Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 5

Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 5

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.

Today was a very successful day on the site even though the temperature reached the mid-90s again and the humidity was out of this world. While there is plenty of water and nutrition for all the volunteers, dehydration is always a concern. It is so easy to get caught up in this type of work and forget to take care of yourself by simply drinking water.

The team broke up into groups today and concentrated on the following areas: The drainfield, the underground piping to the septic tank, setting the squat toilets, masonry work on the columns for the overhang that will cover the hand-wash station, pouring footings for the water tank stands, building the elevated platform for the water tanks, and finally pouring concrete floors and stoops for the bathrooms.

My team was in charge of the underground piping for the bathrooms and the piping to the septic tank, as well as concrete mixing for the floors. For the piping material we used PVC. Imagine SDR 35 weight PVC but thinner. Not the greatest quality but it’s what we had to work with. The joints were glued and the fittings were of much better quality than the pipe. The soil is clay and it makes for a long day digging excavations by hand. The work was being done inside the four bathrooms — 3.5 by 6.5 feet — where the floors have been completely removed. It was very tight quarters to work in while trying to swing a pick axe or use a shovel.

The squat toilets were donated by Toto, a Japanese company that most of us are probably familiar with. There are no flushing mechanisms for the toilets. The culture requires that the toilet be slightly elevated above the floor of the bathroom. An 8-inch stoop is being provided to achieve this. The user steps up on the stoop and squats over the toilet to use it and then dumps a bucket of water down the drain to flush.

Part of the reason we are here is to ensure that the children feel comfortable using the bathrooms and to hopefully show them why sanitation is so important to their health. One of the next phases of the project will be to work with the kids on the importance of hand-washing. 


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