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.
Raymundo 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
Carlos Iglesias, technical expert at the Institute of Ecology referred to the fact that when we speak of water conservation, we don’t think much how human beings behave in respect to water.
"Normally, what we do is send all the water not in the plumbing system far away. This is paradoxical because on the one hand we want to have water and on the other we want to get rid of it. For example, all the water which arrives as rain we waste: the first thing we do is put it in a pipe to get it away from our houses, we don't take advantage of it. What we are really doing is speedng up the loss of this vital liquid as if it were our enemy," he said.
Iglesias questioned why we don't make absorbing pools in front of every house and with which every citizen would be contributing to the replenishment of the water tables. To make an absorption well is the simplest thing in the world, it is only necessary to make a hole and fill it with large gravel and put a pipe so that when the water overflows there isn't a flooding problem.With something like this, we wouldn’t be wasting water but instead would be contributing in an effective manner to the regeneration of the water table.
Iglesias was adamant that we ought to work for a culture of water saving and that people could make absorption wells in the gardens of houses.
“I believe this is urgent because we are thinking of making deeper wells instead of thinking how to regenerate water in the first place. It is urgent to develop a cultue of water saving so that we don't suffer from a lack of water. It is urgent that we save all the water from rain that is possible and don't send it clean water into drainage pipes that go into rivers that are already generally contaminated.
Carlos Iglesias invited people in genral to reflect on this idea and revealed that, for example, in the Botanical Garden [in Xalapa] they have made retention wells for water and that when it rains, they have succeeded in capturing as much as six thousand liters of water in only an afternoon.
"That's a lot of water. If each one of us were to do the same, we would have a great deal of water and wouldn't continue to suffer for a lack of it," he asserted.
DEFORESTATON, CONTAMINATION AND URBAN GROWTH
For his part, Domingo Canales Espinoza, director of the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Veracruz, said that it is obvous that the most important factor in water shortages is deforestation. "There has been a huge amount of deforestation, especially in the bosque de nieblam especially the pine and oak on Cofre de Perote where we all know Xalapa’s water comes from.” Deforestation, he added, has been intense although in the last five years it has been reduced because of the interest of the government, society and the universities.
In Veracruz there is an strong system of vigilance regarding the forests, but the damage already caused is very important, he maintained and added that contamination of the sources of water and the rivers continues.
In referring to contamination, he said that the indiscriminate use of fertilizers of all kinds and of herbicides has been a factor. Those products have threatened all the watertables and also contribute to water's scarcity.
Domingo Canales declared that to resolve the problem of water and many others which afflict the world we must also resolve the problems of population growth and the growth of cities.