Saturday, August 29, 2015

Drought in Cuba Lays Bare Decades of Water Mismanagement

Drought in Cuba Lays Bare Decades of Water Mismanagement
Posted: 08/29/2015 1:13 am EDT
Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 28 August 2015 -- Undone, with the sparks
of short circuits clouding his vision and the cabin smashed into
smithereens, Voltus V faced the worst end against a fearsome enemy.
However, at the last minute, he drew his sword and in a clean cut slew
his enemy. Japanese anime, so popular on the island during the eighties,
seems to have inspired the Cuban authorities in their tendencies to hold
off on certain solutions until a problem has already resulted in the
worst ravages.

This has happened with the recent announcement that, as of this coming
September 15, a campaign will begin to "artificially increase the rain."
Through a technique known as "cloud seeding," Pyrocartridges will be
launched from a Russian Yak-40 plane so that the water vapor particles
will condense, and this condensation will produce precipitation,
according to the official press.

The first reaction of many on reading the news was to wonder why they
hadn't done something like this earlier. Did the country have to get to
its current state of hydrological emergency for Voltus V to draw his
sword? With the dams at no more than 36% of capacity and 25 reservoirs
completely dry--at the so-called "death point"--now the experts from the
National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) propose to bombard the

The answers to these questions not only alert us to the insolvency and
inefficiency of our state apparatus to handle certain issues, but also
clearly indicate that they have not been up to the task to preserve this
valuable resource. As long as leaks and breaks in the country's water
system continue to waste more than 50% of the water pumped, no water
project will be sustainable.

On the other hand, it is worth questioning how water management has been
approached for decades in our nation, which has prioritized the creation
of large reservoirs. This decision has ended up damaging the riverbeds
of the countless dammed rivers and has reduced the sediment they carry
to the coasts, with the consequent erosion of flora and fauna in the deltas.

Of course, many of these reservoirs--now below half their capacity, or
totally dry--were built at a time when the Hydrologist-in-Chief made
decisions about every detail of our lives. The marks of his excesses and
harebrained schemes are still apparent in our country, excesses that
failed to give our people more food, more water and more freedom.

So enormous public works of damming the rivers and streams were
undertaken to the detriment of other solutions that would have helped us
to ease the current situation. Among them, investments in wastewater
treatment and the desalination of seawater, which surrounds us on all
sides. Every hydrological bet in the country was placed on one card: the
rain. Now, we are losing the game.

If the announcement of "cloud seeding" had been made in a country with
an environmental movement, we would see protests in the street. The
method is not as innocuous as the newspaper Granma wants us to think. In
fact, the critics of this practice consider it "an alteration of the
normal rhythm of nature," and argue that interference with moisture in
one part of the country could compromise the rain pattern elsewhere.

Looking up to see whether or not the rains come, we Cubans are waiting
for something more than a crop of clouds altered with a blast of silver
iodide. We deserve a coherent hydrology policy, over the long term,
without magic or spells, but with guarantees. May the next drought not
find us like Voltus V, destroyed and thirsty, raising an arm to draw our
majestic sword... that we haven't carried for a long time.

Source: Drought in Cuba Lays Bare Decades of Water Mismanagement | Yoani
Sanchez -

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