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Taking advantage of rainwater

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

In San Miguel de Allende there are more than 500 rural communities, and most of them are marginalized and do not have basic services such as potable water. For that reason, the Rotary Club Medio Día A.C., CEDESA (Center for Agricultural Development) and SAPASMA (Water and Drainage Authority of San Miguel de Allende) have worked together to construct cisterns to collect rainwater.

Cisterns project

The water collection project has been up and running for more than a decade. According to Laura Stewart from the Rotary Club, the Club seeks financial resources and CEDESA is in charge of building the cisterns. In 2008 they started working with SAPASMA, and so far they have built 126 cisterns at schools and private residences. The decision to construct a cistern is based on community participation and commitment, need, shortage and water contamination. Some of the communities that have benefited from this collaboration are La Ciénega de Juana Ruiz, Presita de Santa Rosa, Cinco Señores and Loma de Cocinas, among others. In January and February, the construction of 59 cisterns was concluded.

Characteristics of the cisterns

The head of the water authority, Francisco Jiménez, said that the cisterns have a capacity of 12,000 liters and can provide this vital fluid to a family of 10 for a year if they use the water only for drinking and cooking (estimating that each person drinks 2 liters of water and uses 1.25 liters for cooking per day). The rainwater is collected from the roof and carried through pipes to the collector. The water must be boiled or purified with chlorine.

The case of Charco del Ingenio

In December, El Charco del Ingenio denounced a failure in the pumping system of the sewage collector in Palmita de Landeta, operated by the SAPASMA, and which caused the spillage of more than 300,000 liters of sewage water into the La Longaniza stream. In January, Camilo Gutiérrez, president of the board of SAPASMA, talked to Atención and said that there were people working on a report who would investigate the causes of the system failure, and also commented that they were cleaning up the stream, which runs across Parque Landeta, connects with Presa de las Colonias and continues through the El Charco ecological preserve.

Solution to the problem

Recently, Gutiérrez told Atención that they already have the report, which states that the damage was caused by a failure in the pumping system of the collector, which did not have enough power to pump the sewage to the collector in Fraccionamiento Ignacio Ramírez. For that reason, next week they will begin building a new and bigger collector with a more powerful pump at a cost of 2 million pesos.

The collector will be larger because Colonia Palmita de Landeta is constantly growing. If everything goes as planned, the new collector will be operational at the end of March. It will be equipped with an overflow pumping system to avoid spillage into the Longaniza stream. Gutiérrez added that cleanup of the stream continues, and that due to to the rains more water has accumulated. In the weeks to come, the report will be made public and sent to the State Commission of Water.

The president of the SAPASMA said that they are in touch with authorities from UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), which is in charge of the sewage treatment plant located in Landeta, in order to provide treated water for the area.

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