Water has flowed through Edith Martinez-Guerra’s life, carrying her in its current from a one-room house in El Salvador with dirt floors she shared with seven relatives to a career as an environmental engineer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.
From the contaminated water she and her family were forced to carry a mile a day and which eventually gave her Hepatitis A, to the rivers her parents were forced to cross as they illegally immigrated to the United States in search of a better life and finally to the water purification systems she helps design at ERDC, Martinez-Guerra’s has been defined by water.
Martinez-Guerra was born in a small village in El Salvador named El Nin?o in the shadow of the volcano Chaparrastique. The streets in the town were made through the years as rain water running off the side of the volcano cut trails through the landscape.
No running water, even to this day, and sparse electricity created a different world in El Nin?o than the one in San Miguel, only 20 miles away.
“When you are a kid, I don’t think you pay much attention,” Martinez-Guerra said. “You can see the difference when you go to the city, which is like 20 minutes away. You can see the huge difference. You don’t have to go that far to see, but…