Posted by Bernie Janzen on Jun 08, 2018

Water Filtration Project Hacienda de la Labor, Mexico

By Bernadine Janzen

Imagine living in a small village of 139 people located 1 km from the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico, the largest freshwater inland lake in Mexico and you have to buy bottled water.
Where a Mexican prison and a gated community within 3 km from the village, on the same road, have on-site water treatment facilities and your village doesn’t?
If you’re part of the  “lucky” half of the village to have access to water provided by the Chapala Municipality you may not have the money to pay for water connections to your house and within your house or the annual water bill.

For those who do get the water, it is found to be of questionable taste and safety.  


During September through December 2016 Butterflies en Mexico conducted a community assessment through the use of surveys and formal interviews. Only one family was unable to be interviewed in the community. An area identified as having significant need was for clean, safe water.  The Hacienda da labor Community Council continues to affirm that water is a high need for the community.

There are two ways water comes to the village.  15 houses receive the contaminated municipality water and 15 houses utilize a water truck which comes one time a week to the village.

Water for the 15 homes that have municipality water is not consumable. Women expressed that when they use the water from the faucets to wash their bodies and hair they received rashes and lost their hair. Most people utilize bottled water for bathing.

The additional families who do not have access to municipality water use bottled water for daily care. 38% of the families stated they do not have sufficient water each day for drinking and bathing.


Providing clean water is one of Rotary’s Six areas of Focus:  “Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education are basic necessities for a healthy environment and a productive life.“


The Project-Water Filtration

  • The providing of  30 grafons with a filter system to families for safe drinking and bathing water.  A grafon holds 20 liters of water.

  • The filter system is made specifically to the toxins which need to be filtered out and displaces about 2 liters of water in the 20 liters of the grafon.  

  • Two labs tests will be supplied to evaluate the type of filter necessary for the grafons; municipality and truck water.

  • Thirty grafons with filters, which match the type of water they receive, will be supplied to each home.

  • Training of residents on how to use and care for the grafons and filters

  • Sustainability - The filters will last 5 years.

  • Total Cost of the Project-$689.0 USD


In the long term we are developing strategies to contribute to a more lasting solution to the water issues that are faced  by the village.


What are Rotarians doing to address water needs in Mexico?  Click to find out.


Additional resource:   Water resources management in Mexico

“According to the Water Quality Index, 96% of Mexico's surface water bodies have different levels of pollution. OECD estimates the economic cost of water pollution in Mexico at US$6 billion per year. The problem is most serious in the Valle de Mexico region where 100% of the water bodies have different levels of contamination, 18% of which are highly polluted. Low water quality is due to untreated discharge of industrial effluents and municipal wastewater into rivers and lakes, solid waste deposits along river banks, uncontrolled seepage from unsanitary landfills, and nonpoint pollution mainly from agricultural production.[9]


Let's take a more in-depth look at a village where not having clean water is just the “tip of the iceberg”.  


Location: The rural community of Hacienda de la labor sits on a hill 1 kilometer above Lake Chapala, Mexico. The altitude at this level is approximately 6,000 feet which makes it cold in the winter months. The community is 3 kilometers from the city of Chapala.  The combined distance makes a total of 4 kilometers walking distance for individuals to travel for work, supplies, medical care.

Transportation:  In the community, there are 4 cars.  The nearest available public bus transportation is about a kilometer away.

Demographics:  The population is 139 individuals.  There are; 26 children age 6 or under, 16 children ages 7-11, 16 youth ages 12-17 years of age, 24 young adults 18-26 years of age, 15 adults 27-36 years of age, 22 adults 37-56 years of age, 13 adults, 57-76 years of age and 7 adults 77 or older.


Employment:  There has been a lack of industrial work or private business in the community.  In a community survey 83% stated in the last 5-10 years there has not been an opportunity for work in the community.  Of those who work, 86% of the individuals travel outside the community. Of the 24% that had a member of their family working, 4 of the individuals worked 45 - 92 hours a week.  Only 4 people work in the Hacienda de la labor community.


Education:  There are adults and youth of the community who have only completed 6th grade or less. During 2017 it was observed that there are who adults do not read or read well and are unable to write at a competent level.  We are aware of a lack of competency in some of the elementary school age level as well.


Government:  In villages of this size the only semblance of government is the position of Delgado who serves as the representative to the Municipality of Chapala.  There is no community center or any community services.

A detailed community assessment, with analysis, can be found by clicking this link.  We are in the process this summer of updating the community assessment.  Part of which is training selected community members in conducting surveys and interviews.


Butterflies en Mexico has made a long-term commitment to the community of Hacienda de la labor.   We are currently developing a global grant proposal with the focus on Economic and Community Development.  


The major goal of the project is to provide training for youth and their families to expand their knowledge and skills that are essential for economic development that will contribute to the growth of a healthy and sustainable community.  Specifically:

1. Building the capacity of entrepreneurs, community leaders, local organizations, and community networks to support economic development in impoverished       communities;
2. Developing opportunities for productive work
3. Reducing poverty in underserved communities


BenMX has been active in the community since 2016 conducting a variety of activities:

1.  Coordinating with the Delgado (local government official) in the formation of a  10-person community council
2.  In collaboration with the community, the council developed a community bartering system
3.  Provided a system of collecting clothing, eyeglasses, and medications from local physicians for distribution to the village
4.  Organized community trash gathering
5.  Piloted four bazaars for the community based on the community bartering system
6.  Piloting a program for training youth to work with BenMx “Hacienda Trabajando” at a local market once a week - a canopy of handmade articles
7.  Participates in community council meetings monthly
8.  Researched local educational sponsoring groups who can financially support the educational needs of some students
9.  Conducted activities which stimulate youth 3-12 in practicing math, reading and  writing skills
10.  A 3-hour event was provided to better educate the young girls and women of the community about menstruation



Our Objectives
Provide options for how youth can make sustainable changes
Provide opportunities for change.


In the United States, we are registered as a 5013c through the State of North Carolina as the Mariposa Project. 

In Mexico, we are registered as a "Donatorio", the highest level of recognition for a nonprofit.   This recognition enables BenMx to issue tax receipts for funding contributions made by individuals and businesses.

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