Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Water Situation

Since our last post about the water woes around here, we’ve had enough water. We haven’t had enough water that we’re comfortable, but by managing the supply to keep our tanks as full as possible, and by conserving and asking our guests to conserve, we’ve managed not to run out before the water flows in the public pipe and our catch-tank is refilled.

However, we now haven’t had water in the pipe in well over a week.

We’ve taken our two 200-gallon tanks down from the hill and put them in the back of Tinkerbell and rigged up a system so we can pump the water from the tanks in the bed of the truck into either the catch-tank or directly up the hill to the gravity feed tanks without any bucket hauling.

Tom went into 7 Miles this morning and filled the two tanks, and our new system seems to work – well enough that we decided I could do some laundry and we can get more water from 7 Miles in the next couple of days and keep hoping that either the pipe water starts to run again or we get a couple of good thunderstorms. We’ve had threats of thunderstorms and some rumbles, but so far we haven’t had enough rain to make a difference with our water situation.

We can’t complain too much since San Antonio is heading into its third month without any water, and as I said in a previous blog entry, we’re lucky to have Tinkerbell, the 200-gallon tanks, and a pump so it’s inconvenient but not too physically difficult to get water. However, it’s a very frustrating situation because the problem could be fixed. Tom talked to people in 7 Miles this morning about what’s causing this problem, and they say it’s as simple as a pipe being rerouted so that instead of feeding the town from the 600 foot drop out of the Mountain Pine Ridge, the town is being fed from a reserve tank which is only 200 feet above the town. By rerouting the pipe, they’ve significantly reduced the water pressure, and not only are San Antonio and everybody on this end of the pipe without water, but the pressure is only high enough to supply about half of the village of 7 Miles and it has nothing to do with water supply. When Tom asked if the Water Board has plans to fix it, his queries were met with shrugs and averted eyes since people are afraid to complain to the new Water Board for fear their supply will be permanently cut off. Some people are just resigned to the fact that the water supply always runs short in the dry season, which will last for about another three weeks, so even though they’re hearing that the problem could be fixed now, they think it will resolve itself in a few weeks. That remains to be seen, and right now we’re going to sit tight and do what everybody else is doing.

This is especially difficult for Tom, but he’s still standing by his resolution to stay out of the water politics around here since the Water Board takeover meeting a year ago when the authorities told him the water was none of his business and threatened our residency status if Tom chose to make a fuss. For the most part, we love the fact that everybody in Belize is close enough to the government to be able to talk to any official and make a difference, but in a situation like this, it’s difficult. When the individual is big enough to make a difference, the individual is also big enough to be a target if crooked officials are displeased. If this goes too far – for example if it looks like we’re going to be permanently without water – we’ll step up and start making noise, but in the meantime we’ll do what everybody else is doing, and just manage for ourselves.

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