Women and Children collecting water

The AguaClara Story

AguaClara came about when the Program Director, Monroe Weber-Shirk, took on a water project in Latin America.

The project expanded as the extent of the challenge to provide clean water and the lack of adequate means of facing this challenge became apparent: The realization that conventional mechanized water treatment was not a sustainable option for many small cities and towns drove the desire to start a program that would innovate, expand, and develop new and improved water treatment technologies.

In 2005, the AguaClara Program was founded at Cornell University. In 2006 Agua Para el Pueblo began constructing the first AguaClara Plant in Ojojona, Honduras.

Raw water (left) and AguaClara Plant treated water (right)

The AguaClara Difference

The AguaClara plant design is gravity-powered, electricity-free, and scalable for a wide range of flow rates.

Almost all water treatment rely on electricity to monitor and operate. Access to electricity is both unreliable and costly in many communities.

AguaClara plants use gravity instead of pumps and mechanical devices instead of electrical monitors to run the plant. Since the plants are designed to be constructed using locally-available materials and labor, AguaClara communities also avoid the risks of failure or shut-down that plague other projects dependent upon proprietary expertise and supplies. Up-to-date plant designs are freely available and customizable using the open-source AguaClara Automated Design Tool. Designs are available for download here.

Our governance model is based on community ownership, democratic governance, and technology that is specifically designed for ease of operation and to encourage pride in ownership. We build implementation partner capacity and encourage the formation of a network of implementation partners that will share best practices for sustainable implementation.

This integrated model of technology development and sustainable governance has proven extremely successful. All AguaClara facilities are owned and operated by their respective communities and the facilities continue to provide safe drinking water.