Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Barak Bruerd

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Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the second largest island in the world and one of the most biologically and culturally diverse nations on the planet. One of the last true stone age people, they are struggling with the delicate balance of entering the 21st century without losing their unique cultural heritage or devastating the fragile ecosystem they have lived in harmony with for thousands of years. Slow, careful steps are needed in order to ensure sustainable development; however the hardships of living close to nature - disease, drought, malnutrition, and lack of access to healthcare services, are causing Papua New Guineans to take detrimental steps in development, favoring short-term needs over long-term sustainability. Community development can help ease the growth pains of entering the modern world, bringing education and simple advances in agriculture and healthcare without the marring effects westernization often brings to struggling cultures. Foremost among the things needed by tribal communities is clean water. The Bare (bah-reh) people of Papua New Guinea live in a 300 square kilometer region in the northeast corner of the Easter Highlands province. Of the 22,000 tribal members distributed among approximately 70 villages, only a quarter have access to clean water, and of these, only Kanimpa (kah-neem-pah) has received a clean water supply system. The Olsons, a couple specialized in linguistics through the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL)are working with the Bare people in a variety of linguistic and development capacities. However,when the village of Punano expressed a desire for a clean water supply system, the Olsons had to seek technical assistance to aid in the design of the system. Having spent time with SIL in Papua New Guinea, I contacted their development office in PNG to see if my skills and education could be utilized for a short-term project and was soon after introduced to the Olsons. During the 4 weeks of June 2002 I worked with the Olsons in the village of Puna no in a variety of social and technical roles with the goal of designing the water system and producing a set of plans for its construction. Because of my knowledge of the culture and fluency in the trade language, I was well suited to deal with the intricacies of development, working to instill in the village people both ownership and responsibility for the water project. The village had decided upon a gravity flow system, and with the help of the Olsons, I surveyed the jungle water system using a handheld GPS unit and a sturdy pair of hiking boots. The water system design is composed of three main sections: (1) the source, a small perennial stream located 85 meters above and 1.254 kilometers northeast of the village; (2) the pipeline, composed mainly of 40 millimeter polyethylene pipe; and (3) the delivery tank, a 4500 liter TuffaTank located in the northeast section of the village. At the source, a small concrete reservoir will be constructed, damming the 3.61/s flow rate before it is piped to the 350 inhabitants of Punano. A steep descent into a u-profile 148m below the source will necessitate the construction of a break-pressure tank 73 meters below the source, and a washout at the minimum elevation in the u-profile to remove sediment buildup in the pipeline. While treatment of the water would be ideal, it is not within the tribe's ability to maintain treatment over the long-term. However the source is located far from anthropogenic influence and carries little disease providing a significant improvement over the muddy irrigation ditch that serves as their current source of water.

Language (ISO)



Water supply system, Gravity flow system, Community development


A Professional Project Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 2003.