Water filter with Calcium Carbonate for the people of San Marcos, Costa Rica

This year at the end of April, I had the opportunity together with 3 other students, to go to Costa Rica to work on my Bachelor Thesis. Somewhat unprepared we arrived at the university of Cartago (Technologico de Costa Rica). Once there, we received several assignments/projects we could choose from.

After consideration I chose a project in cooperation with the “Acueducto San Marcos El Rodeo”, the local water company in a small village named San Marcos. Because of the volcanic soil surrounding San Marcos the groundwater is very acid (pH 3.8) and had concentrations of aluminum that are way too high (2.5mg/L) . The population of San Marcos was drinking this water without any treatment because there is hardly any budget for drinking water supplies in the rural areas of Costa Rica. It was my assignment to find a simple and cheap solution for this problem so that it was workable for the people of San Marcos.  The solution turned out to be a filter with calcium carbonate. This system removed the aluminum from the water and raised the pH value of the drinking water to approximately 7.    

What I really enjoyed doing this project was the combination of working in a lab at the university and the fieldwork in San Marcos where I have been testing my pilot system.

We worked hard on our projects but we also took the opportunity to travel as often as possible through the country. We rented a car on the weekends and visited the beautiful places Costa Rica has to offer, from the tropical beaches while enjoying a “Cuba Libré” to trekking through the jungle to see the wildlife. It was mostly during the weekends that we felt the “Pura Vida” culture, the Costa Rican life attitude.

Altogether it was a wonderful experience! Not only did I grow on an academic level, I also learned a lot about (working in) a different culture.

Donald Lagers