A few days ago, the town well, literally, ran dry. The river water source which still provides the bulk of our supply had been turned off as happens here at this time of year, usually because of mud: low levels? turbulence? Don't know why. In any event our community's hard-earned new clean water source couldn't keep up with demand by itself. The fresh water source bubbles out of the hills and rocks about fifteen kilometers from here. At its beginning, it is powerful and ample, but by the time it threads its way up and down hills, along roads and across streams to our colonia, it is not so powerful. It is supposed to be stored in a tank. We saw where the tank was to be built, but I'm not entirely sure it exists yet. Somehow, that water and the river water which has traditionally been our supply get mixed and delivered to all the houses via hose.
We store water at our house on the roof in a tinaca which holds several days' worth of water in reserve. But we kind of lost track of when the water was on in the colonia and when it was off since this year for the first time, when the river source is turned off, the spring source continues, at least for awhile. However, the spring source by itself doesn't always deliver enough pressure for water to get pumped up to the tinaca, and it had been coming out in a kind of weak stream for awhile.. So Jim climbed on the roof and and found it more than half empty (less than half full?) So we joined our neighbors trekking to the nearby spring for back-up supplies (As I've mentioned, we have quite a number of springs in our area. They aren't, on the whole, powerful enough for anything but as a supplement to a community's water supply.) We have the benefit of a car, many people don't. And most of them don't have tinacas, so they don't have a back-up supply.Thus in dry spells you see lots of folks trudging along the road encumbered with collections of containers. Some people use the spring water as drinking water, but it isn't monitored so we don't, although I have to tell you, we have drunk spring water, both from the spring closest to our colonia and from a couple of others and never gotten sick. At now-19 pesos for the biggest container of bottled water which holds nineteen liters (we think) it's too expensive for a lot of people to buy their drinking water. And boiling drinking water requires fuel for heat which can also be a dilemma.
The spring water comes out of its pipe and the crevices in adjoining rocks deliciously cold any time at all and as I mentioned in the past, people come by to shower in it, to wash their cars with it, just to cool off in it even when they don't use it as a main water source.
Tinacas are ubiquitous on houses in Mexico outside of poor areas. Our tinaca is surrounded on three sides by a brick wall -- I guess the original owner thought it was ugly. However, this makes it difficult for me to get a good picture to show you, but here's one that'll give you an idea.
The spring is along the road I showed you pictures of on blogs dealing with when the bridge was broken. We park and generally I watch and Jim bears the
burdens. Here he is going down to the spring.
The river you see in the upper left quadrant is the river after the water falls river you see from our house blends with the river at the bottom of our property. Although the latter is closer, the only time we ever see it from our house is when it rises very high after torrential rains.
Looking upstream here, you see the bridge we cross when we turn right instead of left to go to Xico instead of Coatepec.
The foundation of this bridge is really strong: it is an old railroad bridge. It, too, was recently repaired and remodelled. We were a little disappointed because we wanted to give you a thrill ride over the pre-repair version which had broken railings and chunks of concrete missing. But the BASE is VERY STRONG. There was a little shrine half-way across the old bridge. It got moved to the end of the bridge and got much fancier. Whenever we come home from Xico around dusk, we see people carefully lighting the candles in it.
Here is Jim getting water from the spring (it's channeled through a pipe).
And here he's putting the water in the Rav 4 while another man waits to go down. The man didn't have any buckets or anything. He might have been going to get a drink or take a shower. People do that all the time. The water is always cool and refreshing.
As I've been saying, water shortages and lack of clean water are big deals here. Below is a translation of an article from the Diario de Xalapa about water. It is commentary by several experts in our area and it was on the front page. The original article in Spanish is here.
And here is my rather clunky translation.
León/Diario de Xalapa
Academics of the Institute of Ecology and
the University of Veracruz asserted that it was urgent to develop concrete measures
to conserve water in the region, declaring that there was no cultural pressure
to do so. They were critical of the the
fact that at present everyone wants simply
wants to dig more wells to get water instead of thinking first of how to
regenerate it. This is a grave
situation, they agreed, because they are draining our reserves. Furthermore,
they said, instead of saving water we can save, people want to get it away from
their houses as fast as they can. For
instance, when it rains, the water is drained away instead of put in storage
areas which would aid in conserving the water tables of the region. The academics maintain one must ad problems of the chaotic growth