AguaClara is an engineering based project team within Cornell University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department [1] that designs sustainable water treatment plants using open source technology . The programs’ aims are to improve drinking water quality through innovative research, knowledge transfer, open source engineering and design of sustainable, replicable water treatment systems. ” [2] AguaClara plants are unique among municipal-scale facilities in which they have no electrical or complex mechanical components and instead operate through hydraulic processes driven by gravity.

The AguaClara program provides undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to enhance their education through hands-on experience on projects with real applications. In 2012, the National Academy of Engineering showcased AguaClara as one of the 29 engineering programs at US colleges that effectively incorporates real world experiences into their curriculum. [3]

AguaClara is partnered with Agua para el Pueblo (Water for People), a NGO working in Honduras .


AguaClara was formed in 2005 by Cornell University professor Monroe Weber-Shirk, who volunteered in Central American refugee camps during the 1980s. Weber-Shirk uses the connections he has made with his Jacobo Nuñez, the director of Agua para el Pueblo to find the answer to a crucial question: What can we do to the rural communities? ?

In 2005, he founded the AguaClara program to address the need for sustainable municipal water treatment in resource poor communities. The first AguaClara plant was built in 2006 in Ojojona to serve a population of 2000 people. Currently, there are 8 AguaClara designed plants throughout Honduras serving over 30,000 people. [4]

Design tool

AguaClara has developed an automated design tool that allows interested parties to input basic design parameters such as a simple frontend and receive customized designs via email in five minutes or less. The user frontend communicates with the AguaClara server to populate MathCad scripts that calculate design parameters for input into AutoCAD scripts, which produce the final design. The design algorithms can be continuously improved. [5]

The Aguaclara design tool Applies an economy of scale to water treatment design, en ce que Almost there are no incremental costs to Produce an additional design. This is significant Considering que la World Health Organization Estimates the global unmet demand for Improved water at Approximately 844 million people, [6] Including 100 million using Surface water sources That Would be viable for Treatment with Aguaclara technology. From the AguaClara website:

Thus 125 million people need AguaClara water treatment plants. If we are going to meet this demand in 10 years and we will have an average of 12,000 people per water treatment plant, we will get an estimate of 1000 plants per year! This estimate does not include population growth or the need to replace aging infrastructure. [7]


AguaClara designs gravity-powered water treatment plants that require no electricity and are constructed by its implementation partners . The plants use hydraulic flocculators and high-flow sedimentation tanks to remove turbidity from surface waters.

leasing Partner Construction Start Inauguration Date Served population statistics Design flow (LPM)
Ojojona, HON APP 2006 June 2007 July 2000 375
Tamara, HON APP 2008 January 2008 June 3500 720
Marcala, HON IRWA [8] 2007 October 2008 July 9000 1900
4 Comunidades, HON APP 2008 October 2009 March 2000 375
Agalteca, HON APP 2009 October 2010 June 2200 375
Marcala, HON Expansion APP / AIDA [9] 2010 November 2011 May 6000 1300
Alauca, El Paraiso, HON APP 2011 May 2012 February 3600 720
Atima, Santa Barbara, HON APP 2011 December 2012 May 4000 960

La 34 , or “La treinta y quatro,” is a plantation run by United Fruit , is the first site of an AguaClara plant. [10] Construction on the La 34 plant began in December 2004 and was inaugurated in August 2005. The plant has a population of 2000 with a design flow of 285 LPM.

Marcala The Marcala plant began in the Fall of 2007 and was completed in June 2008. The plant was upgraded in May 2011 to 3200 LPM.

Cuatro Comunidades In the Fall of 2008, the AguaClara team designed a water treatment plant with shallower tanks that did not need an elevated platform for the plant operator. The Los Bayos, Rio Frio, Aldea Bonito and Las Jaguas are all within walking distance. Construction was completed in March 2009.


  • The Sanjuan Fund
  • Ken Brown ’74 & Elizabeth Sanjuan
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Cornell University School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Cornell University College of Engineering
  • Engineers for a Sustainable World
  • National Rural Water Association
  • EPA P3 Award Student design competition for sustainability
  • Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowships (CU Public Service)

Awards and Recognition

  • 2012 NAE “Infusing World Experiences into Engineering Education” [11]
  • 2011 Intel Environment Tech Award [12]

See also

  • Water purification

Notes and references

  1. Jump up^ “Welcome to EEC – School of Civil and Environmental Engineering” .
  2. Jump up^ “AguaClara’s About page” .
  3. Jump up^ “AguaClara featured in NAE Report” .
  4. Jump up^ “AguaClara completed plants” . Archived from the original on February 18, 2013.
  5. Jump up^ “Link to download design tool from AguaClara website” . Retrieved May 16, 2011 .
  6. Jump up^ “WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program” . Retrieved May 15, 2011 .
  7. Jump up^ “AguaClara and Sustainability” . Retrieved May 15, 2011 .
  8. Jump up^ International Rural Water Association . Permanent dead link ]
  9. Jump up^ “Cooperazione Rurale in Africa and America Latina” .
  10. Jump up^ “Students’ project in Honduras brought clean water to rural village,” Cornell University News Service, July 28, 2005.
  11. Jump up^ “NAE article on AguaClara” .
  12. Jump up^ The Tech Awards. “The Tech Awards Laureates 2011” ArchivedNovember 9, 2012, at theWayback Machine.

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