Water Supply Systems


Since its founding in 2000, the Suma Jayma team has led the planning, survey, design and construction phases of thirty rural community water supply systems in the Bolivian Altiplano, benefitting approximately ten thousand people with safe water in their homes. The majority of these are spring-fed, gravity-driven water supply systems. Wells with electric submersible pump-supplied systems with elevated tanks have also been implemented. Drip chlorination systems above the storage tanks, as shown in the picture above, are installed and drinking water committee members trained on proper dosing.

Study and final project design

Once an initial site visit has been made demonstrating the project’s social and technical viability, Suma Jayma undertakes the surveying, hydraulic calculations and drafting steps for completing the project design. Minimum water supply quantity per capita and operating pressure (maximum static head, minimum dynamic head) criteria are verified and incorporated into design.

It is key to meet the needs of all community members who wish to participate, to avoid unintentionally creating conditions for a divided community and resulting conflict. At times for distant and/or higher elevation households, this may mean installing family hand pumps or small individual gravity water systems for individual families in addition to the community water supply distribution system.

Organizing, planning and implementation

Suma Jayma initiates the project implementation with this phase, meeting with community leaders and benefiting families to outline the responsibilities of all those involved, the project schedule of activities and other minor aspects of the project.

Suma Jayma undertakes the project kick-off effort by identifying specifically the locations of spring catchment works, tanks and the distribution network, all according to the project’s final design study.

In accordance with the project schedule, Suma Jayma makes the purchase of cement, reinforcing steel, piping, formwork lumber, accessories and other materials, which do not exist in the project site, according to the quantities specified in the final design study. Members of the community drinking water committee are encouraged to accompany Suma Jayma staff during purchase and pick-up of construction materials.

Following the engineering specifications and construction drawings, Suma Jayma leads community members in excavating the spring catchment works and storage tank sites in a communal fashion, followed by construction of the new infrastructure.

Waterline trench excavation is initiated. Suma Jayma coordinates this work in a joint manner with community leaders, according to the project design’s routing and trench line dimensions. Minimum depths of trench are required for protection of the new piping to be installed. Suma Jayma guides the process of installation of the distribution network with the assistance of the community members, according to that specified in the final design project proposal. High quality PVC piping is the typical material of construction used for piping in Suma Jayma projects, from the main supply lines to the individual household domestic services.

Construction of household tapstands take place by Suma Jayma’s technicians with the participation of the community members. Tapstands are located in each family’s property after consulting the mothers of each family as to their preferred location.

Suma Jayma staff facilitate health, hygiene and plumbing workshops on specific dates during the project implementation. Whenever possible, Suma Jayma invites local medical professionals to lead health/hygiene workshops which helps improve the level of trust between the rural families and the medical clinic staff.

Project Conclusion and Reporting

No project is ever considered fully concluded in the Andes without an inauguration and community celebration. Suma Jayma respects and appreciates the traditions, customs and practices of the community and its celebrations.

A final project evaluation at the end of implementation is completed. Pictures of each benefiting family with their household tapstand are taken, along with GPS points, for project reporting purposes. An official, signed and stamped letter of acceptance by community leaders is prepared and provided to Suma Jayma during the inauguration. Suma Jayma in turn includes these in the final report for its funding partners.

Ongoing, periodic monitoring subsequent to the culmination of the project occurs to verify its sustainability.

Inauguration of a new community water supply system including a (decorated) tapstand for the local school