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Posted March 04, 2005 by publisher in Cuban Healthcare

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[url=http://www.granma.cu]http://www.granma.cu[/url]

More than $20 million allocated in recent months to alleviate difficulties caused by the lack of rain • Water distributed by tanker trucks to nearly 2 million people • A plan for eliminating leaks in the capital
REGISTERED rainfall levels for 2004 were the lowest since 1901. However, the ongoing drought did not begin last year; rather, it began in the spring of 2003 in the country’s eastern region.

Jorge Luis Aspiolea, president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), told Granma daily that more than $20 million has been invested in recent months in projects to alleviate the drought’s effects. Those expenditures are part of a plan of action laid out by a Central Commission designated by the government, which is working together with another 20 agencies that belong to the Central Administration of the State to tackle this issue.

Higher temperatures and Cuba’s ongoing drought are two consequences of worldwide climactic changes that stem from increased global warming, according to experts at the Meteorological Institute.

The growth of global warming on a planetary scale is due to an excessive concentration of carbon dioxide (C02), methane and nitrous acid in the atmosphere, producing greater retention of solar energy.

The trend towards reduced precipitation is something that began in the last century, and endangers not only Cuba but also the entire Central American and Caribbean region.

RESERVOIRS IN A CRITICAL STATE

In 2004, registered rainfall stood at just 69% of Cuba’s historical average (1,375 mm). The first part of 2005 has not brought better news. In January, the 44 mm of reported rainfall represented only 50% of that month’s historical average.

At the end of January, the reservoirs were at 35% capacity, holding only 3,071 million cubic meters.

Dams in the provinces of Camagey and Las Tunas are holding only 14% of their capacity, while those in Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Granma are retaining less than 30%.

Of Cuba’s 235 reservoirs in operation, 114 do not reach 25% of their capacity, while 41 are virtually dried up and can not be used.

Dammed water levels in the provinces of Pinar del Ro, Isla de la Juventud and Cienfuegos are above the worrying national average, having benefited from rainfall that accompanied Hurricanes Charley and Ivan, which tore over Cuba’s western region in August and September, respectively, of 2004.

In face of this scarcity, water is being distributed via tanker trucks to 1,834,232 people throughout the country. The trucks consume 50,725 liters of fuel daily.

The president of INRH emphasized that the Central Commission stays up to date on the difficulties experienced by each province and municipality. The investments made are very costly ones, and priorities must be set, he explained, adding that credits and variants are being administered to broaden the margin of response.

Eliminating leaks in the capital

Juan Contino Aslam, president of People’s Power in the city of Havana, urged the capital’s residents to conserve water based on low levels provoked by the drought.

Contino explained that the potential exists for reducing water usage, because nearly twice the necessary water is pumped in the capital, and more than half is lost through leaks. He also mentioned wastage by commercial and state enterprises that consume large quantities and regularly use two to six times the established amounts.

He emphasized that it is better to conserve water than to invest resources in an attempt to produce more, which is a very expensive procedure. He reiterated his call above all to the public sector to eliminate leaks, which would result in more available water for residential areas, where a large amount of internal leaks also exist due to a lack of plumbing fittings, according to a report in Tribuna de La Habana.

New investments in large pipelines and the elimination of leaks are part of the province’s plan of action, which also includes continuing rehabilitation of the water system, begun in 2000.

Water will continue to be transferred from one source to another, while construction will be stepped up on wells and tanks for the water tanker trucks.

Leaks were found in 555 water storage tanks outside of residences, and the plan is to eliminate that problem with materials financed by INRH.

Every leaky faucet results in the loss of 13 gallons of water daily. Multiply that by more than 540,000 housing units in the capital, noted INRH sources. 

With local governments’ consent, a water supply schedule has been established in order to provide a small increase in the amount of water for areas that are in critically short supply, such as La Habana del Este and Cotorro, and the supply cycle for municipalities such as La Habana Vieja has been shortened. (Raisa Pages)

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