Guatape, Colombia

Biological Drink Water Treatment for Rural Acueducto with Micro-Cuenca

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Skills Needed

  • Conservation
  • Life Sciences
  • Water & Sanitation

Estimated workload



Project Execution (Typically 1 - 6 months)

Language Proficiencies

You must be able to speak English.
Additionally, speaking Spanish would be helpful.

When Can You Start?

You can start Flexible



Project Details

Description and Impact

This project proposes a pilot to add a bio-technological water treatment system to a typical rural drink water installation in Colombia that is currently functional and provides on average 1,000 M3 drinking water to 160+ families per month, and is administered by the local private cooperative “Acueducto Vereda El Tesoro”

Today, the water is captured and filtered mechanically, but not treated chemically or biologically before being distributed to households. Because of cattle grazing and possible wild animals in the region, the water has shown to be contaminated with E.Coli and other bacteria (ref. needed), and –although relatively clean- is not considered fully safe for consumption, especially for more vulnerable population (small children, pregnant women, elderly and sick).


  1. Field study of possible bacterial water treatment options, without the use of non-biodegradable chemicals
  2. Implementation of best solution taken into account current water quality (based on existing toxilogical reports), topography, available resources, sustainability and human capacity.

This project will positively impact the community in the following ways:

  1. The population in the vereda is growing relatively fast, and while 160 families depend on the water from the aquaducto today,  estimations are that this number will double over the next 5 years, which begs the need for more capacity and better quality.
  2. If successful, this project could be a model project for the region, where hundreds of similar setups can be found that are facing similar problems with water treatment today. If a cost-effective and clean solution for treatment is feasible, this may change the health outlook for thousands of Colombian families, especially children.
  3. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with hundreds of endemic bird species in this region alone that cannot be found elsewhere. However the environment is severely threatened by lack of good practices in industry, agriculture and domestic waste management. The common way to solve a problem is to use a lot of chemicals, which has lead to sever contamination and deletion of soils. By using a Bio-treatment instead of using chlorine, we can set a positive precedent by using natural cycle without contamination, while producing safe drinking water.

Other requirements

Our ideal candidate is a student or PhD in the field of Water & sanitation, biological engineering, with a strong interest in biological treatment.

We Provide These Local Benefits

Benefits Overview

  • Accommodations
  • Learning Opportunity
  • Good For Groups


You will stay in a very nice wooden cabin/house close to the project site and the village of Guatapé and you will have all the comfort and WifI.

Learning Opportunity

  • How to apply biological treatment in a real rural setting with diverse land use.
  • Learn about life and challenges for local farmers in rural Colombia
  • Improve your Spanish!

Additional Benefits

  • Access to really nice hikes (both walking and biking)
  • Access to nearby town, sites and culture.


This project accepts applications for virtual experteers.

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