Peace Corps Rainwater Harvesting Project

By Ryan Browning

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Dominican Republic ’11-’13


Mission Accomplished

After 3 solid months of construction, the community of Agua de Luis is proud to announce the successful conclusion of our Rainwater Storage Tank Project!

Your generous donations, along with the collaborative efforts of Project Las Americasand The College of William & Mary, made this project a reality for 8 Dominican families.

Before this project, the families were forced to collect their rainwater in 55 gallon drums and/or purchase 5 gallon potable water jugs.  They now have the opportunity to store up to 10,000 liters of rainwater that can be used for human consumption as well as bathing, cleaning and agricultural purposes.

This truly could not have been possible without your assistance.  For that we say “Gracias“.

Project Summary

With 1.5 years of preparation under our belts and the support received from your contributions, the project went off with minimal setbacks.  Construction work for each individual tank began on a Monday and concluded that Friday.  5 days.  No more.  No less.

One week later, after the cement had sufficient time to cure, each tank was cleaned out of all debris and filled to the brim with clean drinking water.  Tanks were attached to a rainwater catchment system comprised of PVC pipes to ensure that all future rainfall will be collected.


Keeping in mind the continued demand for additional rainwater storage projects of this nature in Agua de Luis as well as in surrounding communities, a local mason (along with his group of skilled laborers) were extensively trained on all phases of construction.

When Peace Corps related work/responsibilities drew me away from the community, Ada Hernández (the project’s lead mason and now ferrocement expert) took charge and continued on schedule without my direct supervision.

Community members quickly took notice of the quality work being done.  Upon completing my service early September, Ada had been approached by 4 families that were monetarily able to purchase materials and construct their own rainwater storage tanks.  Not only will additional families be able to take advantage of this appropriate technology, but Ada will be able to utilize his new skill set as a means of finacially providing for his family.

Sustainability indeed.

And now for your viewing pleasure, a glimpse at the construction process:

Day 1

Rebar enforced floor with cleanout/overflow pipe

Assembling the wall

Ada laying down a mix of cement

Day 2

Wrapping a tarp around wall to provide rigidity & support

The muchachos (“boys”) mixing cement

Jeremia applying the first of 7 layers

Day 3

Masons plastering on outside cement coat

Sika.  Chemical used in cement mixes to prevent water leakage

Raul working on inside layers

Day 4

The final coat: a thin Sika/cement combo layer used to fill in small holes

Ada constructing wooden support structure for roof

Cleanout/overflow. Tank cannot be filled above this PVC tee

Day 5

Pouring the cone-shaped roof

Raul applying the final touches

¡Terminamos!  We finished!

Peace Corps Volunteer Ellen Abrams and myself supervise students from The College of William & Mary as well as Dominican masons Ada and Jeremia.

The finished product.  Storage tank attached to rainwater catchment system

The Families

My next door neighbors.  Paco & Rosa with their kids Yendri, Yamilex, Melkis, Rosemely and neighbor Jasiel (orange shirt).  My dog Nevada also made an appearance!

Gueso and her grandaughter Emely.  Ada and I posing with them for good measure.

Christino & Somaily with their two sons (never could remember their names!)

Celina and I.  Unfortunately her family was out of town that day (husband, daughter and 2 sons)

Too many family connections to explain in one caption.  Ada, Morena, Yudy, Emely and Ada’s three daughters (the youngest 3)

Ada, his wife Yulisa and their three daughters.

Ada and I in front of his very own tank, which was the 8th and final cistern we constructed together.  Couldn’t have accomplished anything without his help (and yes. we have flow.)

Unfortunately we were unable to photograph two of the families.

Once again THANK YOU for your much needed and much appreciated donations.  Many lives have been touched and the impacts from this project will be felt by generations to come.

Vaya con Dios

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