Luis Mendieta and Aaron Thomas with Engineers Without Borders Talk to the Club
Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club received an update from Luis Mendieta and Aaron Thomas with the University of Florida Chapter of Engineers Without Borders on the water project the club partially funded earlier this year. Mendieta and Thomas, engineering students at UF, reported that construction had begun on a one-mile irrigation channel in Aripalca, a community of 120 families living in a remote region of the Bolivian Andes. They said the residents of Aripalca are farmers who rely on water from the Vitichi River for their crops – the primary source of food and income for the village. The initial plan had been to shore up and repair the existing irrigation channel bringing water from the river to Aripalca’s fields. However, the plan changed when the original concrete channel was washed away during massive flooding in February. In May, Mendieta, Thomas and a team of eight UF engineering students and one professor traveled to Aripalca to begin construction on a new irrigation line. The crew, with help from some 20 villagers, built a sedimentation tank and began laying the first 200 meters of six-inch PVC pipe. They said phase two of the project, which should begin in the spring of 2015, includes the installation of the remainder of the pipeline as well as development of a method for securing and covering the pipes to prevent future damage. At the end of their report, Mendieta and Thomas presented Club President Dr. David Page and Foundation Chair Dana McCoy with a plaque in appreciation of the club’s financial support.