Drought in Cuba Doesn’t Let Up / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 19 September 2016 — A sign
announces the sale of an apartment in Havana and stresses, in capital
letters, that the “water never runs out” in the area. Not far away,
another sign alerts neighbors of a multifamily building: “Starting
today, the water-pump will only operate for one hour.” In the last three
years, Cubans have lived with drought and water shortages, and forecasts
suggest that the situation will not change in the coming months.
According to a recent report released by the engineer Abel Salas García
of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), 48 of the
country’s sources of supply are completely dry. Another 200 show partial
affects, which means that more than 790,000 people receive water right
now on a different cycle than what they were used to, and more than
50,000 receive their supply through tanker trucks.
To talk about the cycle “they were used to” alludes to the fact that in
many places citizens have become accustomed, as a normal situation,
to water only flowing to their homes every other day, or sometimes only
three times week.
The areas with the highest cumulative rainfall between January and
August were Artemisa, Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Havana. At
the other extreme, the least favored regions are Santiago de Cuba, Ciego
de Ávila, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos.
In the specific case of Ciego de Avila, as detailed in the INRH report,
of the 14 groundwater basins in that largely agricultural province, six
are in critical condition.
In January, the reservoirs were filled to around 53% of their volume
and, although up to August rains were close to the historical average in
the three regions (eastern, central and west), at the end of August this
rate was only 52%. In absolute terms, the country had 653 million cubic
fewer meters of stored water than is usual for August.
According to experts, rainfall in the Cuban archipelago has been
decreasing by around 1.6 inches annually, which they attribute to
climate change and other environmental factors caused by the hand of man.
A lack of water caused by erratic rainfall is exacerbated in Cuba by
wasteful leaks in the pipes, in over-wide pipes that bring more water to
leak out, and in unstoppable domestic drips caused by lack of
maintenance in homes where, given the high price of faucets and plumbing
supplies, people find it cheaper to let the water flow uncontrolled than
to fix the plumbing.
Source: Drought in Cuba Doesn’t Let Up / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez –
Translating Cuba –