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Arup develops solar powered water pump solutions

Arup launched an initiative to provide technical assistance in Nicaragua.

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Jul 12, 2012

Joshua Briemberg, Country Representative for WaterAid Nicaragua, visited Arup in January 2012 to share program updates and identified several technical challenges WaterAid is currently facing in the field. WaterAid's Nicaragua program focuses on the isolated north Caribbean region of the country, where 80% of people live without safe drinking water or toilets. Arup, a global multidisciplinary design firm and long-time WaterAid supporter, was instrumental in providing knowledge and resources to get this project started. 

The first challenge that WaterAid presented was related to solar powered pumping systems to pump water from surface water sources and wells to elevated storage tanks.

WaterAid requested Arup's advice and recommendations on how best to secure these solar panels. A team of four Arup engineers stepped up to the challenge and studied a number of solar power and pumping options, with a focus on developing a solution that can work at the numerous sites in Nicaragua.

The Arup team has developed a graphical tool that provides a quick assessment, giving an estimate of how much water needs to be pumped and how many solar panels will be required to meet that demand.

Teams of Arup engineers are also working to research, problem-solve and provide technical assistance to WaterAid on related issues such as the security and safety of the panels and pumps, water filtration systems, and possible rainwater harvesting options.

The Arup team has made great progress on this since the partnership launch on World Water Day, on March 22, 2012

Joshua Briemberg stated, "I can't thank the Arup team enough for the hundreds of hours spent collectively on their research and evaluation. The next step is for us to begin to apply this tool at a specific site. We have located a school in the community of Auhya Pihni and will be working in the coming weeks to confirm this as a pilot site. WaterAid is excited to continue working with Arup and put their ideas to work in the field."