Published on March 20, 2014
1 A RAYMOND CORPORATE NORTH AMERICA, Inc donated 4 solar well water pumps to the Corporación Ambiental La Pedregoza or La Pedregoza Environmental Corporation. Our NGO is a non-profit NGO operating the Reserva Natural La Pedregoza, a large conservation area located in the Orinoco River basin of Colombia, with dedicated native tree planting programs. The following photo collage tells some of the story of how the wells were perforated and the solar pumps installed. This magnificent gift allows La Pedregoza to irrigate the trees it plants during the dry season, and to supply clean water to wildlife and local residents. Both A Raymond and La Pedregoza work with Tree-Nation.com to plant trees around the planet for a better world! by Dexter Dombro The first challenge was shipping. A Raymond sent the large crate seen here in the back of a truck, weighing half a metric ton, by sea from the USA to the Caribbean port of Cartagena in Colombia. Once the crate cleared customs in Cartagena it was trucked to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, where it was delivered to the local river transport company that carries goods out to the Orinoco River basin region, in Colombia´s eastern areas. The local shipping company first trucked the crate to Puerto Gaitan, a river port city located on the Meta river, where the crate was then loaded on to a large river barge. The barge then carried the crate down the Meta River to where it meets the mighty Orinoco, which is also where the Orinoco River port city of Puerto Carreño is located. The crate was unloaded in Puerto Carreño and then taken by small Toyota truck over gravel and mud roads during the rainy season to the La Pedregoza Natural Reserve, a one-way trip of some 70 km or 43 miles that takes 2.5 hours, because of the difficult road conditions. The photo on the left is the crate finally making it to its destination at La Pedregoza. Needless to say everyone at La Pedregoza was very excited to get a first peek at the contents of the crate. A Raymond did such a great packing job that everything arrived in perfect condition, just like the day it was packed. One of the most excited was our Sikuani speaking indigenous beekeeper, seen here standing high to look inside the crate. He told us in a mix of Spanish and Sikuani that his bees needed water in the dry season, and how good it was going to be to have these wells. The rest of us couldn’t have agreed more.
2 Next we got busy and started to unpack the crate, taking a careful inventory of its contents. All the pieces were carefully stored inside our bodega or storage shed. While we were busy unpacking the crate, a local contractor was perforating the 4 wells we would need. This was done manually, with the help of a water pump that would blow the mud and soil out of the well hole while they slowly forced the drill stems one by one down the hole. In the photo on the right you can see the drill stem (far right) and the little water pump (far left), with the ditch that allows the water to carry the excavated mud away from the hole. Each well took two full days to dig. The wells are all 30 meters or 100 feet deep. We had to haul the water for the little pump in barrels to the well location, so this was a labour intensive operation. Below are photos of the drill stem and bits.
3 The well casing was put together on site using 4” PVC water pipes. To get a better seal in the joints the PVC pipe is preheated in flame, before two lengths are joined together. Once inserted in the hole that was drilled, some bags of fine gravel are dumped down the casing pipe to act as a filter in the bottom of the well. Once the casing touches the well bottom, it is sawn off at the top and embedded in a small concrete platform that holds it in place. A cap is placed on the top to keep lizards and other animals out. The contractor also uses the little well pump to test the well and to calculate flow rates (see below). Meanwhile, back at the camp, we were preparing the frames on which to mount the solar water pumps. This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, because we have to use hardwoods that are termite and humidity resistant. This usually means either Congrio (Acosmium nitens) or Cuyubí (Minquartia guianensis) are needed, both of which have specific densities of between .93 to .95 and will therefore last for up to 30 years in the soil. Others were busy making the post holes for the solar panel frame, next to the 4 well sites. All in all, everyone was kept very busy preparing for the solar well pump installations (see photos below).
4 With the post holes ready and in the ground, it was time to place the frames for the solar panels. The equipment donated by A Raymond is designed to be set up on the ground, but we decided it was better to elevate it for two reasons. The first is that we have a lot of large animals wandering around, such as cows, tapirs, giant anteaters and deer. It wouldn’t do to have them standing on the solar panels. Second, the electronic control box that operates the solar well pump could get flooded if it was too close to the ground, especially during sudden heavy rains in the wet season, so better to elevate the system. Next, we mounted the plastic supports on the wood frame, together with the metal support rods that hold the solar panel and the electronic control box in place. A Raymond sent us easy to follow and simple instructions. All the pieces for the solar well pumps fit together with no problems and were well marked. After the first pump assembly, we found that we were able to do each pump assembly in less than one hour. We added ballast to the support plastic, and once everything was mounted to our satisfaction we snapped the solar panel in place using some very cool snap on clips that came with the panel (see photos below). To the right is a photo of the solar panel mounted on the frame. We were now ready to connect the well pump and the electrical connections. A Raymond had supplied all the cables we needed for the job, so while one of our little helpers cooled off in the shade of the solar panel the rest of us laid out the cables and got ready to drop the well pump down into the well. The well pump is secured by a steel cable, and we were happy to have the frame to which we could tie the safety cable. All in all, anyone could install one of these solar well pump systems without needing any technical knowledge.
5 The well pump itself is a gorgeous stainless steel unit that is submerged into the well, with a ¾” water pipe rising out of the top. An insulated electrical cable sends power from the solar panel to the well pump. The little white canister mounted on the water pipe in the photo to the left is a sensor. If the water in the well drops below the sensor, it sends a signal to the control box to cut the power to the well pump, thereby protecting it from a dry well. The sensor has its own cable that connects to the control box, and of course as mentioned earlier a steel cable is attached to the pump so it can never be lost in the well. Once everything was attached and the well pump was inside the well, it was time to flip the switch and try it all out. There is one more sensor connected to the control box that has to be mounted inside the water tank one is filling. That sensor sends a signal saying when the tank is full, so that the well pump will shut off. This means that the system never wastes any water. To the right is a photo of Dexter Dombro, one of the founders of Reserva Natural La Pedregoza, reviewing the control box and getting ready to test the well pump. The system is remarkable for its ease of installation, ease of use and sophistication. To the left is a photo of the control box, which is inside a water proof box. These solar water well pumps are able to pump approximately 2,000 liters or 500 gallons of water a day. They have the option of connecting batteries, if one wanted to pump at night, but that really isn’t necessary for us, as daytime production is all we really need. The control box has LED lights that tell one which components are on or off, and a control for the speed of the well pump, as well as a timer if one wants to delay the start-up of the pump. Thank you so much to A Raymond for this amazing donation, on behalf of La Pedregoza and our trees!
6 Installing another well pump. We got so good at it that we could do the whole installation in less than 1 hour. Oscar Forero Azabache, our plantation administrator, securing the guide rails for the solar panel to the plastic base using a ratchet tool. “Hey, there is water! It works….” A Raymond says these solar well water pumps can produce up to 500 gallons or about 2,000 liters of water a day. Thank you A Raymond Corporate North America, Inc. © 2013 Corporación Ambiental La Pedregoza
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