Field Learning in Central Asia

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Guys in the mountains

 

On Thursday we had our first opportunity to go to one of the villages we will be working in. For the work here there are two different types of projects we will focus on: gravity fed drinking water systems and hydraulic ram pumps used for irrigation projects. After 1.5 hours of driving towards the village, we came across a previously installed ram pump in action (if you want to know more about how ram pumps work just “YouTube” it!). It was neat to see one in real life after doing so much research on them before our trip. However the purpose of this outing was to visit a village about 2 hours away from the city to determine if the spring they have was sufficient to draw drinking water from. During our drive we picked up a man who was a doctor who needed a lift back to his village (the one we were travelling to!). In this culture it is not odd, especially in far out villages, for people to hitchhike around. The man we picked up was also the brother of a village elder, our contact in the village. When we got to the village they treated us to some snacks including non (bread), nuts, candy, and a bowl of chaca (a sour yogurt/soup). Since the village is in a mountain valley, the houses are more terraced and consequently moving around the village was quite the hike! The village leaders led us up through the village, then out away from the houses toward the first spring. The first spring was about a 1 kilometer hike away. When we got there we took a sample of the water for testing and did a rough measurement of the water flow using a bucket and a plastic tarp. This spring put out about 10 Liters every 5 seconds. This was measured a few times and averaged in order to give a rough idea of the water output that the pipe system will need to handle when installed. We then hiked for another half kilometer with a significantly greater incline. The second spring they brought us to had a few hazards, such as being in a flood zone where many rocks could seal it in a landslide, so we decided not to measure the water outflow. We did take a sample to see if the water was safe, but we do not plan on piping water from this location. With the attained samples we will test them to see if the water is safe to drink. Throughout the hike a GPS device was used to help determine how far we traveled and the corresponding elevation changes. The data from the GPS will help us to calculate how much water can be taken from the spring, appropriate pipe diameters, and the necessary length of pipe needed to transport the water down the mountain with tap stands throughout. This trip was a great first experience in both practically applying engineering concepts with on-field tools, as well as learning how relational these projects are in this culture.

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Outside Village

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Water flow measuring

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Hiking to the spring

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Village

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Travel to the village