Where’s Our Water?

BY: DAVID FLORES

Daniel de la Rosa, acting director of Oomsapas, the city’s water supply agency, revealed that 40 percent of our city's water is stolen. Add to that the huge number of water leaks due to old, faulty and inefficient piping and the scarcity of water and you may have an explanation.

De la Rosa also said his agency’s revenue shows a delinquency rate of 60 percent. That’s the people that don’t pay their water bill. The water in Cabo is not expensive. A recent receipt for 18 cubic meters cost $10.50 USD. Buying from a water truck is indeed very expensive. Sixteen cubic meters can cost $95 bucks or more. That’s almost 10 times higher than city water.

A report from Mexico’s statistics institute (INEGI) revealed recently that the average household in Mexico uses 1,109 gallons of water per year. In Los Cabos, the average amount of water supply that a house receives from the city is only 207 gallons per year, through a system called “tandeo.”

That is, because the city rotates the water supply each year to a group of different barrios. This way, every barrio is supposed to get water pumped at least once a week. But it doesn’t work. Most of the time when the city pumps water, a pipe breaks under the pressure, a valve has to be closed and the leak repaired. That barrio didn’t get all the needed water that week and has to wait for the next one, the following week. Some barrios report that they only get water once a month, others every 2 weeks, but none once a week constantly.

That is why you see all those black tanks atop of each home. They are water reservoirs, mostly containing 200 gallons. More affluent residents build an underground concrete water “pila,” which accumulates up to 4,000 gallons – and this reduces the supply to their less wealthy neighbors.

The reasons behind the lack of water are that one, we live in a desertic area with very few inches of rain a year. There are only 3 dams in the state. And third and fourth, the high growth rate of the population, estimated at 16 percent a year, and the increasing number of hotels, condos and homes built. From now to the end of 2020, 5,000 more hotel rooms will be built, adding to the existing 17,000. Those hotels need workers and create a constant flow of immigration from other areas of Mexico.

The city has no plan to solve this situation. The existing desal plant on the Pacific side is already insufficient and the plan to build a second one has been tossed around for nearly 3 years. Bidding for its construction will be launched at the end of this year and it will take at least a year and a half to build it. Will it be too late? We think so.