Cuba Culture

Hurricane Charley did not relieve the drought in Cuba

Posted September 02, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Culture.


Cuba’s reservoirs remain at 37% of their capacity

BY RAISA PAGES —Granma International staff writer—

HURRICANE Charley did not bring enough rain to feed Cuba’s reservoirs. Stored water (3223.7 million cubic meters) remains at 37% of the total capacity for the 241 reservoirs on the island.

A situation such as this in the month of August has not been recorded since 1993, when the country faced another acute drought. Specialists Juan Petras and Margarita Fontoba from the hydrographic basins committee of the National Institute of Hydrographic Resources told this reporter that the driest province at the present time is Camagüey, with just 18% capacity.

Fontoba stated that the dam system surrounding the city of Camagüey is being interconnected to improve supplies for the inhabitants. In order to facilitate water supplies to Cuba’s third largest city, construction has begun on a 17-kilometer conduit for a pipeline network. This will transport water from the Máximo reservoir, with 34 million cubic meters of water, to the city.

Other regions suffering from lack of water are Holguín, Las Tunas, Guantánamo, in the east of the country and City of Havana in the west.

Up to August 13, the day on which the hurricane hit the island, only the reservoirs in Pinar del Río had marginally benefited from rainfall, by 35% and 47% respectively.

In order to reduce water shortages amongst the population of Holguín, an extensive 52-kilometer conduit is being built from the River Cauto – the longest river in Cuba – in order to feed the system of reservoirs close to the city, such as Giraba and Jíbara which are currently out of action because of lack of water. Another – Cacoyogüin - is currently filled at 19% of its capacity.

Like Holguín, in Las Tunas thousands of people are receiving water from water trucks. El Rincon reservoir, the largest supplier for the provincial capital, is currently at 21% of its capacity. Some of the work planned to alleviate the situation for the people of Las Tunas is the construction of a system to connect the Cayojo reservoir, containing the most water, with those that supply the city.

In Guantánamo in the east of the island, water supplies are very low, to the point that La Yaya reservoir – the largest in the region – is just 14% full. Other reservoirs such as Faustino Perez is 20% full and Clotilde is almost dry. The only one with significant supplies is Jaiba, at 76% of its capacity. In order to transfer water to the city, a system of networks is being developed.


Reservoirs in the eastern region of the capital such as La Coca and La Zarza are currently at 6% and 4% of their capacity respectively. The only basin with significant supplies is Bacuranao – 92% - due to the fact that it is almost impossible to transfer supplies because of the poor state of the conduit.

Some 94,000 inhabitants in the capital are receiving their supplies from water trucks. Faced with the gravity of the situation surrounding the City of Havana’s reservoirs, an old conductor is being restored to transport water from Bacuranao.

Specialists Petrus and Fontoba stated that the new conduit from Bacuranao reservoir will come into action when large-scale investments in the eastern part of the island – currently the worst hit by the drought – are completed.


The situation in the eastern part of the island is particularly complicated and is being met by a special national government program. In Holguín, 700-plus kilometers east of Havana, the country’s largest hydraulic works, a 52.5-kilometer conduit to supply 500 liters of water per second to the provincial capital from the River Cauto in neighboring Granma province, is nearing completion.

Touring the affected region, Vice President Carlos Lage noted that only 500 meters of piping remains to be laid before some 300,000 people in Holguín begin to feel the benefits.

In Camagûey, Lage supervised works underway on the Atalaya reservoir to improve water supplies to the city of Nuevitas and the Santa Lucía tourism complex, and attended the opening of the Tínima reservoir pumping station, one of three designed to improve the flow to the provincial capital. As an alternative, 18 of the largest consumers of water in Camagûey, where 160,000 persons are being supplied by cistern trucks, are being separated from the aqueduct system and will have their own wells.

In October, another 22-kilometer conduit and pumping station is be constructed in Las Tunas to supply the provincial capital there, with an estimated completion time of six months.

Member Comments

On September 03, 2004, Bill wrote:

What about hurricane Frances? Is eastern Cuba finally getting some rainfall?