Safe Agua Water System

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

For residents of Chile’s campamentos (informal communities), running water is a luxury few can afford. Instead, families, and particularly women, expend tremendous energy, effort, and time carrying large containers of water to complete daily tasks—washing dishes and laundry, cooking, and cleaning. To resolve this, a team of faculty and students from the Designmatters program at Art Center College of Design collaborated with the Chilean NGO Un Techo para Mi País and local community members to develop a gravity-fed water system called Gota a Gota (“drop by drop”). Water collected in an elevated storage tank flows down a hose to indoor and outdoor faucets that have flexible nozzles and on/off handles. But to get water up to the elevated storage tank, the team included a foot pump, easy enough for women, children, and the elderly to operate, that moves water from a ground-level tank.

To conserve water and provide a dedicated kitchen workstation, another team developed the Relava sink for use at the indoor faucet, allowing women to wash dishes with more efficiency and dignity. It repurposes two affordable 16-liter plastic tubs as wash and rinse basins, held by a collapsible wire frame that hangs from the wall. For those in the campamentos, these solutions help relieve the burden of living without running water and improve their quality of life.

Penny Herscovitch, Dan Gottlieb, and Liliana Becerra, Designmatters, Art Center College of Design; Gota a Gota designers: Stella Hernandez, Nubia Mercado, and Diane Jie Wei. Relava designers: K. C. Cho, Jacqueline Black. Collaborators: Un Techo para Mi País Social Innovation Center, Campamento San José community. Santiago, Chile (prototype Pasadena, CA), 2008–present. Gota a Gota: plastic barrel, wood frame, hose, injection-molded plastic faucets, ABS plastic faucets, bicycle parts; Relava: powder-coated wire frame, plastic tubs, drain connector

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