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Drilling Activity at Honduras Aguan Well Under Way

  • Published
  • By Capt. David J. Murphy
  • 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Well-drilling activity by the 823rd Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., is on track to be complete this week at the well site in Honduras Aguan, Honduras, as of July 7, 2015.

The well, which is approximately 220 feet deep, is expected to produce between 35,000-45,000 gallons of clean drinking water a day once fully operational.

"This well will easily support anywhere from 4,500-6,000 people per day," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. James Gecoma, 823rd ERHS well-drilling operations superintendent.

Gecoma and his well-drilling team are conducting operations in Honduras as part of the NEW HORIZONS Honduras 2015 training exercise which involves multiple projects taking place throughout the region. Other projects include the construction of a two-classroom school house in Ocotes Alto, Honduras, emergency and operating room support in a local Trujillo Hospital and a recently-completed vector-borne disease surveillance study in Tocoa, Honduras.

"The water project is very important for my community," said Oscar Alfredo Gomez, Honduras Aguan patranado, "during the last few years the community has been suffering from a shortage of a supply of water due to erosion and deforestation.... and the growing of the community."

The village residents currently get their drinking water from either a well which can produce only a few hundred gallons of drinking water a day or a nearby river. These sources, though, are contaminated by run off and other pollutants and require purification before drinking. The drinking water from the new well, which reaches down into an untapped aquifer, will produce clean drinking water. 

"With a lot of run off from your houses, showering, washing clothes, all that will go through the leech fields down into the first aquifer," said Gecoma, "so that's why we're drilling to the second aquifer... the leeching system won't go to that depth, so that's untapped, crystal clear drinking water."

The well will also supplement the community during the dry season when water is scarce and the wet season when pipes can be damaged.

"In the past this non-governmental organization, International Waters, constructed a purification plant in the community," said Gomez, "this little well actually provides the community with drinkable water. [The new well] is really a necessity for the community, it is a priority ... during the dry season, and during the rainy season when the pipelines ... can be washed out and damaged rain."

Well-drilling is a 24-hour operation and has required the work of two shifts working 12 hours a piece. Because the activity takes place in the middle of the community the residents have become familiar with the day-to-day goings-on of the members.

"The Hondurans have shown a great interest in what we're doing," said Gecoma,"they always gather around the site outside the fence watching, taking pictures, really excited. We're able to talk a little bit with them and they're really excited about getting this clean drinking water which will be provided to every house in the village."

Once the aquifer is reached the well-drilling team will remove the steel used to drill the well and then insert a filter pack attached to a steel casing which will go down to the aquifer. Once established, a pump, motor and drop pipe will go inside the casing. Finally, the team will conduct tests to determine the amount of water that can be pumped form the well on an hourly and daily basis. If the resident pump too much, too quickly, it could cause the pump to burn out.

"I'm happy about the new well project," said Miguela Castro, Honduras Aguan resident and evangelical church pastor, "because in the Summers we have to go to other places to get water and we have to wash our clothes in the river. We just want to say thank you...and we're thankful you guys came here and gave us this blessing."

NEW HORIZONS was launched in the 1980s and is an annual joint humanitarian assistance exercise that U.S. Southern Command conducts with a partner nation in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. The exercise improves joint training readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.