Things to Consider

I was talking to a friend the other day in El Rey and he brought up the growing water problems in and around David. I guess I shouldn’t limit it to David, because I think the problem is one that is in much of Chiriquí, if not all of Panama.

The problem is that the infrastructure is not sufficient to handle the current population and with the growth that has occurred in the last few years, it has gotten worse.

When you go to buy or rent a house or apartment you really need to find out how the service is for electricity, telephone, water, Internet and all of the items that you are most interested in. Don’t ask the developer or owner. They will always tell you that there is no problem.

The fact is, that in much of David, there isn’t sufficient water pressure to take a decent shower throughout the day. Many people have water in the morning and the evening. I have heard rumors that some areas are planning on cutting off water on certain days.

So far, where I live, there isn’t much of a problem. Several times a year, I will be without water, but it normally is only for a mater of hours. This is not something you would normally think about if you are moving from the US or many other parts of the world.

There is a huge apartment building that is scheduled to be built (photo above). I originally posted about it HERE. I think it is going to be around 35 stories high. Of course it hasn’t been built and I will believe it when I see it. My concern would be two things. One is the continual earthquake tremors that this area has. I live in a three story apartment building and on a couple of the recent shakes, I have felt a tremendous amount of movement. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like on the 35th floor.

Then, assuming that the structure has been built to seismic construction standards (is there such a thing in Panama) I wonder how they are going to get water up to the 35th floor. Maybe it is really going to be a 36 floor building and one floor will be used for a massive water pump and water holding tank.

When I first moved here I had to talk to the locals to find out if where I was going to rent could get telephone, Internet and had good water supply. The landlord assured me that I had no problem. When I talked to others that were already living there, I found that the telephone connection had never been made to the current houses and they had lived there for over 1 ½ years. Also when I checked, I found that there were major outages in water.

If you are planning on building , buying or renting in Chiriquí, do yourself a favor and ask those that live in the area you are considering for the real facts before you plop your money down.

20 thoughts on “Things to Consider

  1. I read the “on line” newspapers, in Spanish, for Panama every day. Last week there was a news item posted saying that the head of the Water Authority had put the governor of Chiriqui on notice that there would be water rationing measures beginning in parts of Chiriqui this week, including David, Puerto Armuelles, etc.
    I would imagine that a “cistern” is an absolute necessity when renting or buying or building a house?

  2. Hi Tony. I haven’t heard of any cisterns, but many have reserve tanks and pumps to provide enough pressure for the water. Without sufficient pressure, instant on hot water heaters will not work.

  3. there’s a new water line being dug in along side the pan-am west of david at this moment, it’s at least 12”dia. i believe it’s going up the via boqueron to a reservoir or other good source of water. so hang in there but… don’t hold yer breath.

    norm : ))~

  4. hold your breath in Panama? we all know better, only taxi’s can get you somewhere on time from my experience

  5. I collect rain water from my roof and store it in large cement tanks that are under my porch. The pump pulls the water up into a pressure tank and it is filtered before entering the house. I have to do regular maintenance on the tanks such as repainting with a mastic – there is one available that is safe for drinking water. I find that rain water is so much nicer for washing clothes and bathing – softer. It surprises me that there is so little rain water collection here.

  6. San Pablo viejo has it’s own water system of wells & tanks that works pretty well, not great pressure but it rarely goes off. The area is growing, there are 2 housing developments & new business along the auto pista. I don’t know of any pending problems but the annual water board meeting is this Sunday so I’ll find out.

  7. Here in Ivu Primavera, an older neighborhood off the airport road, we have water at night. By seven or eight in the morning, it slows to a trickle. Some days, no water at all. By evening, there’s water, enough to shower or water plants. It’s this way rainy season or dry.
    We will explore a water tank and pump. The house is a rent house, so we’ll invest only if we can take the system when we go.
    having spent four months in Volcan, where we would be without water often, for days at a time, we’ve just learned to shower early, wash dishes late, and put the one macetera (flowerbox) on a timer, so it waters itself at three in the morning.

  8. Don,
    Like I’ve said here & elsewhere. People concerned about many of the items we take for granted should look into some land with its own water source, good soil and decent access. Make sure you check the place out thoroughly, talk directly with neighbors. We like the small country locale, away from cities 1/2 to 1 hour. Rural but NOT isolated. ALSO, people should consider the negative effect on property values should water be an issue. Don’t be a victim! Do like Don says and check water supply dynamics well BEFORE you sign any purchase contract! For example, we do not live in a touristy retirement community. There is no threat of a burgeoning expat population soaking up much of anything here..

    Maybe these places are tightening up immigration because of the stress on services and the negative effect shortages of things like water are having on the local populations.. That’d be my guess, along with CAFTA (different story).

    Anyhow, do without water for awhile and you’ll never take it for granted…UNTIL the next time it goes out! Don’t fret though, I heard thunder over here today and we even had 1/2 an hour of rain the other day! First rain in 3 months! Before long, you’ll hate the downpours enough to wish summer never ended!!

  9. I know that my esposa has problems all the time with her water. When I’m down there I generally have to shower with water that has been saved in a 5 gallon food bucket. It certainly is a problem. She is cursing about it all the time, especially when she is doing laundry.

  10. And the problem will continue to get worse with more people moving in. I hope someone with authority is watching the problem. I have seen many protests by people in some area that are having water problems.

  11. Evelyn…
    i collect rainwater for drinking. in a downpour, i can fill a 5gal jug in 5 minutes flat with a 4ft x 4ft collector, of course, i get real thirsty in the dry season. if i ever get a house of my own, i’ll ramp up.

    norm : ))~

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