Another Water Crisis and My Possible Solution

Luis Rondon Paz

Residents carry water to their homes in Santiago de Las Vegas, one of the cities belonging to the capital Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — I thought that my activism had resolved the water problem on my block, but when the problem is just as bad or worse, I thought that maybe it was hurricane Irma’s fault. It’s been more than a week now since this precious liquid hasn’t come to my home.

I thought that after winning a dispute with the Aguas de la Habana water company in Boyeros municipality that lasted 5 years, I wouldn’t feel duty-bound to deal with this sore spot.

I must admit that this was naive on my part, as I am here again, telling my story.

A few days ago, a drinking water tanker truck came to my block and the driver had the nerve to say that he didn’t have a hose to pump water directly into people’s homes. “I don’t have hoses, you’ll have to take water in buckets,” he said emphatically. “If you say something, this idiot will leave and then we’ll really be screwed,” some people said under their breath while they took water up to their homes.

It has to be a curse somebody has put on Santiago de Las Vegas, I said to myself when I found myself in this situation again.

After everything that I went through to supposedly get a stable water service, I now find myself in the most likely tiresome situation of having to go to Aguas de La Habana offices with my case. And as I’m a repeat complainer, it’s clear that there will be reprisals, I imagine the following:

They will take down my personal details and my address; my case will then be added to the list of social cases with prioritized people. I will receive their guidance again that I am obliged to call them three times a day to remind them that I don’t have water at home, because many of them have a lot of work and they can forget. And then, finally, as if by the divine grace of their kindness which will be the result of my non-stop insistence, without haste, when they feel the time is right, they will send a water tanker truck to my neighborhood, which could arrive at 9 AM on the dot or the next day.

Once you begin the process of requesting water, you can’t move from your house because the tanker could come at any time, but you have to constantly call to make sure you are in the queue to get this precious liquid. This means that calls need to be made by cell phones, because ETECSA forgot about landlines when they discovered how lucrative cell phones are.”

Later, I decided to calm myself down so as to prevent an emotional outburst. I remembered that thanks to some extra money that I got from my trip abroad, I could buy myself an electric turbine (electric motor that is used to extract water from pipes that don’t have water pressure), popularly known as the “water thief” here in Cuba.

I hope to be able to get out of this never-ending cycle with the supply of this almost holy liquid, I said resolutely to my neighbors. Then, they told me that my decision was wise, as I’ll be able to solve my situation once and for all. And they added that the root cause of this crisis, independently of the damage caused by hurricane Irma, is tied to the fact that we live in the high area of Santiago de Las Vegas, and to top this off, the water valve isn’t handled properly. This has a mechanism that when it isn’t used properly, water pressure isn’t enough to get to homes, creating the situation that we complain about.

I will see how things go with the turbine, I told them pretending to be enthusiastic. Because, if I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to imagine the hell it will be to live through another series of problems with the institution responsible for ensuring the domestic water supply of homes in Santiago de Las Vegas.