Developing a Preservation Strategy for the Water Filtration System of the Antiguo Acueducto de San Juan

team aqueduct #2Sponsoring organization: Para la Naturaleza

Team members: Andrew Davis (Robotics Engineering ’16), Alanah Durr (Management ’16), Nino Melikidze (Management Information Systems ’16), Michael Owens (Chemical Engineering ’16)

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Executive Summary: The Antiguo Acueducto of San Juan is a site of historical and environmental importance to the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. The Trust acquired the Antiguo Acueducto in 2005. The Antiguo Acueducto has not been operational since the 1970’s. The Trust plans to fully preserve this site and use it to educate visitors on the importance of historic preservation and water conservation. Our project goal was to develop a preservation plan for the mechanical water filtration facility at the Antiguo Acueducto.

The Trust is an organization that focuses on historic and ecological preservation in Puerto Rico. Its goal is to preserve one third of the island of Puerto Rico for the value that it will bring to the community and for tourism. The Trust caries out this mission by acquiring natural areas and historic sites to be protected. Part of the Trust’s mission is to develop educational programs to garner general public support and awareness. The division of the Trust that works with environmental and historic preservation is called Para la Naturaleza. Throughout our time in Puerto Rico, we were working directly with representatives of Para la Naturaleza. By garnering public support and fostering awareness, Para la Naturaleza is planning to restore and preserve the Antiguo Acueducto as part of the Trust’s plan to preserve a third of the island of Puerto Rico by 2033.

Our mission was to develop a plan to communicate to the visitors of the Antiguo Acueducto the principles of its mechanical water filters, its historic value, and the general importance of water conservation, in order to help preserve the site. This preservation strategy included developing a model of the mechanical water filtration system and creating educational exhibit designs of the Antiguo Acueducto. The results of this project were a functional physical model of the filtration system and sample educational exhibit designs.  Afterwards, we made recommendations on how to implement and create the model of the mechanical water filtration system and the educational exhibit designs.

The objectives of this project were to:

  1. To design a functional physical model of the mechanical water filtration system of the Antiguo Acueducto.
  2. To design an educational exhibit that showcases the history and technology of the Antiguo Acueducto and communicates the importance of water conservation.

We evaluated the site of the Antiguo Acueducto to determine how the mechanical water filtration system worked. Additionally, we interviewed the engineers who have been working on the site since 2005. After understanding how the system worked, we created a computer-aided design (CAD) model and fluid simulations of a section of the mechanical water filtration system. The model we created helped us convey the function of the mechanical water filtration system to the Trust and any future visitors of the site.

team aqueduct #1In order to design the functioning physical model, we adapted the existing design into a smaller version. We used SolidWorks to model this smaller design and to determine the exact dimensions of the parts that would be needed to construct the model. In order to ensure our smaller filter would work, we conducted an exploratory experiment to determine what could be used for contaminants and filter media.

For the educational exhibit design creation, we visited other historic sites around Puerto Rico. We conducted interviews of the staff on the sites and evaluated their educational exhibits. Two of the sites that we visited are managed by the Trust, and our liaison, Elizabeth Padilla, organized tours of those sites for us. Through the interviews, tours, and exhibit evaluations we learned what kind of educational exhibits are typically found in Puerto Rico. The content we used for our exhibits includes information acquired from our background research of the project, provided to us by the Trust, and gained from the interviews we conducted. We asked for preliminary evaluations of our educational exhibit designs from the members of the Trust that we interacted with during various components of the project. We used their feedback to adjust and finalize the educational exhibit designs Finally, we developed recommendations for the Trust on how to implement the CAD model and the educational exhibit designs and suggestions that we developed.

In order to convey to the Trust how the mechanical water filters work, we created a SolidWorks model. This model shows the different states of operation of the mechanical water filtration system. Each state of the operation accurately reflects the state of each valve through color. Our fluid simulations are included in these configurations and clearly show how water flows through the system. We then produced a plan for converting our SolidWorks design into a functioning physical model of the mechanical filters at the Antiguo Acueducto. This design is composed of a SolidWorks model, along with a description and recommendations on how the model can be constructed and run.

For our educational exhibit evaluations and interviews, we visited four sites: Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo de San Cristóbal, Hacienda la Esperanza and Cabezas de San Juan. The first two sites are managed by the U.S. National Park Service, while the last two sites are owned and managed by the Trust. We interviewed park rangers at the U.S. National Park Service sites. At the sites managed by the Trust, we were given tours of the sites and interviewed interpreters. From the interviews we learned that each site has exhibits that help visitors easily navigate the site by their strategic placement. All the exhibits tell a continuous story related to the history of the site. The sites managed by the Trust tell multiple stories simultaneously such as the history of the site, the plants and animals found on the site, and importance of historic and environmental preservation.

Our exhibit evaluations revealed that all of the sites had all of their exhibits written in both English and Spanish. The exhibits at all of the sites also used a lot of bright colors and graphics to help draw the visitors’ attention. Most of the exhibits contained a headline and subheadline as identified by Falk (1997). After the site visits, using exhibit evaluations from other historic sites, we came up with the exhibit display designs. Afterwards, we sent the designs and evaluation questions about the educational exhibit designs to the members of the Trust with whom we had worked in some capacity during the execution of our project. After gathering their feedback, we adjusted and finalized our educational exhibit designs.

In order to decide what physical material should be used for the exhibit displays, we identified three different companies that provide these types of materials. Integrating this information with our plans for the spatial layout of the displays, we identified a list of qualities that we suggest should be required from each of the exhibit materials. We then came up with a separate list of qualities that are not exactly necessary but can be useful. Using this list and the list of products and their descriptions from each company, we compared their qualities to our list of required qualities. These comparisons allowed us to make a final recommendation of what product would be best for the educational exhibits of the Antiguo Acueducto.

Based on our results and analysis, we created various recommendations on how the Trust could utilize the physical model and our SolidWorks design of the existing system.

Our recommendations for the physical model focus on how the model could be constructed and operated. We include information on where parts could be acquired and pricing. We recommend an following our operational procedure that includes all of the operations of the system, and how to properly clean and maintain the system. We also discuss potential problems and how to address them.

For the educational exhibit designs, we recommend that the Trust to pilot-test them with a group of visitors before implementing them. The designs we created were reviewed by a few members of the Trust, but we were not able to gather feedback from potential visitors to the site. We recommend pilot-testing to potential visitors to see how they would react to the educational exhibits. This will give the Trust a chance to make appropriate final revisions to the exhibit designs according to visitor feedback before purchasing the final exhibits. We made recommendations for the type of material that should be used for the exhibit displays, and identified the Trust’s best options for actually producing the displays

Our most important deliverables included the SolidWorks design of the physical model and the finalized educational exhibit designs. We hope that our results and recommendations are helpful to the Trust in moving forward with the preservation of the Antiguo Acueducto of San Juan.