This year marked the completion of a major project at the Orphanage and school campus of International children’s Care in Poptun, Guatemala. This was made possible through the generous donation of a set of steel forms by Mt Baker Silo Company of Bellingham Washington. The kind folks at Mt Baker gave us the forms and just as important, allowed our volunteers to watch and learn as they used the techniques on construction projects here in Washington. This gave our crew first-hand experience with the planning and construction of these water storage reservoirs.
These are not simple structures. They are twenty feet in diameter and twenty feet high. Each contains 10,000 lbs of steel rebar and used more than 400 bags of concrete. They sit on bases 24 feet in diameter that are 14 in thick. The walls are 6 in thick. Each is fully enclosed without any possible avenue for the snakes, bats, bugs, and other critters that slither, crawl and fly everywhere in the jungle in that area. They are connected to the campus infrastructure by 4 in water lines. They have valves so they can be filled simultaneously or separately as needed. The tanks have a float that operates a solar-powered radio-controlled switch that controls the pump at the well as the water is used.
The construction techniques used were a bit more primitive than here in the States. There was no redi-mix truck to deliver concrete of just the correct specification. There were no engineers conducting slump tests as the concrete on the project was poured. The concrete was mixed in small gas powered mixers, usually 3 or 4 depending on how many we could get and how many were working at the time. There is no equipment rental store to visit if a piece of equipment gives out. You just make do with what you have and what you can make work. This can be critical. The slab and each pour of the walls must be continuous without any “dry joints” that will leak.
The workers were a combination of students and volunteers from Spokane. The Foreman was Lynn Bartholomew and the Construction Superintendent was our heavenly Father.
The project was completed without serious injury to any one and the tanks are serving their intended purpose of storing the clean water that comes from the earth as a result of the generous hearts of many people.