While Getchell experienced a bit of a language barrier while working in the French-speaking country, he said the biggest challenges are the limited availability of soil and hydrogeologic information, limited availability of qualified contractors and equipment for the project, site access and safety concerns, and the need to develop the project on a tight budget that depends upon donations.
Those challenges have driven Getchell’s resolve to make an impact on the residents who will benefit from the new water supply.
“It has been very rewarding to be able to use my hydrogeologic background to provide a viable and safe drinking water supply for a community that sorely needs one,” he said. “When I see the smiles on the faces of the local residents in response to their seeing and feeling the water coming out of the well pump, it makes me truly grateful for being given the opportunity to help them meet a very basic need for a better quality of life.”
He added that the opportunity has provided him with exposure to work with and learn from experts in other fields, including civil engineers, electrical engineers, and funding experts. “It has also been rewarding to be able to share my hydrogeologic experience and insight with junior staff who are interested in understanding how wells work and how groundwater can be used as a reliable drinking water supply source,” Getchell said.
Even when this project is completed, similar work will continue in the region that will require the participation of engineering volunteers. “The next phase of this project will involve the design and installation of a secondary wastewater treatment and subsurface disposal system,” Getchell said. Smaller-scale projects are also being considered for a nearby school.
To learn more about Partners 4 New Hope, visit the organization’s website at www.haitimissionbranchenord.org.
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