San Pedro Nuevo is a small community situated in a geothermal active area close to the Maribios volcanic range in Nicaragua. The geothermal field naturally produces saline fluids that contain a very high concentration of arsenic. These fluids mix with the ground water and affect the drinking water of the community in this area. Arsenic is an important drinking-water contaminant: Drinking water rich in arsenic over a long period leads to arsenic poisoning. This results in severe illnesses such as skin cancer, cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung or diseases of the blood vessels of legs and feet.
The arsenic concentration in San Pedro Nuevo exceeded the limit set out by the World Health Organization (10 µg/l) up to twice. However, there was another challenge: The only access to drinking water in the community was by open, unprotected hand-dug wells, which meant a significant risk of water-borne disease. Also, these wells were very deep and required a big effort to lift water.
In collaboration with Nuevas Esperanzas the Clean Water foundation of GF enabled the development of a local clean water source for the community of San Pedro Nuevo as well as a pump house and a header tank. This means a real improvement in quality of life for the 123 people living in San Pedro Nuevo. Furthermore, for the sustainable and long-term maintenance of the water system, a water committee has been established in the community. In March 2017, after three months of drilling, the new well was successfully completed with a total depth of 130m and a water column of 25m.The testing of water quality showed that the water was completely arsenic free.
Nuevas Esperanzas will continue to manage the technical side of the project until the system is fully operational as well as providing training to the water committee.