Shortage of drinking water in Montevideo getting critical
Montevideo Mayor Carolina Cosse will ask the National Emergency System (Sinae) to step in as the shortage of drinking water in the Uruguayan capital gets more and more serious. The city and the Metropolitan area is feared to run out of drinking water in between 20 to 30 days due to lack of rainfall.
The drought that Uruguay is going through, the most important in the last century according to the Uruguayan Institute of Meteorology (Inumet), generated a situation that led to the water coming out of the taps in the metropolitan area having an unusual salty taste and that certain groups of the population are advised to avoid it.
We can see a situation in which, in 20 or 30 days, if nothing changes, we will no longer have drinkable water, said Cosse after a meeting with authorities from the OSE state-owned water company, which is taking a number of measures to avoid a worst-case scenario.
The Municipality of Montevideo (IM) is going to propose to the National Emergency System (Sinae) to declare an alert situation, in the understanding that this declaration is a call for attention to the population so that, among all of us, first we understand the situation we are in and, second, each and every one of us takes our actions of responsibility in our daily lives.
It seems sensible to think that we should not use running water, from the tap, to wash the car, to give an example. So, from the Municipality of Montevideo, we are going to make that proposal, that we understand that we are in a situation of alert, Cosse said.
From the IM we are revealing the wells at our disposal, but we also opened a register through WhatsApp 092250260. We have already received more than 30 volunteers who have given us their place and the conditions of their well, she added.
”All the institutions that surround us here have started to survey in some way available wells, the OSE has an outstanding role in that sense, and what we have agreed upon is within the framework of the Cecoed (Departmental Emergency Coordinating Center) which is the committee that from a regulatory point of view brings down to earth the agreements we reached here, to generate a work team and unify this survey of wells and the tasks that this demands, because once we have found that there is a well in a place we have to go to sample, to measure, and calculate what has to be done to the water that comes out of there so that it is drinkable or usable water, she insisted.
The OSE has informed us of its intention to incorporate tanker trucks to distribute drinking water, especially in the most vulnerable areas; in particular, it has expressed its willingness to cover hospitals and dialysis centers, and even to be able to reach schools. And we have agreed to work together within the framework of Cecoed, on the logistics of these trucks because these trucks, which will surely be, hopefully, more than 50, will have to move several times a day through Montevideo and therefore we require tight coordination of logistics, the mayor added.
We have a crisis and we have to recognize it, we must not be in denial, Cosse went on. Wouldn’t it be about time we put restrictions on consumption? Wouldn’t it be the time to bring water from somewhere else? she wondered.
Cosse also said that jerry cans of water that the polyclinics will prescribe have already arrived at the Mercado Modelo, from where they will be distributed to medical centers.
On Monday, the city hall went out to measure the quality of the water in the polyclinics, it was bad, very bad and we went out again to measure it on Wednesday and it was worse, Cosse said. As a result of these measurements, the IM decided to prescribe bottled water in its polyclinics.
To distribute drinking water, especially in the most vulnerable areas, and in particular it has expressed its willingness to cover hospitals and dialysis centers, we have agreed to work together in the framework of CECOED in what implies the logistics of those trucks, because those trucks, which hopefully will be more than 50, are going to have to move several times a day in Montevideo and therefore we require a tight coordination of logistics, Cosse detailed.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Robert Bouvier acknowledged last week that the water is not drinkable in the perfect definition of potability, although it is drinkable and consumable.
Drinking water is defined as water fit for human consumption, which does not represent health risks or does not generate rejection”, as stated in Decree 375/01, dated Nov. 11, 2011.