Tierra Nueva Coffee

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Tierra Nueva Community - Nicaragua
Coffee Processing and Integrated Wastewater Treatment

The Community

The Community of Tierra Nueva was founded in 2010 with the help of Agros International, a proud partner NGO of EWB-PSP. It is a small community located in the coffee-rich region of Nicaragua and a beacon of hope for the 150 or so families who call it home.  Agros has worked in partnership with the residents here to transform what was once abandoned farmland into a robust agricultural bedrock.

The Need

One of the most promising opportunities for the people of Tierra Nueva involves the cultivation and processing of coffee cherries. Coffee processing is a very time sensitive practice that must be done on-site. If the cherries are not depulped, fermented and dried within 24 hours of being harvested, they will begin to decompose and lose value at the coffee market. A natural byproduct of the extraction process is a waste stream known as aguas mieles (honey water). Coffee processing wastewater is highly acidic and as a result is not considered safe to discharge to the surrounding environment. The people of Tierra Nueva were found without the ability to produce and sell coffee due to their lack of a proper treatment system for the waste that it produces.

TIMELINE

January 2013 – Assessment Trip 1

EWB-PSP, with the help of students at the Universidad de Centro America in Managua, performed the initial site survey.  This included basic topographical surveys, water quality sampling, and soil sampling.  The team also held discussions with community leaders regarding the community's priorities.

 

February 2014 - Assessment Trip 2

The team met with a local surveyor and a local environmental engineer to discuss plans for the construction of the beneficio, as well as best practices for construction and design given the materials available locally.  The team also visited an existing beneficio in order to learn more details of how coffee is processed.

 

April 2014 - Implementation Trip

EWB professionals traveled to Tierra Nueva to kick off the construction of the wastewater treatment facility.  The team monitored grading efforts, picked basin locations for the wastewater treatment basins, and inspected materials grading for filtration basins. The team also worked with local material suppliers to locate appropriate materials and equipment for the project.

 

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The Approach

In partnership with EWB-PSP and Agros International, the community of Tierra Nueva worked to construct for themselves a coffee processing facility complete with a wastewater treatment system capable of filtering and treating an entire season’s worth of coffee processing wastewater.

The process of treating this wastewater involved first filtering out coffee husks, directing to settlement basin and to neutralization ponds that hold the waste stream for several months at a time until the water naturally loses its acidity. With this facility in place, the people of Tierra Nueva are now able to safely grow, process and sell this lucrative commodity without causing harm to their health or surroundings.

November 2015 - Post-Implementation Trip

The project team traveled to Tierra Nueva after the completion of construction in order to evaluate the quality of the construction and witness the beneficio in operation. Unfortunately, the project schedule had slid, and the beneficio was only 95% complete when the project team arrived.  The team was able to see and approve the quality of the construction, however the beneficio was still a couple of weeks from full operation.

December 2016 - Monitoring Trip

In conjunction with an assessment trip for a future water supply project at a nearby community of La Bendiction, the project team traveled to Tierra Nueva once again in order to witness the beneficio in operation and perform an initial evaluation of the project's impact within the community.