Built in 2007 on relatively flat land in the Cochabamba Valley, Mano a Mano’s reservoir in Laguna Sulti lends itself to expansion when the number of area farm families grows and need for water increases. St. Paul Rotary and Rotary International helped fund this major project, along with the Punata municipal government and the Laguna Sulti farm families themselves.

Mano a Mano’s Laguna Sulti reservoir (the reservoir is 80% full at the time this photo was taken in January 2021).

Impact of the Laguna Sulti Reservoir Built in 2007

Laguna Sulti farmers told us that their corn production in 2008 had more than doubled after harvesting the first crop that received reservoir water. Dona Matilda proudly showed us that first-year bumper crop as she watered it.

Dona Matilda

Later in the season, her neighbor, Don Ramiro, compared corn from the 2008 harvest that had been watered from the reservoir, with corn from the previous years’ harvest. “I feel so sad for our neighbors in other communities”, he said. “With the drought this year, I don’t know how they will have enough food to eat.”

The difference water makes for farmers in Laguna Sulti.

Reservoir Expansion in 2020

Over time, as the community grew, Laguna Sulti farmers asked that we deepen one section of the reservoir. With a deeper reservoir they would be able to release more water for their crops and animals, and include families who live at a greater distance from the reservoir. In spite of the pandemic, we were able to complete that expansion in 2020.

Boating Across Mano a Mano’s Water Reservoir in Laguna Sulti, Bolivia – March 2021

Starting Another Expansion in 2021

Now, with new funding from the St. Paul Rotary Club and Rotary International, we are initiating the deepening of another reservoir section so that each farmer will receive additional water, making it possible for them to irrigate larger portions of their farm plots. Using a front end loader, operators will dredge the reservoir basin to an additional depth of 1 meter. When this expansion is finished, it will hold up to an additional 10,000 cubic meters of water.

Mano a Mano’s heavy equipment digging out the Laguna Sulti reservoir to make it deeper for a previous expansion in 2019/2020.

Transporting Heavy Equipment to the Site

Last week, Nuevo Mundo equipment operators began the arduous task of moving machinery to the site.

Transporting Mano a Mano’s front end loader, and other heavy equipment, to Laguna Sulti – June 2021. The front-end loader will dredge the reservoir basin.

“We barely had time to rest after returning from Toro Toro, a trip that presented major challenges”, said lead machine operator Pastor Soria Flores.

“But we must finish the Laguna Sulti expansion before the rains begin in December, so we’re eager to get started.” Following routine maintenance and minor repairs at our Cochabamba machine shop, machines have arrived on site and are ready to do the job.

Learn More About Mano a Mano Water Projects

Through our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo, we have been building water reservoirs to improve community’s access to water since 2006 (like this project in Laguna Sulti), and over the past few years we have also acquired the heavy machinery and equipment necessary to drill deep wells – another means to improve access to water for communities in need.