Formed and poured first valve box for main line junctions

Martin, the lead builder, wanted to make examples of all the valve box types. He’s already done one for the air relief valve (which will be the same for the blow out valves). So we still need to do one for the tap stand meters and shut off valves. This was in progress when our first group left this morning to go to the airport.

Trowel finished Well Support Building floor and began inspecting trench depth and width

After we met with the water committee (CAPS) and supervising builder, we helped inspect the excavated trenches to ensure that they met the width and depth specification. They made measuring fixtures which allowed them to quickly check the excavated trenches.

allow them to rapidly check both dimensions without taking out a tape measure.

Great progress on trenching for El Llanito Nicaragua water supply

We’ve been very pleased at the progress on trenching for the water supply project. We are concerned that the rocky soil would make this very difficult work, and in places that is the case. However in other places the teams are doing really well and making rapid progress.

The water committee or (CAPS) has organized the work into 25 meter segments with assigned individual volunteers.

Hasta LOS ninos, esta trabajando!

There are some very rocky places, we’re having to detour around.

But overall, it has gone much quicker than anticipated. The community engagement and work is extraordinary.

Great start on El Llanito, Nicaragua water supply project

We are here, doing well. Community is going faster than we anticipated. 167 people came to kickoff meeting that CAPS (legally recognized water committee) set agenda for and ran very effectively.

We broke ground on the well support building foundation excavation and for the two pressure break tanks. We staked and marked the route for the pipeline. 

Today over 100 people started at 6 AM excavating for the pipeline.

Forms for pressure break tanks were constructed.

Here are a few photos.

On our way to Nicaragua

We’re on the Avianca flight from SFO, with stop in San Salvador, due into Managua a little after 9am.

We will have two teams of six people, traveling for about a week, with couple days overlap, returning 18. January, to get started on this project. Our travel teams will include UC Berkeley students who are participating in the project.

I am also bringing water filters from Darrell Ward, a Rotarian from Oklahoma. He’s been working with Alcance And the Rotary Club of Masaya to distribute them to communities who need them

I’m also bringing Foldscopes for a person at the University of Nicaragua.

We will have two teams of six people, traveling for about a week, with couple days overlap, returning 18 January, to get started on this project. Our travel teams will include UC Berkeley students who are participating in the project.

In addition to constructing a small well-support building, we will be training and documenting proficiency of community members to trench, install pipe, pressure test, backfill, and construct other elements of the system including pressure break tanks, and tap stands.

They will continue on these tasks after we leave. In this visit, the team and community will be laying out and flagging the ~3.5 km distribution system

We then plan to return in the March timeframe to complete and commission the system.

Here is link to the El Llanito project update presentation to the August General Chapter meeting:

Some of the photos and the diagram of the distribution system give a sense of the place. these in Nicaragua

About $15k worth of materials have been purchased, and deliveries are under way.

Please consider contributing to our El Llanito, Nicaragua water supply project

My friend and engineering lead for our El Llanito, Nicaragua water supply project, Phil Bowman, shared the following request for contributions to help offset some of the travel costs for our UC Berkeley student team members as well as some of our equipment and material costs. Thanks Phil!
I’m also inviting you to contribute to this project which will change the lives of members of this community, mostly the women and girls who pump water by hand and carry it from the well to their homes. Your contribution will subsidize student travel, fund a tap stand, a few meters of pipeline or something else we ned to complete the project. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Your donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law (Tax ID: 59-3821454).

Please click here to help:

Phil and I and the rest of the team will be going to El Llanito right after Christmas to help install what you’re funding!  

Have safe and happy holidays,


***From: Phil Bowman <>
Subject: Contribute to a Water Project in Nicaragua?
Date: December 11, 2019 at 4:25:19 PM PST
To: list

Dear Friends and Family,

Since I retired 3 years ago, I have become very involved with Engineers without Borders. (Yes, this is like Doctors without Borders, but we do engineering projects in developing countries like water systems, composting latrines, solar systems and bridges.)At the moment, I’m the engineering lead for a clean water system for a small village in Nicaragua called El Llanito. El Llanito is a community of about 1300 people whose only water source is a single hand-pumped well. Some families have to walk over a mile each way with their water cans and wait their turn to pump their daily water. The average annual household income is about $1000.

Our project will install an electric pump, two large storage tanks, 4.5 km of pipe and 49 tap stands distributed around the community to bring clean water close to each home.

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading down to the community along with other professionals plus six UC Berkeley students to build the first phase of this project. We plan to finish the project on our second trip in the spring.

The professional engineers are paying their own travel expenses, but I’m writing today to solicit contributions to help offset some of the travel costs for the UC Berkeley students.  Ticket prices are over $1000 each and we plan a second trip in the spring.

In addition, although the Rotary Club of Livermore has made a generous donation which will cover most material costs, current funding will not cover everything.  Here are some example cost estimates:

4500 meters of pipeline, fittings and valves =              $24,000 (~$5 per meter)

49 tap stands =                                                              $3,600 ($74 each)

2 pressure break tanks =                                               $1,200 ($600 each)

1 concrete block pump house =                                    $3,300

Misc. tools and supplies =                                             $1,400

Electric pump and installation =                                    $4,000

2 22,000-liter storage tanks =                                        $11,500 ($5,750 each)

Student travel costs ($1000 x 6 students x 2 trips) =    $12,000 ($1,000 per ticket) 

If you would like to contribute to this life-changing project, whether subsidizing student travel, funding a tap stand, a few meters of pipeline or something else, any donation is greatly appreciated.

Please click here to help:

Your donations are tax deductible and I’ll be going to El Llanito myself to help install what you’re funding!  

Thank you,

Phil Bowman

Photo below is the local community gathering to elect members to a Water Committee to coordinate with our water system installation.  The community is very excited to get this new water system.

Whale watching, Moss Landing

Kathy and I really enjoyed our whale watching trip, out of Moss Landing, Saturday 10/26/19.

We had lunch at the Haute Enchilada Cafe before the 2:30 whale watching trip. Very interesting menu and really good.

After lunch we walked back to catch the boat and watch whales


After we docked a fellow passenger shared a few of her photos with me.

Photo by Toni Domingo

Video of whale watching

After, Kathy and I enjoyed supper at Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette. No reservations available till late, so ate at bar. So tired and hungry, I forgot to take any pictures of food. Wonderful staff, service, and food.

Later in review, I wrote: Our supper at Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette was terrific. There were no reservations till later, so we ate at the bar near the grill and oyster area, which was fun to watch. Great staff – conversational, knowledgeable about the menu choices; attentive, friendly service, and the food was terrific. Baron Point oysters on the half-shell and grilled, Kathy had black cod, I had salmon – both were very different, intriguing and yummy; then we had coffees with pavlova – a baked meringue with Cabernet sorbet, berries and a really nice sauce. All just terrific.