This is a long story, I’ll make it as short as, well as short as I can make it.
When the Spanish conquered Bolivia they found so much gold, and in particular silver in Bolivia, they could not AFFORD to ship the gold and silver bullion back to Spain. Can you imagine? Their solution was to build the only European mint off of European soil in Potosi Bolivia. There they made the famous spanish doubloons (coins), but them on llamas to Lima, on boats to west Panama. On donkeys to Panama City and then on to the Spanish galleons who were famously raided by the Pirates of the Caribbean.
The mining process was brutal, killing an estimated 8 million men, leading to the naming of the richest hill in Potosi (Cerro Rico) the “Mountain that eats men”.
And it left behind hundreds of abandoned mines that leak incredibly dangerous water. EIA in conjunction with the Penn State University school of Public Health took blood samples of children living downstream from some of mines found dehabilitating levels of Cadmium and Lead in their blood. It was also true for the potatoes which were irrigated with this deadly water.
The University of Oklahoma, St. Francis University, Tomas Frias University in Potosi, the Department (state) of Potosi, Oklahoma Rotary Clubs and Engineers In Action have been working for 2-3 years developing a pilot project to clean up the water using a passive water treatment (click here to see more about the project on this website).
This is a $700,000 project, when you include all of the in-kind donations. And EIA is providing, at no charge to the project, (your donations pay his salary), Joe Alvarez to be the project manager throughout its construction.
FINALLY, YESTERDAY, the Governor of Potosi has said he will sign an agreement to provide the heavy equipment necessary to move the limestone and dig the ponds. We hope to sign the agreements before I leave, and start moving limestone within a few weeks.
So yesterday was a great day to celebrate.
Join us in our joy, as we begin this incredible project that rights a 500 year old wrong.
From One ready to serve those in need, to another
Executive Director, Engineers In Action
PS: For more on this project go to:http://engineersinaction.org/projects/current-projects/potosi