The drilling project application for Marbial, Haiti was originally denied by Hydromissions because of the rocky soil conditions of the small mountain village. Among drillers who have worked in Haiti, the country is referred to as a “giant rock.” And a “giant rock” is not a good match for our manual drilling equipment (EXP-50).
Hydromissions decided to reconsider the project after the applicant called to explain that since there wasn’t vehicular access leading up to Marbial, the typical drilling rigs would not be able to assist them. I was the associate that received the Marbial project to review after it was reconsidered. One of the reasons I was drawn to Hydromissions back in 2009 was because their niche is serving areas that cannot be reached by the larger rigs and to help those people/villages that were far from main roads and large cities. I ( along with the leader and the board of Hydromissions) really wanted to help even though this “giant rock” was intimidating.
Now, let’s back up a few months…
Dr. Beena Sukumaran (Rowan University) contacted me after I returned from Uganda (August) and asked if I could assist with a clinic she wanted to run to engage a team of students in designing better hand operated drilling equipment. I was able to share issues I have faced in the field with the students of the Engineering Innovators Without Borders (EIWB) clinic team and give them ideas on what would help. The plan was to try to develop a percussion drill bit and the students did a great job researching and designing for percussion. The students finished two different bit designs last semester (and are continuing to work on the design this current semester).
I was able to add the percussion bit to my gear for Haiti, and with that tool,we increase our chances of reaching water!
It took quite a few people and two donkeys to get our gear from the point where the truck dropped us off to Marbial, but it was such a lovely hike that I hardly noticed how long it actually took (about 1.5 hours?).
We started off with the standard drill (EXP-50) and worked our way down until we hit rocks we could not pass…then we brought out the percussion piece! We converted the drill extension rods into the legs for the tripod and used the rope and pulley donated by Spaghetti Engineering and started dropping the 30lb bit into the borehole. Slowly the rocks broke and then we would use the EXP-50 auger to scoop out the pieces of the rock. It was a very slow process, but inch by inch, we worked our way down. By the last day of drilling, we were around 17’ deep. I know that sounds crazy – only 17 feet after 6 days, but the process works and that is what is important. Based on the existing conditions (elevation of river, surrounding areas where we found water seeping out of the sides of the mountain), the community probably has 30’- 40’ to go before breaking into the water source. We held a class and sketched out what to do when they reach the water (i.e. how to case the well, build a bailer bucket, etc). The men in the community really embraced the drilling process and I have confidence that they will reach water soon!
Rocks conquered, thanks to Dr Sukumaran, The Engineering Innovators Without Borders clinic team, Spaghetti Engineering (company co-founded by Rowan Engineering alumni, Michael Muhlbaier) and the hardworking locals in Marbial, Haiti!