Resale of Water, A Lucrative Business

Tankers like this, in Santiago de Cuba, distribute water for the province. (Yosmani Mayeta)
Tankers like this, in Santiago de Cuba, distribute water for the province. (Yosmani Mayeta)

The drought in Guantánamo province has triggered an illegal market in water. Residents of the province are coming to pay between 300 and 500 Cuban pesos for the contents of a water truck, a lucrative business for drivers of the so-called “pipes,” which the authorities have denounced after a meeting in which they discussed the measures to be taken to confront the situation.

Ines Maria Chapman, a member of the Council of State and president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), called the attitude of these drivers opportunistic, and called for people to fight back by denouncing those who “exploit” the situation caused by the drought for material benefits.

Chapman added that several communities in the region are receiving water only every 25 days.

For its part the local INRH delegate, Alfredo Correa, reported on the lack of rain and the alarming decline of water in the reservoir, which is now only 134 million cubic meters out of 347.5 possible, 39% of the storage capacity for the province.

The depletion of many sources of supply, such as rivers, dams, lakes, tanks and wells, has forced water rationing on more than 258,000 Guantanameros, 72% of the population of the province. Irrigation has been limited to a minimum in the depressed agriculture in the area, including on land for sugar cultivation managed by the State sugar company, Azcuba.

The most fortunate can receive water through supply networks on a cycle ranging from two to ten days.

The situation has forced to government to increase pumping from the Bano River, which has been very low for years and with a high level of pollution. They have also had to construct new pumping stations, one of them about to be open on the Camarones canal, next to the central town of Argeo Martinez.

Opening wells in the mountains and the battle against leaks and illegalities are also among the measures promoted by the authorities of the province.

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