Dominican Republic - 1999-2001

Update 2009

The mountains of the western part of the Dominican Republic remain a viable area for a fog collection project. Melissa Rosato was there in 2009 for a brief visit and the need for water in more isolated communities is still present. It is anticipated that at some point in the future an active local NGO will come forward with a proposal for a village project.

Background

Islands in the Caribbean Sea present a wide variation in topography and in climatic conditions. The climatic variations are accentuated by altitude and islands with mountains often have, or have had, extensive montane forests at higher elevations. This is due in part to increased precipitation on the mountain sides exposed to the northeast trade winds, in part to cooler temperatures, and in part to persistent fog that covers the high elevation forests at certain times of the year. Rural areas of many of these same Caribbean islands suffer either seasonal or annual water shortages. A project was begun in 1999 in the Dominican Republic to look at whether fog collection could provide additional water to selected rural villages. We would like to sincerely acknowledge the support of Paul Baehr, of British Columbia, Canada, whose financial help made this project possible.

A group headed by Father Luis Quinn of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society in Canada has been working with the Asociacion para el Desarrollo de San José de Ocoa Inc. in the Dominican Republic for many years. Part of the work has focused on providing water to villages by conventional means. However, in cases of villages at higher elevations, a new approach was required. For this reason, a number of villages were selected for a fog collection evaluation project in 1999. They were chosen on the basis of a need for clean drinking water, especially in the dry winter season, and on the basis of an examination of the local topography.

The communities include La Yautía, El Rosalito, and La Cruz de Santana, which are located in the province of San José de Ocoa, and Sabana de San Juan, which lies in the province of Azua. The Association for the Development of San José de Ocoa, Inc. (ADESJO), directed by Fr. Louis Quinn, was the local non-governmental organization responsible for conducting the experiment. Fermín Lara, former Director of ADESJO’s Aqueduct Division (Infrastructure Department), supervised all local aspects of the experiment. Cameron Zywina, former Director of ADESJO’s Project Monitoring and Reporting Division (Natural Resources Department) worked with Mr. Lara on the project. Pablo Osses, then FogQuest’s Field Operations Manager, provided expert guidance for the project.

This 14 month investigation provided the first rigorous fog collection measurements for any of the Caribbean Islands. The data indicate that adequate fog fluxes exist in selected locations in the Dominican Republic, in the dry season, to merit considering the construction of large fog collectors to provide water to upland villages. At the Cruz de Santana site, initial measurements indicate that an array of 40 large fog collectors could provide approximately 5600 liters of clean water per day during the winter and spring periods. This would be about 15 L per person per day. The average collection rate by the Standard Fog Collectors (SFC) for the 14 month period of record at the Cruz de Santana School subsite was 2.5 L m-2 day-1. This is about 0.9 m3 of water per square meter of collecting surface per year.

The Cruz de Santana Eucaliptos subsite appeared to give values about 35% higher (6 months of data). Sites with precipitation but negligible fog produced much lower amounts of water. However, due to the presence of both drizzle and rain at times during the year, consideration could also be given to directly collecting and storing rainwater when present.

FogQuest is very interested in following up this promising investigation with an operational water supply project for mountain communities in the Dominican Republic. If you are able to help initiate and/or fund a project, we would be pleased to hear from you.