Water problems inspire woman from El Salvador to become engineer

VICKSBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – A leading environmental & civil engineer at the army corps of engineers research and development center has a lot to be thankful for after her incredible life story.

Edith Martinez-Guerra grew up as a child in El Salvador without access to clean drinking water.

“They came here illegally,” said Edith Martinez-Guerra. “So they had to get their status first, and after that they got me a green card, then I came here.”

Edith Martinez-Guerra grew up in El Niño, a small town in El Salvador that lacked easy access to clean drinking water. Every day, Edith and her family were forced to walk at least a mile a day to the closest well…just to survive. Edith told me the village was located at the base of a volcano, which was the main reason for the water’s poor quality.

“When I was a kid, it was very difficult to get water just to drink. You can go anywhere here and find water,” said Edith Martinez-Guerra. “I got sick, from drinking that contaminated water. I got Hepatitis A, which is from drinking or eating food with contaminated water.”

At the age of fifteen, Edith got her green card and immigrated to the United States, where she and her family moved to Arkansas.  After earning her undergraduate degree at Arkansas State University and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at Mississippi State, Edith got a job as a research environmental engineer. She was finally able to put everything she had learned in school towards something that was, for her, close to home.

“So I have always dreamed of cleaning water, of working in some place where they give me the opportunity,” said Edith Martinez-Guerra.

Edith has helped contribute to a number of different projects at ERDC, including phosphorous removal techniques and the development of the “dets” system, a new type of water purifier that can be deployed during a chemical or terror attack.

“It will benefit anyone, because it can remove any contaminant, said Edith Martinez-Guerra. “It can treat anything. That was the main idea for the system.”

Eventually, Edith wants to go back home to El Salvador and help provide clean drinking water to her home town of El Niño.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s