engineers without borders / ucla chapter
2017 giving while living regional grant: $1,300

Woodard & Curran Foundation’s $1,300 grant made it possible for EWB/UCLA students to travel to Arizona to create an off-grid running water system to bring clean running water to individual homes on the Navajo reservation. The Foundation grant also helped pay for the equipment needed to implement these systems, such as the water tank, PVC piping, pump, and solar panel. The houses on the reservation are very far apart and lack on-grid power and water and many residents must store water outside their home and carry it in with buckets. This is the source of two problems: this method of water distribution is unsanitary because the water is exposed to many contaminants, and it places a physical burden on the many elderly residents that are forced to haul in the water themselves. In order to solve these problems, the EWB/UCLA designed an off-grid water system for a Navajo family in Black Mesa, Arizona, with the plan of replicating our system in the future to reach many more homes on the reservation.

Thank you to Joey Yan, from Woodard & Curran, Inc.’s Walnut Creek office, who nominated the UCLA Chapter of Engineers Without Borders for a Foundation Giving While Living Regional Grant.

UCLA Engineers Without Borders students prepare a sink for installation in the house.

UCLA Engineers Without Borders students prepare a sink for installation in the house.

project outcomes

The project was a success, as the team completed the design and implementation of the prototype system and brought running water to a family on the reservation that hasn’t had it before. The system consists of a buried tank, underground PVC piping, a pump for water distribution, and a solar panel power system for providing power to the pump. Additionally, the system was expanded to include a shower, hot water supply, and greywater recycling to help the family with water conservation.

The team then began the process of scaling up the designs for two new sites. Team members traveled to the reservation, met the families, and took measurements at each of the sites. Using the data from the assessment trip, systems similar to the original one were designed.

During the summer of 2018, five UCLA students traveled to the Navajo reservation to construct a water system for the Tso family. During the implementation trip, the volunteers dug a hole for the 550 gallon water tank, dug a 30 foot trench for the grey water line, installed the input and output pipes, put together a stand for the solar panel, set up the electrical components, and wired up the electric water pump. Once the family got the chance to fill the water tank, they confirmed that the system was functioning perfectly and were happy to have a working sink in their home.

None of these trips would have been possible without the grant provided by the Woodard & Curran Foundation. Having the funds to transport groups of students from UCLA to the site in Arizona is what made the rest of the project possible. Ultimately, we cannot thank the Woodard & Curran Foundation enough.
— Margit Maple, UCLA Civil and Environmental Engineering 2020 / UCLA EWB Treasurer