I'd like to share with you what I've been doing at work for the past few days, because it's been quite eventful. And soon I promise to update you on my trip to Tarapoto (just need to find the time).
Two weeks ago (before I went to Tarapoto) we had a meeting at the municipality with a citizen's group from the south (where the urban expansion is) because they want water and waste water connections. We decided that we would visit them this week (on Tuesday) and have a follow-up meeting at the municipality next Tuesday (Dec. 6th). Our visit went well on Tuesday, and we told them that we would put together a preliminary budget so that when we are at the municipality we can talk about financing and who will cover what costs. So we started working on that (Juan and I). Well, Wednesday at 11am we got a call from the general manager of EMAPA saying that he wanted the information by 8am on Thursday so that he could look it over and start looking for financing from his end. Less than 24 hours! Ouf, so we kicked things into high gear. But then on Wednesday afternoon there was an emergency in the construction side: they are digging trenches to put in the plumbing for water and waste water somewhere in Huacho, and one of the electrical poles was not properly installed so it fell over and was leaning against a house. Luckily no one was injured and the electrical wires didn't break, but it could have been much more serious. So Juan spent most of Wednesday afternoon there (and I needed to talk to him to move on with my work) and he only got back at 5pm.
Well, from that point on we had to pull out all of the maps that we have of the southern region (and of course, they each have different information, so we were working with three physical and one digital maps), we had to estimate the number of land parcels, the number that are inhabited, estimate where each neighbourhood starts and ends, and then calculate how much water each household would consume (they are also projecting to build a market, a hospital and a government building in the area, so we had to include their water consumption). Then we had to look up other projects to see what the water availability is like in the region to estimate how much a well could provide (how much water in L/s). And then I felt like we were playing the role of a god: deciding which neighbourhoods to bring water to and which ones not to, based on their population, location, and if they are uphill or downhill of the site where we are projecting to build a new reservoir. In a very short amount of time we had to decide how many people we would connect to the water network, and which ones would be left behind. It was slightly uncomfortable to be making such big decisions (because we were discussing everything and debating back and forth, and I ultimately had quite a large part to play in the making of this decision). I didn't like having to decide who to give water to and who to leave out, and luckily we ended up working it out so that only one of the nearby communities won't be connected with this project, but we had to play with the numbers quite a bit before coming to this conclusion.
At 9 pm (we had now been working since 5 non-stop) the power went out (AGAIN - we had power outages on Sunday night for 1 hour and on Monday for 45 min during the work day). Juan decided to go home to pick up his car so that he could drive me home. Well, when he got back to the office the power was back on (it only went out for 20 minutes), so we worked through until 9:45, and then decided to go for dinner (he finished up some work at home later that night).
Thursday morning we had to put together the budget. So again, I went through former studies and project descriptions and we put together the budget which includes all of the studies that will need to be done for the project (hydrological, topographical, archaeological, environmental impact, etc.), buying the land required, the cost of the well and reservoir (after we calculated how big of a reservoir we would need), and then the cost of connecting over 2,000 households to the new network. Total cost: over 6.5 million nuevos soles (over 2.4 million Canadian dollars). So in 24 hours... Juan and I did all of these calculations, created new maps showing where we would provide water and waste water to, put together the entire budget, and I wrote up a summary of our proposal. And now I am splitting the project up into different stages, because we will look into building just the well, reservoir, and some of the household connections right now, and then connecting the other households at a later date.
Lots of work (I also worked through most of lunch on Thursday to get this done). But lots of learning, because it is very interesting. And lots of impact that we will have if the project goes through. Juan said that he is really enjoying planning out the major lines of big projects, and I am too. It is great to be working together because we can bounce ideas off each other and debate and negotiate and come to a consensus together. At least now that the bulk of the work is done I can work a bit more relaxed (and not crazy overtime) to get ready for next Tuesday's meeting.
I hope you're all having a great week, and happy December!
PS. You know how they have commercials in Canada around Christmastime to donate things or make sure that everyone has a great Christmas? Well in Huacho the radio commercials started on December 1st and there are many people talking, but it starts "we don't have water or electricity, and we hope that this Christmas season you don't forget us" and there is a little girl's voice who says "I hope that with your help I can smile this Christmas, so it can be the best Christmas ever". It is quite a bit more difficult to listen to than commercials in Canada... and it plays at every commercial break, too.