The Community That Thirsts
By Jesús Aguado
The lack of water at the rural community of El Pedregudo is a serious problem, noted the delgada (liaison for the community with the city hall) Ángeles Pacheco. “We want to move the consciences and the hearts of the local authorities. I want them to hear us because we are human beings, and we live in a place where, literally, there is nothing. We want them to think of our children.”
In 2014 the local administration benefited the inhabitants of this community and others with solar cells. Then they did have electricity. However, water was still a necessity when Atención visited the community in January 2015. Priscila, a 9-year-old student at that time, commented that she was very happy because now she was able to dance, listen to music, and watch the telenovelas (soap operas). Later, the authorities placed a community water tank in El Pedregudo. The administration delivered potable water every three weeks (10 thousand liters), but now they receive fewer than three thousand liters and sometimes nothing.
Delegada Ángeles Pacheco showed Atención how they have to carry water from a pond located a 20-minute walk from the community. It is situated in the upper part of Jalpa, bordering with the state of Querétaro. Here, commented Pacheco, “the water is murky. It has worms. The animals, our children, and we drink this water because the local administration has not helped us.”
Pacheco also commented that she has gone to the direction of Public Services several times to request water service, but the directors’ assistant has told her, “We cannot deliver water because the road is in very bad shape. What if a tanker truck has a flat tire and the car breaks down? Are you going to pay for fixing it?”
“The truth is,” noted Pacheco, “that we cannot pay for it. We are poor.”
When we asked her to describe her community, it matched with what Atención saw in 2015 and during the recent visit this year. “It is a community far away from all things, from the convenience stores. We do not even have one because it is difficult to bring things here. If you get to Jalpa, you have to hike to the mountain. There are five families in the place (nine children).”
The husbands are not with the women because they work in Celaya, Mexico City, or Querétaro. “They stay there for three weeks or even a month. They prefer to save money and bring it to us instead spending it on transportation” said another woman.
According toPacheco, the lack of water is not because of the bad shape of the road but due to the lack of will from the authorities. She remarked, “They deliver water to El Pinalillo, a community nearby, and from there it is easier to get here.” In the small construction used as a classroom, she pointed out another water container that has been without a drop of water for months.
The Director Made a Commitment
Alfonso Sautto, director of Public Services, granted an interview to this newspaper. He said that the administration has 10 water trucks that deliver potable water to 70 rural communities. He highlighted that currently the trucks have new tires (priced at 4800 pesos each), and he commented that he asked the drivers to take care of the communities. Sautto acknowledged that he does not know the road to El Pedregudo, but the employees have told him that the road is in bad condition. (Atención verified that it is not that difficult to get there; we arrived in a Jeep Liberty.) He assured that this week he will personally visit the community and will go with the director of Public Works to make a plan for improving the road. He also assured that the community will have the water one way or another. Sautto finally made the commitment to hand over a report to Atención after his visit to the place.
Pacheco and Gloria Moreno—another señora from the area—commented that if the local administration fixes the road, they have stones and tepetate for it. All they need is somebody to do it.
The Tank of El Pinalillo
Gloria Moreno commented that currently the women of the community are working, building stone walls in order to avoid erosion in a ravine. That, she said, was the condition from the government for giving us water from a tank (to harvest rainfall) that is under construction in El Pinalillo. In fact, a cistern was constructed in El Pedregudo and through pipes—already set—the water will arrive. “We are working very hard, and we hope we can have water in one more year.”
Osvaldo García, director of Social and Human Development, commented that the local administration is working with the federation on this project (with the National Commission of Arid Zones), and that it has a cost of 4 million, 259 thousand pesos. The hydraulic construction will be done by June of this year.