I received the following update along with referenced photos on the Potrerillos Water situation from Diane.
Well, another week has gone by and another visit, my third, to the office of Idaan in David. During this visit it was revealed that 10 more towns in Chiriqui Province have reported drastic problems within their water systems. David and Algarobas (sp) were added last week. This weekend Bugaba and Alane developed similar problems.
The town of Potrerillos has some serious problems but I feel because we are just a bedroom community and so many areas with financial influence have been affected, we are put to the end of the list again.
The Chiriqui office of Idaan only has one (1) backhoe in the entire province to facilitate repairs. Unfortunately, this backhoe is being used in a different area and is not scheduled to be brought into Potrerillos any time soon. All repair being done to the water system is, therefore, being done manually with pick and shovels.
The field engineer appointed to work on the water system in Potrerillos does not have a vehicle at his disposal. Therefore, he must walk from point to point, which takes several hours each day. We should buy him a new pair of boots – after this is all over. I do know that every connection in town has been visited by this engineer.
He has identified some major problems. He has had one major 10″ valve replaced in a strategic location. Several big obstructions within the water pipes have been identified and corrected. All this digging has been done by hand labor.
It was reported to me on my second visit to Idaan that the problem at the toma (water source) had been addressed. The official I have been meeting with firmly believed the problems had been corrected. That is until I produced photos which were taken this Sunday, Jan 27th, by Greg Meyers. I had had these photos enlarged to show the details within that could not be overlooked. While I was sitting in the office the order went out to a field engineer, Julio, to get to the toma today, Jan 29th, and fix tubes and leaks,replace the filters that have been damaged. Now we have to remember this will involve physically carrying all the supplies up to the point of repairs. One can not just drive up to the toma.
Without water one can not survive. I have pointed out that many homes in the affected area have newborn babies or elderly who are ill and require water for health care. I have not had a drop of Idaan water in 2 weeks, many residents have been without water for a longer period of time.
I have suggested the use of water tankers to be placed in strategic locations to provide free water to those who have been doing without. I am sure that all the water tankers will be in use for Carnival which begins in less than 2 weeks time.
I suggested to Idaan they hold a public meeting to inform the residents what is going on and what they are doing to improve the situation. I got the impression they were hesitant to do this. Why?
I suggested to Idaan that several backhoes were available in the village. Why couldn’t these backhoes be contracted out to Idaan, under the supervision of an Idaan engineer to assist in repairing or replacing sections of the line which are defective? It is illegal for ANYONE, not an Idaan employee or authorized by Idaan, to change, correct or repair any part of the system.
Here in Panama it is not the squeeky wheel which gets the grease. It is only when the wheel falls off that it is taken care of.