Esmeraldas Ecuador: Water Crisis, hundreds of thousands impacted

Posted on August 25, 2017 • Filed under: Ecuador, Ecuador Emergency (machine translated)The restoration of the drinking water system in Esmeraldas is uncertain. Until Thursday, August 25, 2017, in the afternoon, the technicians of the company EAPA-San Mateo were working on the construction of the bases to place a new pump, according to what had been foreseen. After these tasks, the plant must be tested for performance, which will take some time. The service may not be resumed this Friday as reported by the Emergency Operations Committee (COE). Emeralds have been without water since last Sunday (August 20), when two pumps from the catchment plant were damaged. Since then, 350,000 inhabitants of the Esmeraldas, Atacames and Rioverde cantons are without liquid. On Monday, the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) suspended classes to resume in one week. Esmeraldas district director of education Magaly Ramírez said that if there is no new resolution from the COE, classes will be restored next Monday, as announced in the resolution. If that were the case, the 76,000 students of 156 schools in Esmeraldas will have to return to their classrooms after a week of forced vacation due to lack of water. Mayor Lenin Lara is confident that the problem will be overcome by Monday. That is why he said that every effort is made to restore the service to more than 75% of the Esmeraldas canton, that is, about 150 000 people. Among the three cantons, the number of people affected 350 000 people, considering the floating population of tourists who visit Atacames , according to EAPA-San Mateo. Gabriela Rodríguez , mother of two children, says she does not know how her children will go to school if the neighborhood she lives in, June 5, has just arrived with a tanker with water. In that place they have not had the service since eight days and usually arrives twice a week. The situation in the boroughs is more serious. Families have opted to wash clothes in the Esmeraldas estuary. In the highlands, some people improvised latrines in the hills, because they do not have water to use their toilets. Alejandra Marín, from the El Embudo neighborhood in the upper area, said that during the last eight days she has bought up to two jerry cans a day to drink. “Buying water in drums costs us an average of USD 2 a day.” Álvaro Calderón, who until this week served as liquidator of the company EAPA-San Mateo, said that in the last two years the plant has had four shutdowns: two after the earthquake on April 16 and subsequent aftershocks, and two more per Damage to the pumps. The third damage occurred in February, when two bombs were affected and resulted in a suspension of service for more than five days. The last one happened last Sunday, with the damage of two of the three pumps that work in the catchment plant. According to Calderón, the deficiencies of the plant were reported by Mayor Lara in December of 2016, as responsible for the process of repowering the city’s drinking water system, but never responded. In this respect, the Burgomaestre commented that this was a work of EAPA-San Mateo, while progress in the process of transfer of this company to the Municipality, as it is in liquidation. Omar Estupiñán, executive president of EAPA, assured that the inconvenience of the plant is in the capture. Problems occur in summer, when water levels fall, so a new one must be built. Calderon explained that the new capture plant was not a priority in the repowering project. However, now the Municipality seeks, through a supplementary contract, to build it with an investment of USD 4 million. This new work would be part of the regional project of drinking water that runs from February 2016. According to the plans, one year after the signing of the contract already had to deliver water, but has spent a year and six months and still does not operate. According to the head of the municipal inspection of the regional project, Álex Estupiñán , the construction of the system registers an advance of 60% and will be delivered in 2018. The investment amounts to USD 130 million. As construction progresses, the complaints of Atacames hoteliers are frequent due to frequent shortages. Sara Moyano , president of the Atacames Tourism Chamber, said that hoteliers pay up to USD 60 for a tanker, that is, USD 20 more than before; Nevertheless, yesterday the tankers hired by Flopec helped in the distribution in that corner. To supply the vital liquid to the three cantons, 40 tankers have been contracted, which are supplied in the two EAPA shots, located in the south of the city. From there they leave to the neighborhoods and parishes in company of elements of the Navy and Police, to guarantee the delivery and that do not occur disadvantages. Read Article


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