Projects for solar energy systems, designed to produce electric power and treat waste water, are concluded
Revolutionary achievements on Isla Contoy
Project investment was in the order of $ 128,000.00 (128 Thousand) and is being financed by the Lighthouse Foundation. The coordination of works is the responsibility of Amigos of Isla Contoy A.C.
By Yecenia González
With an investment of $ 128,000.00 (128 Thousand), Amigos de Isla Contoy A..C. will conclude the solar energy system projects in order to produce electric power, collect rainwater and treat waste water on the island in two weeks’ time. Funds for the financing of the projects are being donated by the German Lighthouse Foundation.
Amigos de Isla Contoy A.C. is a Mexican, non profit-making, non-governmental association, founded in 1994, whose aim is to promote the prevention and monitoring of water, air and soil pollution amongst the population and furthermore, to protect the environment and to preserve fauna and flora growing wild, on land and in water, within the Isla Contoy’s National Park. The Foundation is headed by biologist Catalina Galindo.
Amigos de Isla Contoy A.C. is also taking charge of the care and safekeeping of other geographical areas, earmarked for the preservation of wild fauna and flora and aquatic species, protected in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche, Chiapas and Tabasco, among others.
Amigos Contoy A.C. signed a collaboration agreement with the Lighthouse Foundation and with the Isla Contoy National Park management in December 2005 to develop the project for “improvement and optimisation of solar and wind-generated systems for electric power, the exploitation of rain and brackwater, plus treatment of waste water in the Isla Contoy National Park field research station and visitors’ centre”.
Catalina Galindo advised that project investment funds were in the order of $ 128,000.00 (128 Thousand) and that the finance was being met by the Lighthouse Foundation, while Amigos de Isla Contoy A..C., the association over which she herself presides, was responsible for coordination of the works.
The island has a museum exhibiting all species of fauna, both marine and terrestrial, and in addition, a research station at its disposal, which is used by scientists and academic groups who carry out research projects on the reefs, fauna and flora. There are 12 people living at the research station who are in charge of its maintenance, and every day they can expect to receive an average number of 75 tourists.
The physicist, Everardo Hernández, is the designer and engineer behind the solar energy systems, the collection of rainwater and waste water treatment plant. He explained what the aforementioned projects consisted of:
"In order to supply the installations on the island with power, the project for electric power generation by means of solar energy was designed and 52 solar panels were positioned in order to generate electric power.
Besides enabling the operation of all the electrical and electronic equipment installed at the park, this source of energy is used to enable the operation of a treatment plant for 4,500 litres of waste water, collected from the installations in the Park. Finally, this water is used for the cleaning of the installations and for watering the plants which depend on fresh water for survival."
In order to resolve the (fresh) water problem, the project tackles improvements to the system of collecting rainwater, given that there are no fresh water deposits on the island. Everardo Hernández details how the process of rainwater collection is undertaken: "Average rainfall each year on Isla Contoy is one cubic metre per square metre and when a tropical storm arrives, there is up to almost 100 cubic metres of rain, which would be the equivalent of 100 tinacos , the water tanks typically used in a household.”
The collected water is channelled through a polythene pipe – substituting PVC pipes due to the high level of contamination – and passes through a few filters where it is poured off and all the residue that may remain stays at the bottom. The water passes through another filter, this time of sand, and proceeds to a pair of cisterns with a maximum 150 cubic metre capacity.
This water is pumped into another water tank, passes through different charcoal filters and then runs up to the tower to pressurize the whole hydraulic line, in order to supply all the installations.
To ensure that the water is ready for drinking, it is disinfected with silver chloride and then disinfected again with ultraviolet light and ozone which kill any bacteria which may remain, ending up totally purified.