled to this village in hopes to educate the villagers on the options for getting access to more water. After estimating the cost of drilling at a little under $10,000, they began building a well for the village. “This well has exceeded expectations,” said Bunds. “Our preliminary analysis suggests that it will do two thousand gallons a day, which is ten times what the municipal truck does a week.”
Dr. Bunds and students will go back to finish the project this year. Currently, local high school students have been watching the well; testing the water and plumbing and measuring the water level to make sure the water doesn’t deplete. The entire cost of the project once finished will be around $20,000.
To qualify for a spot, students are required to be top performing science major undergraduates and good ambassadors for the school in foreign settings. Students are not required to come up with funding for the trips as they are paid for by the Earth Science and Community Health Departments.
The hardest thing for students to overcome is the living conditions. “The people are wonderful,” said Dr. Bunds, “but the fact that you are staying with people with different lifestyles and who don’t speak English, puts a burden and sometimes is hard to cope with.” One of Bunds favorite parts of these projects is making people happy and knowing that you are helping an entire village get things back into perspective making them feel good and worth the challenges they have to face while living there.