Clean Water for a Model Amazon Village

João Carlos Nunes Batista
Friday, September 30, 2016

Potable water is the greatest benefit that any community can have. Safe, clean water free of disease and pollution is a human necessity, but it is not always readily available to the indigenous communities of the Amazon. The Waurá of the Ulupuene village in the Xingu, Brazil came to us with a problem: their water supply had become contaminated by soybean crop pesticides. These pesticides are carried annually to the rivers of midwestern Brazil, often rendering the water unsuitable for human consumption. The Waurá had one request: clean water drawn from an open deep well with the support of the Amazon Conservation Team.

Helping the Waurá obtain potable water was a top priority, but it was not an easy task. The major difficulty was simply transporting the necessary equipment from the city to their village. At this time of the year (September 2016), the water levels of the area rivers, especially the winding Batovi River, are extremely low, exposing hazards such as small waterfalls and large rocks. Only with the support and expertise of the indigenous people were we able to navigate these obstacles.

Once we arrived at the small Bakiri River port near the Ulupuene village, we ran into a bit of trouble. We removed the 400kg generator from the boat, and the vessel careened in the opposite direction, dropping valuable equipment into the river. But the strength and good spirits of the community guided us through our struggles again as they aided in the retrieval of the equipment. Even the indigenous youth helped by diving for valuable parts essential to their new well.

From that point forward, the installation process was happily uneventful, and the Ulupuene village now has a safe source of drinking water.