U.S. Navy Seabees – 18 in all – are midway through the completion of a construction project in support of New Horizons-Peru 2008, a humanitarian effort focused on bringing vital quality-of-life projects to the people of the Ayacucho region in Peru.

Once completed, the water well construction project will provide much needed drinking water to Peruvians in the Huanta province. In addition, the New Horizons mission will offer expert medical care and vertical construction projects intended to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Peru and the United States.

"I'm excited that after a year of planning, we're doing it and doing it successfully," says Chief Equipment Operator (SCW) Matthew Turner, the water well assistant officer in charge.

The Seabees, a team of construction engineers deployed from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport, Miss., are scheduled to construct two wells, one in Azangaro and one in Luricocha. Each one costs approximately $50,000. As a contingency, the Seabees also have identified a reserve well site if water is not found at the two projected sites.

The engineers will drill more than 100 feet below the surface at each site in order to extract drinking water for the more than 200 people in the local area who are affected by a yearly drought that usually occurs between August and October.

To find this ground water, engineers use the mud program. The system helps the engineers to locate the depth at which the water can be found. When water is found, the mud in the drilled holes will begin to bubble or swirl. Seabees then record the depth drilled, and determine if equipment on hand is large enough to develop the well.

The Seabees currently are in the development phase of the project, which includes drilling and containing. At the first drill site, the team found water 402 feet below the surface, and began drilling the well using an international-standard organization air-transportable well drill. They will complete the well by placing a water pipe, cased in a steel pipe, in the hole. A wood housing area also will be created around the well.

"Prior to us coming here, there was no hydrological data to know if there was any chance of getting fresh water," says Turner. "Now that we have found water, it will be possible for other drilling teams to come in and drill in the neighboring areas. I believe this will have a positive impact for generations to come."

The well construction is scheduled to continue through Aug. 10. During the three-month U.S. and Peruvian humanitarian mission, more than 990 U.S. servicemembers are scheduled to contribute more than 240,000 man-hours to the mission. New Horizons Peru-2008, scheduled to run through Aug. 31, also will include the construction of three clinics and two schools.