Sagua La Grande, The Village Where A Glass Of Water Is A Miracle
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 30 March 2017 — Through the streets of
Sagua la Grande, in the province of Villa Clara, people walk around with
bottles, buckets and every kind of receptacle. This month's break in the
turbine that supplies the city's water has forced its inhabitants to
carry water from different towns.
"It's been more than a week without water," Jaime Guillermo Castillo, a
resident, told 14ymedio. "We fill the buckets at some public taps very
far from the center, everyone goes to the closest one however they can.
We go in horse-drawn carts, on bicycles, or whatever appears."
The municipality is supplied by a public aqueduct system that has three
basic sources: Caguaguas about 7 miles away, Chincilla about 6 miles,
and Viana, nearly 10 miles. But with the acute drought affecting the
whole country, the first of these sources has had to come up with most
of the supply.
The breaking of the Caguaguas turbine aggravated the situation. The
equipment was taken to Santa Clara for repairs but the
residents complain about the lack of information and the excessive
delay. The problem has reached the point that several residents have
called the local People's Power delegate to resolve the problem as soon
as possible or to make a public protest.
"First they said it was only for a couple of days, but we have been
dealing with this for more than a week and the situation is getting
worse," laments farmer Jorge Pablo, who fears "big crop losses" because
it's been at least eight days without being able to put "a single drop
of water in the furrows."
According to the Population and Housing Census of 2012, the municipality
Sagua la Grande has about 52,334 inhabitants, 90% in urban
areas. Problems with water supply have been frequent in recent years due
to poor infrastructure.
Several areas of the city have also had problems with water pressure for
decades, mainly in the San Juan neighborhood, the southern part of
Victoria Center and Loma Bonita. Water is almost entirely unavailable in
the latter. A situation that has forced many villagers to drill wells
for their homes, which has brought a deterioration of the water table.
A study a decade ago calculated that water losses in the city were
estimated at 30% and were mainly caused by leaks and uncontrolled
consumption. Of the total water that is pumped from the sources of
supply, about 410 liters per second, only about 290 reach the city.
Instead of improving, the situation has continued to worsen in the last
ten years and the people's council areas with the greatest difficulties
are Coco Solo and Centro Victoria.
The driver from Caguaguas has also suffered the problems of maintenance
and conservation, as well as the shortage of equipment and qualified
personnel to maintain a stable service, according to local press reports.
Authorities attribute part of these problems to "unscrupulous citizens"
who drill holes in the water distribution pipes to illicitly irrigate
small orchards. The presence in the area of numerous producers of meat
with clandestine farms has contributed to the increase of the phenomenon.
However, the residents point out that the promised investments have not
been made to avoid the continuous breaks. "Nobody cares about this
town," laments Herminia, was was born there and who is now trying to
sell her four-room property with an immense patio.
The Villaclareña puts her hopes on the sale of her house to leave what
she considers has become "a place with no future." She feels that Sagua
la Grande has undergone a process of deterioration and "the frequent
breakingof the turbine is another step in this fall." Not even the 2011
declaration making the historic city center as a National Monument
managed to stop the process.
"A town without water is a ghost town," says Herminia. "Parents do not
want to send children to school in dirty uniforms and older people are
the ones who are worse off because they cannot carry water from
afar." She paid a water-bearer about 50 Cuban pesos (about $2 US), a
quarter of her pension, to fill a tank that she only uses for cooking:
"A bath is a luxury that I can not give myself," she says resignedly.
Source: Sagua La Grande, The Village Where A Glass Of Water Is A Miracle
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