Ilha das Pecas, Brazil: January 2007 and August 2006


The village of Ilha das Peças is located on an island on the south east coast of Brazil. It is located in the state of Parana and is within the city limits of Guaraqueçaba (an equivalent to the county division in the U.S.) The rest of the island consists of two smaller villages and a protected national park.

There are approximately 100 families (400 people) that are permanent residents of the village. The main sources of income on the island are fishing and tourism.

Prior to 1997, Ilha das Peças had no treated water or sanitation systems. The problem with the lack of potable water was partially solved in 1997. A pipeline was constructed to transport water from an inland source to the island 25 kilometers away. At this time, the houses in the village also received proper toilets and septic tanks.


Water Supply: Since the installation of a water pipeline in 1997, the population of Ilha das Peças has increased and two additional villages on the island have tapped into the supply line. As a result, there has been an increased demand for water on the island which the water source could not accommodate. Because of this, Ilha das Peças had a severe water shortage during the dry season (June-August).

Wastewater Treatment: When the sanitation systems were installed in 1997, they did not perform well in the environment of Ilha das Peças. The septic tanks were poorly designed for the needs of the users, and when the wastewater reached the infiltration tanks, waste elements of the water (organic material, parasites, and pathogens) quickly permeated to the surface due to the high ground water table near the sea. As a result, citizens of the village became sick due to their exposure to the untreated waste.

The EWB Response

Students at the University of Maryland, College Park, in cooperation with the community of Ilha das Peças, coordinated a project with EWB-USA. After surveying the exiting conditions on the island, in January 2006 a team of students and professionals traveled to the village to discuss the community’s needs with its citizens and collect data on water supply and sanitation. The community identified the water shortage as a severe problem. Additional survey information identified wastewater run-off as another critical concern.


Phase I: August, 2006: In August of 2006 the team implemented the two systems designed to supply the village with an adequate water supply and mitigate the community’s problems with waste water con-tamination.In order to give the population a greater elasticity in their water supply, we constructed a water tank in the village. The tank supplements the current system by storing water during periods of low demand and then dispensing the water during periods of high demand. Additionally, a chlorination system was installed to ensure that the water supply is safe to use and drink.

Phase II: January, 2007: In January of 2007, the Brazil team completed the construction of four greese traps, septic tanks, and constructed wetlands (CWT) to treat wastewater from four separate buildings in the village, in order to prevent further contamination of the streams surrounding the village and to help improve the water quality. Each system was sized for the according number of people occupying each building, and were built with slightly different designs, in hopes of finding the best and easiest design for the community to reproduce using their own materials for the other buildings in the village. To view pictures from this phase, go to the photos page.