Posted by BCL on Dec 22, 2017

To provide clean water to almost half a million people Rotary clubs are working together to provide effective waste treatment for everyone living in the watershed of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Working with the municipalities in the region they have identified that the first priority is to focus on the uppermost municipality in Lake Atitlan’s watershed. They will improve existing wells, protect springs and provide potable water for four communities in Santa Lucia.  

Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala, is considered to be one of the most endangered lakes in the world.  The Lake is home to over 400,000 Quiche, Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil Mayans.  The poor condition of the lake is due to lack of waste-water treatment, meaning that residents are defecating in and drinking from the same water. 

Rotary clubs from Brazil; California, South Carolina and Minnesota, in the USA; and the local Guatemala club have joined together to work on a multi-phase, long-term project to clean up the lake by cleaning up the effluent from surrounding towns and agricultural fields. 

In preparation for a Global Grant proposal, from The Rotary Foundation, a needs assessment was conducted local mayors and representatives of the municipalities that surround the lake.

The first phase is focused on improving existing wells and providing wastewater treatment facilities for four towns farthest up on the watershed, in an area called Santa Lucia Utatlan. However, the final goal is to address poverty in rural Guatemala.  Two recent studies demonstrated that with clean water and effective sanitation, there are significant reductions in rural poverty.

There will also be work with local communities to encourage well protection, improved wastewater treatment, spring reinforcement and other improvements including reforestation.

In the municipality of Santa Lucia, the first community where the project will focus is the village of Chuijomil.  The village purchased two productive wells two kilometers outside of town.  The wells are 100 meters below where the proposed reservoir tank needs to be built to supply their complete village of 225-240 families.   These families currently receive water from the city for one hour every four days. The proposal is to install a pump and infrastructure at the well site, pump the water to a holding tank located 2KM and 100 meters above the wells.  The remainder of the distribution system will be gravity fed.  It is estimated that this project will affect the lives of over 3000 people.

The key to the success of this project lies in the leadership of the beneficiary communities which took the lead in identifying the problem.  Most importantly, the community will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the treatment and catchment systems, ensuring sustainability. 

If you are interested in more details or to follow the progress go to the website: or the Facebook page:


This is a huge project that will take a lot of money and effort over the years ahead. If your club is interested in helping contact:

Bruce Clemens at