New source of water harvesting in Quelhue

Sustainable solutions is the topic of conversation in the small community of Quelhue, a Mapuche hamlet in Pucón.

For one individual especially, Doña Rosario, her life has changed immeasurably with a water collection plant. A well-known figure in the community, guests visit Doña Rosario in her traditional house ‘ruka’ and gain deep insight into her ancient culture.

Identifying the problem

Many hands make water flow and thanks to the &Beyond Vira Vira management team, one generous guest donation from Philip Bangerter,  the REIS Foundation in Santiago, Rising Sun, and the community, this conservation initiative provides much needed water that allows for an agricultural income.

Water flows freely in the region but the challenge was how to access it. Doña Rosario made known her struggles, that in the dry summer months, where water was scare, she was unable to nourish her plants, trees and organic garden. This organic produce sustained her family as it was sold at the local market and was a source of income.

Initiating the process

There was great excitement around this new infrastructure and Doña Rosario’s husband and sons got to work as soon as possible. They were eager to be involved with the construction and in a week had already built a tower that would later support solar panels, and the underground water tank where water would be collected.

A solar panel company in Santiago, Rising Sun very generously donated brand new solar panels to the family in order to help generate clean electricity for the water pump.

The plant was built in just under two months and was a spectacular example of team work and people coming together for the greater good.

Full irrigation system

On the rooftop of the house and ruka, gutters have been installed to collect rain water. This water then flows through pipes with a gentle gradient directly to a water tank buried underground.

An additional inclined structure was built as a support for solar panels that face north to the sun, next to the water tank. A small tower of less than two meters high was built as a support for an additional water tank.

A water pump was then installed on the ground to help pump the water from the underground tank to the elevated tank, from which it will then be sent by natural gravity process to a new irrigation system installed within the garden.

Looking forward

Endeavouring to help others in the community, the hope is to raise funds to implement more water plants. Guests visiting Doña Rosario will learn about the project and students in the area will learn about sustainable solutions to combat increasing environmental challenges.

This uplifting project has most certainly changed the livelihood of a family and the greater good of a community and we look forward to many more sustainable water solutions.

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