Eight Years of Rationed Water in Bauta

Service cuts occur more and more frequently and, when the water arrives, it does so with very little pressure. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, havana, 29 May 2019 — The water is not reaching Bauta, one of the municipalities of the young province of Artemisa. For about eight years, many of its more than 40,000 inhabitants have been introducing their own measures so that the locality’s water problems are less and less evident in their homes.

And water is all anyone talks about. The service cuts happen more and more frequently and, when the water does arrive, it does so with very little force and at established times that force the residents to store it in tanks to have it available all day.

Rosa is a resident of La Cubalina, one of the neighborhoods of Bauta most affected by the scarcity of water. “Here the water flow remained stable for a few days — it came every day around five in the afternoon — but in the last week no water came. I have a little bit of it that I picked up at a neighbor’s house, but I have it stored for cooking. I have to clean but I’ll just sweep just because I have an old woman in bed and that is my priority,” says the woman.

To “endure these crises”, some people have paid for a tanks and a cistern, but she has not been able to afford that so far. “Just now I was able to buy the tanks that I already put on the roof, but I still lack the pipes and the installation; all that costs money, and I can’t afford it all at once, it’s little by little.”

Around the corner lives Nuvia Méndez, and as she sits in her neighbor’s doorway and talks with other residents “the only thing you can talk about,” is the water. “That’s the issue here, there’s nothing else, we’ve been without it for more than a week and the authorities do not care, not everyone can afford the installation of an elevated tank and a cistern, my husband carries water on the pedicab, but he’s older and we are retired and he can’t handle all that coming and going.”

The problem of water has been joined by another, the difficulties in collecting garbage. “It’s been 15 days since the tractor that collects the bags has passed by,” says Méndez.

Bauta does not have garbage containers, each neighbor takes his bag to the door of his house to be collected on Tuesdays, but many houses had up to three bags sitting out, many of them smelly and covered with flies.

Some residents who do not want to have stinky bags at the entrance of their home pay a driver, but he just takes the bag and throws it on a corner. Although there is a police placard that says “forbidden to throw garbage, do not pollute the environment or put children’s lives at risk,” the mountain of waste grows by the minute.

Many of the houses in the village have tanks on their roofs and some neighbors have improvised a cistern in their doorway burying a tank on the ground. In some areas the situation is not so critical. The residents of 142nd Street have benefited from a better supply of water since a new pipe was installed, but the crisis touches them even there.

Jorge Luis is one of the lucky ones who lives in that street. In his doorway he has a little receptacle where many neighbors come to fill their buckets.

“Here at least the water comes. Sometimes they fill it, sometimes they do not fill it, because it has a schedule; they said it was from ten in the morning to ten at night, but right now there’s no water.

Often it’s not chlorinated, they’re very relaxed about that. This is the best part, because we have this pipeline, the new one that was connected to the Party well. They say it because it is next to the municipal Party, and it has been almost two years since it was installed but it only came this far for a year. Before that the water did not come here either. We’ve had eight years already without running water because the pipes do not work,” he says.

The shortage has been chronic for eight years, although some times are worse, such as the last week, in which not a drop. (14ymedio)

The man also complains about the sewer system. “The drainage is another thing, we have a pit that we share among three houses, but they never come to clean it, although Public Health reported it, but nothing, they don’t come. We have that pouring into the street and, right now, you do not see much, because there’s no water at all, but when you the water comes, you will see running down the street, the clean next to the dirty. There are no sewers here, only on the corner is there one,” he protests.

Yumurí and Belica are two other districts of Bauta affected by the lack of water. A rupture in one of the pipes brought a brigade of the Artemisa Provincial Water and Sewer Company out to the lowest part of that zone.

“It’s been like a week since water came. This pipe has always been split and the water is jetted in. We had this break for more than fifteen days, when it rains, it floods and we have to wait for them to come and clean it,” says Luis Ernesto, one of the residents of the Belica neighborhood who tries to help the workers who are repairing a broken pipeline.

The area has even approached the president of the Popular Council to try to organize the work. “I think that this is resolved today, although the backhoe is missing,” he says, referring to the team that digs out the dirt to place the pipe.

The workers, who are not so optimistic, comment that a few days ago the equipment arrived, but the fuel was missing. “At this point of the month no company has any,” they say. But the official replies, “The fuel is already there, what is needed is the equipment,” he told the workers, who rested in the shade in the face of the impossibility of continuing to work.

Luis Ernesto believes that not enough information is provided about the situation in the municipality or about the causes that are the sources of these problems. “We have called everywhere but they always tell us something different, the truth is that we have been dealing with this problem for years and it has not been solved.”

One of the workers is very clear about it: “The problem with La Cubalina is that the valve does not work.” In the farm where the pipe passes, there’s a lost key to the passage. There is no water in the pipeline, the solution is to change everything from above to where the houses start, and this way La Cubalina will have a complete water system.”


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