Saturday, December 26, 2015

Inefficiency, Not Drought, Is the Cause of Cuba’s Water Shortages

Inefficiency, Not Drought, Is the Cause of Cuba's Water Shortages
December 25, 2015
By Pilar Montes

HAVANA TIMES — Reinaldo and Estela rent out accommodations in Old
Havana. Conversing with them about their businesses, they told Havana
Times that their main problem isn't the lack of customers but water

Reinaldo and Estela asked to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from
municipal authorities. Their homes are on San Ignacia and Luz streets,

"It's not that this municipality isn't being supplied with water, the
problem is that we don't get enough. If you add the fact that part of
this water seeps away through leaks in the pipes or inside the
buildings, then you see why water shortages become an almost daily
struggle for us," Reinaldo explained.

"It bothers me that the press and radio and television news programs
often blame the tenants, when finding the materials to fix leaks is very
difficult and, when these are available, they are sold at prices beyond
the reach of the population," Estela said.

At the Council of Ministers meeting held last weekend, the chairwoman of
the National Water Resources Institute, Ines Maria Chapman, acknowledged
that the inefficiency of the water distribution system causes yearly
losses of 3.4 billion cubic meters every year (more than 50 percent of
the water supplied), a figure that has now allegedly been reduced to 15
percent, according to official reports.

When asked how these water problems in buildings and homes might be
solved, those interviewed concurred that "the most immediate solution
would be to find a driver of a water cistern truck."

Reinaldo explained that "the tanker-trucks head directly to public
buildings and State entities, but any distribution to private residences
has to be pre-included on their roadmap, because they are barred from
dealing directly with tenants and people who rent rooms, without
previous authorization from their superiors."
"They may deny it, but those responsible for monitoring the services
offered by these drivers most likely benefit from the unregistered
incomes they make," he added.

"In fact," he continued, "dealing directly with those in need of this
service is the most profitable operation for them, as they charge
anywhere between 10 and 15 Cuban Convertible Pesos (11.50 to 17.00 US
dollars) "under the table," depending on the size of the truck. What's
more, even though one or two tenants may be the ones who pay for the
water, everyone benefits from this and no one complains or reports on
the tanker-truck driver."

With respect to complaints by tenants with leaks in their apartments,
these two persons who rent out accommodations said that "these stem from
the high prices of connecting tubes, faucets of different sizes, master
taps, valves and toilet fittings, which low-income people can't afford."

"At the other end," those interviewed pointed out, "we have hoarders who
buy the water to resell it at three or four times the market price, the
same thing that happens with building materials."

A recently-published study on water distribution in Old Havana titled
"Water Networks in the Old Town" points out that "nearly all of the
drinking water consumed by residents of the old town is supplied through
aqueduct networks." Efforts aimed at modernizing and expanding the
capacities of this system are bogged down by leaks in connecting pipes
and in residences.

Source: Inefficiency, Not Drought, Is the Cause of Cuba's Water
Shortages - Havana -

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