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Students help a Guatemalan village tackle water pollution

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Clean green: WWU students Thé Nguyen, Rachel La Bouve, left, and Miranda Savory, far right, in Guatemala with their translator, Candelaria, who helped the Spanish-speaking students communicate with Mayan residents in the que’chi language.

A tiny Mayan community in Guatemala is working with students from WWU’s Engineers Without Borders club to build a place for residents to do their laundry without polluting the drinking water.

After traveling to Candelaria Camposanto last June to sample the water, scout out locations and talk to residents about what they need, students will spend this school year designing the laundry station and raising the $25,000 it will take to build it, says Miranda Savory, president of the club and a senior from Bothell.

Now, residents are washing their clothes in a spring that runs into a nearby river, Savory says. And the Guatemalan government has ordered the community to stop polluting the water or risk losing their land, she added.

The washing station will be a covered area with several wash basins and a filtering system to remove pollutants from the water that goes down the drain, Savory says.

“What’s really important about the project is it’s sustainable within their own community,” she says. “Anything we’re going to build there has to be locally bought so they’ll know how to fix it and they’ll know how to replace it.”

To learn more about the Guatemala Sustainability Project, contact Savory at