On July 7, 2017 a group of nine WEFTA volunteers traveled from the arid southwest United States to the Altiplano of Bolivia. The nine volunteers were comprised of one Water Engineer, one Wastewater Engineer, two Engineers in Training (EIT)s, one Surveyor, one Water Resource Project Manager, along with three lay people from New Mexico, Utah and Texas.
The group traveled to El Alto/La Paz Bolivia with the following four goals.
- Visit previous WEFTA projects;
- Review existing and develop new wastewater treatment designs;
- Provide training on the Total Station Survey Equipment; and
- Obtain GPS points for previous WEFTA project locations.
Upon arriving at El Alto airport, which is located at an altitude of 13,325 feet above sea level, the highest international airport in the world, the WEFTA volunteers were greeted by a long-time Bolivian Partner, Suma Jayma. Suma Jayma is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) comprised of Braulio and Jaime Rojas and their families who are dedicated to serving marginal rural, semi-urban and urban areas of Bolivia most in need of assistance. Suma Jayma employees are Aymaran, indigenous from the Altiplano (high plains) of the Bolivian Andes, who know first-hand the challenges faced by their people.
Ten days after arriving in the Bolivian Altiplano, the WEFTA volunteers said their farewells to Braulio and Jaime Rojas and their families (Suma Jayma) with the following collective accomplishments.
- Documentation of the condition and functionality of previous WEFTA/Suma Jayma water system improvement projects. Documentation includes the impacts to health and overall well-being of community members, community demographics, GPS of the water source and water storage tank locations, and recommendations for on-going operation and maintenance of the water system.
- Met with the municipalities of Viacha and El Alto public works employees, and municipality engineers to review existing and new wastewater system designs. These meetings included trainings to improve the operation and maintenances procedures for the existing and future wastewater treatment facilities.
- Provided technical training to Suma Jayma staff on the Total Station Survey Equipment. This survey equipment and additional operations information will be utilized by Suma Jayma when they’re designing new projects.