Day 3, Ecuador 2020

We started our first full day at Puna island with breakfast at Mercedes’s house. She owns a restaurant and is cooking for us this entire trip! After a good meal we head off for the big day. Today we are visiting two local communities to interview them and collect water samples: Tabor y Concordia. We walk to the bus and head off!

We arrive near Tabor, but the road to gain direct access to the community is in bad condition from last night’s rain so we park the bus and hike to the community entrance. It is a quick hike (10 minutes) and once in Tabor we immediately notice the elevated water tank and the beautiful large tree with orange flowers in the center of the roughly 7 house community. 

We interview a handful of the houses and ask about how they store the water. What it tastes like, what it smells like, how they feel about the water and their supplier, education, family, societal structure, sanitation, and more. They are really friendly!!

Luisa has two reservoirs and when they empty, the well pump is run and it refills her reservoirs. She is overall happy with her water and said her most pressing needs are a road to Puna and better healthcare. To treat her water, Luisa only covered her indoor barrel with a piece of wood to keep the bugs out. Her outdoor tank has no cover and is featured below:

After we interviewed various houses, we went to look at the wellhead and storage tank and talk to the operations manager. The manager says the well has been active for 5 years and has shown no signs of running dry. The well is not pressurized, however, and for only being 5 years old the structure supporting the tank seemed to see considerable weathering. 

After we collect samples we begin to do some lab experiments and hang out with the local dogs. Because this is our first field lab of the trip, it takes a little while and after some work we take a break to eat guava from the orange tree. 

We said goodbye to Tabor and headed back into Puna to eat lunch and plan our trip to Concordia. Concordia is a little bit further away (20 minute drive), is larger than Tabor, and allegedly has worse water quality. We arrive late afternoon and the tide has already started rising. We talked to the community leader and many of the residents and then split up into groups to maximize our productivity.

There are 5 wells in Concordia and an experimental well. We collected samples from 3 of the 5 wells, the experimental well, and a house water reserve. Some of these wells were constructed by the elderly men in the village and have been in operation for over 30 years. 

We leave Concordia and head back to Puna for some sweets from the local bakery, dinner and a long night of lab work! Yay team!

– Julia Schultz