Arizona Navajo Project

Solar Power & Clean Water Access

Current Project Leads

Anna Philipp, annaephilipp@gmail.com

Richard Trujeque, richardtrujeque@g.ucla.edu

About the Project

The EWB at UCLA Navajo Water Project began in 2016 with the goal of creating an off-grid running water system to bring clean running water to individual homes in the Navajo Nation. The location of the project poses a unique challenge due to the fact that the houses on the reservation are very far apart and lack on-grid power and access to clean groundwater. Many residents of the reservation must store water in tanks outside their homes, siphon it by hand, and then carry it inside with buckets. This is the source of two problems: it is time consuming and it places a physical burden on the many elderly residents that are forced to haul in the water themselves. 

So far, we have successfully completed three water systems bringing running water to multiple families on the reservation that haven’t had it before. The systems consist of a large buried tank, underground PVC piping, a pump for water distribution, and a solar panel power system for providing power to the pump. Depending on the desires of each family, the system can be altered to supply water to a shower.

Our team is split into three technical groups: Civil Design, Power, and Drafting. The Civil Design Team focuses on all of pipes involved in the system and the pump. They ensure that the pump will be powerful enough to draw water out of the buried tank into the house and to the faucet. They also design the greywater system to take the water back out of the house. The Power Team ensures that the solar panel chosen produces enough power to run the pump. The Drafting team creates a scale design of the entire system using AutoCAD. 

Our project team normally travels out to the reservation two times per year, once for assessment and once for implementation. During the assessment trip (usually occurring during winter break), our team meets with the family for the first time to ensure that the system we design meets all of their needs and takes all the measurements of the house and land that will be needed for said design. During the implementation trip (usually occurring during summer break), we head back to the reservation to construct our system. Our team of students dig all the trenches for the tank and pipes, place the solar panel, run all the wires, connect all the pipes, and install the pump and sink.

 

We hope that you are interested in joining our team so we can continue our project for years to come. Join our Slack to stay up to date with our workdays and events.

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