Santiago de Cuba Hit Hard by Drought
14ymdio, Zunilda Mata, 29 March 2017 — Cuba is experiencing one of the
worst droughts of the last half century and its reservoirs are at 39%
capacity, a situation that affects the water supply for people, industry
and agriculture. Santiago de Cuba is going through the most serious
situation, according to José Antonio Hernández, director of the
Department of Rational Use of the Institute of Hydraulic Resources, who
spoke Wednesday on state TV.
In that eastern province some 635,000 people are supplied with water on
17 and 20 day cycles. Meanwhile, more than 81% of the agricultural area
of the island is affected in some way by the lack of regular
irrigation. The picture is aggravated by the annual loss of 3.4 billion
cubic meters of water through leaks and breaks in the supply system.
Currently, the reservoirs in at least 11 provinces are below 50% of
their normal levels and "in three they do not even reach 25%," Hernández
said. In the case of Ciego de Ávila stored water stored barely fills 15%
of the reservoir capacity in the territory. The supply is currently
governed by a rigorous schedule, prepared by the local Aqueduct and
Reservoirs in at least 11 provinces are below 50% of their normal levels
and "in three they do not even reach 25%
The Zaza dam, with the country's largest storage capacity, is also in a
difficult position. Located in Sancti Spíritus province, the dam is
filled to only 14% of its capacity, the equivalent of 146 million cubic
meters. The neighboring Siguaney Dam has less than one million cubic
meters of usable water.
This central province has seen 69 of its supply sources dry up, 16 of
them totally. This situation affects 105,821 inhabitants in more than 40
communities and urban neighborhoods of the cities of Sancti Spíritus,
Trinidad and Jatibonico, according to figures offered by the local press.
"Since the first signs of the drought in the country began in mid-2014,
working groups have been set up to deal with this problem," explains
Hernández, whose mission is to monitor and assess the situation in each
area from the municipalities.
At the end of last year the country's reservoirs were 1.510 million
cubic meters below the historical average, a situation that has been
aggravated in the first quarter of 2017 and has forced the country to
expand the practice of supplying water through tanker trucks – popularly
known as pipas – that deliver water neighborhood by neighborhood and
block by block, to residents who collect it in every available container.
Water problems have also affected internal migration. "The fact of being
able to open the spigot and have water is a luxury I can't give myself
in Palmarito de Cauto," Raydel Rojas, a man from Santiago who recently
emigrated to the capital, tells 14ymedio.
"The problem in the province and in small towns is that it becomes more
difficult to pay for the water truck," says Rojas. "You have to live day
by day buying water little by little."
In the West, the situation is not without problems either. The
authorities have looked at the private swimming pools, considering them
wasteful in times of drought. The entrepreneurs who rent to tourists in
the area of Viñales have experienced the "anti-pool" offensive with
At the beginning of last year the Council of the Municipal
Administration decreed the closing of all the pools and canceled the
licenses to rent to tourists for those who resisted obeying. Over the
months the situation has worsened.
"Now they carefully supervise water consumption and call to account
those who have a greater consumption," complains an entrepreneur who
rents two rooms in his home in this village that attracts a lot of
tourists. The innkeeper, who chose to remain anonymous, said local
inspectors "have their eye on the pumps if we increase the pressure of
the showers because they say it costs too much."
Source: Santiago de Cuba Hit Hard by Drought – Translating Cuba -