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The idea for the family rainwater systems came from a few families in Santa Ana who lived too far away from the main community distribution line to receive piped water. They wondered if we could set up a simple individual solution with a 500 liter water tank on an elevated platform. We set up 6 of them as a trial in January 2008, then slowly began purchasing them for the rest of the families in Santa Ana. The system is simple: a gutter takes water from the roof to a covered, elevated 500 liter water tank. From there a hose with a tap on the end runs to the family’s kitchen. Some families chose to connect the water to the toilets and sinks in their government-built cinder-block latrines as well (seen in the photo).

In January of 2009, we helped the Santa Ana water board complete the installation process in a nearby community called La EncaƱada. Members of the Santa Ana water board did water quality testing, community workshops on water and health, and worked with the families in La EncaƱada over the course of one week to install family rainwater systems at all nine houses.

In December of 2009, Kendra accompanied the water board as they did a 1-year follow-up with house to house surveys, coliform testing, and community feedback session. All nine systems were in good working condition. Some gave extremely clean water quality results, others not so clean, probably due to differences in the family’s maintenance habits and whether or not they were storing water in another container. The house to house survey, compared to the same survey conducted before the water and heath workshops and installation of the water tanks, showed a drop in the average reported times that a child gets diarrhea from 6.9 to 1.9 times.

Other communities are taking notice and asking Santa Ana for help on their water issues. Santa Ana has helped two other communities successfully apply for funding from the local government to install family rainwater systems, and is now helping them with the installation.

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