Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 1

Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 1
The school in Cicau Village, Indonesia, that is playing host to this year's Community Plumbing Challenge project.

Editor’s Note: Randy Lorge is one of the coaches for the Community Plumbing Challenge team, which is currently in Indonesia doing a project for a school in a small village. It’s the third year for the program that aims to bring together plumbers and engineers from around the world to help regions that still lack basic sanitation and access to clean drinking water. Lorge will be blogging each day during the team’s time in Indonesia, detailing the work that they are doing.

This morning, I joined the organizing team for the Community Plumbing Challenge, the group responsible for the project we are undertaking over the next 10 days in Cicau Village, Indonesia. The Community Plumbing Challenge is funded by the International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization ( I was briefed on the project and worked to finalize material pickup. I’ll be one of the team leaders of a plumbing crew for the project.

Another part of my work here will be delivering training to the locals on plumbing systems, how they work, and the maintenance of them. We are planning on filming some basic how-to videos for future training resources as well. I’ve also been asked to deliver some training to plumbing instructors and students from local technical colleges on Indonesia’s newly adopted plumbing standard.

When we arrived at the school, classes were already in session. In all, there are approximately 300 students and 12 staff members who are at the school each day. The school and its plumbing system are hard to describe, but the best picture I can paint is this: Imagine two buildings, 24 feet long that run parallel to one other with about 10 feet between them. There are about six classrooms total. Currently at the end of each building, there are two squat toilets for the children and staff to use. The wastewater flows from the restrooms to a tank. My best guess right now is that the tank is a seepage pit of sorts.

Water is pumped from a makeshift dam to an elevated storage tank. There is little to no filtration of the water, and it is definitely not safe to drink.

The plans call for us to add two new squat toilets, a new water storage tank, and water distribution piping which will feed the bathrooms by gravity. There is currently a 3/4-inch galvanized water service which feeds a single tap on the property. However, that water service is only on for a limited time during the day, due to a limited freshwater supply and the need for the water by both the commercial and farming communities.

Our plan is to disconnect the current water supply, connect to the existing city water, and then fill the elevated storage tanks with a float valve. We have determined the water demand of the buildings, and the tanks are sized so that if the city system shut downs, there is still enough water to run the plumbing system for a couple days. A new hand-wash station will also be installed as well as all new underground waste pipe, a new septic tank, and a new drainfield.

Many of the other team members from Australia, the United States, and Singapore will be arriving today. Tomorrow, the entire team will visit the job site and be briefed on the work that will need to be performed. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time.


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