Guayllabamba Waterkeeper


Rafael Chambers
[email protected]



Mr. Rafael Chambers if the Guayllabamba Waterkeeper.  From 1988 to 2007, Mr. Chambers directed the watersheds unit at Quito’s Metropolitan Authority for Water and Sewers (EMAAP, its acronym in Spanish). While there, he established key relationships with federal and municipal authorities, private institutions, universities and schools, as well as non-governmental organizations. He has trained hundreds on reforestation of Quito’s upper. A total of 11,254 students from 255 schools volunteered their Saturday mornings during the school to help restore the watershed. On average, every Saturday Mr. Chambers coordinated 750 students. Mr. Chambers has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Universidad Central del Ecuador in Quito and a graduate degree in environmental management.  After his studies, he worked as an agricultural extension agent in the provinces of Pichincha, Azuay  and Loja. He was national representative of the non-governmental organization Care International, which fights poverty and injustice in over 70 countries around the world.  He launched a program that brought food to school students in the poor southern areas of Ecuador. He served as executive director of Ecuador’s National Wheat Commission and was instrumental in increasing the production of grains in the country by 47% of the previous cycle.   

The Guayllabamba River originates in the Andes Mountains in northern Ecuador.  Guayllabamba is the Quechua word for green plain. This river is named after the vibrantly lush and fertile Guayllabamba plain that it crosses on its way to the Pacific Ocean.  This area has unique geological and botanic importance with approximately 1,200 species of plants (many of which are medicinal) and a great diversity of birds, mammals, and insects of multiple exotic appearances.  Among these interesting animals, one may find: squirrels, armadillos, bats, dwarf deer, skunk, South American gray fox, boas and other reptiles and amphibians, owls, woodpeckers, condors, and eagles. The upper portion of the Guayllabamba river is one of the most densely populated areas in the country (3.2m residents). Three major hydroelectric power plants were built along two main tributaries and are the recipients of sewage from 59 collectors spread throughout Quito. The nearby Monjas River also collects sewage from other parts of Quito and discharges it into to the Guayllabamba. Most other tributaries to the Guayllabamba are equally as polluted. The pollution comes from  different sources - households, industry, and large and small scale farming. The pollution of the Guayllabamba has forced Quito’s Metropolitan Authority for Water and Sewage (EMAAP) to obtain its drinking water from other rivers in the Amazon basin.  


Avenida Julio Tobar Donoso 1809 y Pasaje Santa Martha, Chiche-Puembo, Atte: Familia Chambers
Quito, Pichincha