The lack of adequate, clean water is a challenge that conventional mechanized water treatment technologies fail to address in smaller cities and towns in Latin America. In response to this crisis, Monroe Weber-Shirk founded AguaClara at Cornell University in 2005. “The need for resilient, climate-friendly water treatment technologies is mind-boggling, with perhaps 3 billion people who don’t have access to reliable and safe water on tap,” Weber-Shirk stated. A multi-disciplinary program at Cornell, AguaClara designs water systems that are committed to long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Currently, AguaClara’s water treatment plants serve over 50,000 people.
Thanks to the efforts of the Honduran organization, Agua Para el Pueblo, the U.S. nonprofit organization, Water For People, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation,construction began in Nicaragua on August 1st in La Concordia. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is financing the technology transfer and construction, while Water For People is financing improvements to the water transmission line from the source to La Concordia’s plant. Civil engineers from Agua Para el Pueblo designed the facility and will train Nicaraguan counterparts on plant design, construction, and operation - adding another level of sustainability to the project.
Weber-Shirk has high hopes for AguaClara and its impact globally although he has “learned that it requires years of developing relationships and building consensus.” However, progress is on the horizon; AguaClara, LLC is in the process of establishing a New York State 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and “AguaClara Reach” will build alliance organizations to help spread the word about AguaClara’s technologies and its mission.