Water and its Price

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

The price of water.  Illustration: Carlos
The price of water. Illustration: Carlos

HAVANA TIMES — The beginning of this year was quite dry and, at this time of year, we’ve hardly seen any rain.

People are tense with the news of a new “special period” crisis, and no wonder! If we already have problems with our water supply, what are things going to be like from now on?

Some areas are only receiving this precious liquid every three or five days, it’s extremely worrying to think that this could be further extended. It’s sad to see people whose only option is to wait for hours on end to be able to fill their buckets and water tanks, and even hurt each other in the process.

Those who are financially better off, even though they are also affected by this, use their money to pay for tanker trucks, whatever the price may be. This has become a lucrative business for those who control the population’s water supply. Tanker trucks belong to the State and they’re now no longer reaching the places they’ve been assigned to go to and instead go directly to the houses that have paid on the side; affecting the less advantaged even more.

The other issue is the subject of saving. I’m very aware of its importance; however, water is wasted all over the city where there are thousands of leaks and because of other malpractices…

There used to be a spring near my house, and in times of absolute scarcity, a few of us were able to get along whilst we had to wait for water to fill the tanks. It never used to draw attention until water started to collect and a pool formed which became a breeding ground for mosquitos; we already know what kind of problems this brings. Everybody blamed this puddle for all of the illnesses that afflicted our area. People complained, the health authorities complained… until somebody appeared one day and decided to channel the spring into the rain runoff ditch in order to avoid this vital liquid from flooding our neighborhood’s streets.

Now, with the shortage, people remember this spring with nostalgia, the puddle/mosquito hub protests could have resulted in something else, not in something so radical that now harms us all. This pure water that didn’t used to cost a single cent would really come in handy right now…

The government is taking serious action against those who are making a business out of other people’s needs, but that’s not enough. The drought increases, it’s getting harder and harder to get our hands on water, the water business continues and prices are going up.

2 thoughts on “Water and its Price

  • While the Castros were using hundreds of millions in Soviet rubles to foment failed socialist revolutions abroad, they should have been maintaining and upgrading infrastructure. Today as much as 50% or more of the drinking water is lost between filtration and the tap. As Mercedes correctly mentions, there is plenty of water. Shortages are due to leakage and misallocation.

  • The infrastructure for water supplies in Cuba has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where leaking pipes result in water running down the streets. Those same streets run with rain water virtually every day during July – September at about 3.00 p.m. for up to forty minutes. So the problem is not lack of rainfall, but conservation.
    During the last three years or so there has been a major endeavor to upgrade the mains supply in Havana, but not much in most of the rest of the country.
    Oddly the mosquito problem related to viruses has resulted in teams of people making weekly visits to fumigate houses, but no apparent action on the open water areas where the mosquito larvae thrive.
    In our town there are a couple of ancient water trucks supposedly bearing potable water, but as with the mains supply it is wise to boil all drinking water.

Comments are closed.