Portrerillos Water Situation Update

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.

Thank you,
Diane Fessenden

10 thoughts on “Portrerillos Water Situation Update

  1. We feel fortunate. Perhaps I’m jinxing myself by even saying anything, but our finca seems to be well connected and seldom has problems. We’re in Potrerillos Arriba and if you are desperate, bring your jugs to us and we’ll be happy to help.

    Cameo Wines, David and Kersti

  2. The recent repairs have given us more water and water pressure in Potrerillos Arriba than we have had since renting and we were without water for 3 days, which apparently nothing from what others have experienced. We had been warned by the Lessor of the property that this could happen so, we stocked up on drinking water, boiled and bottled sediment filtered water in new 5 gallon jugs, and there were already about 30 jugs of sediment filtered only jugs for the toilets.

    It was still rough. We, too, have water to share. Cell 6250-9359; Vonage 702-209-2949, or e-mail Jim at j_alexa1948@yahoo.com.

  3. It seems the government has plenty of money to expand the road from David to
    Boquete into a freeway and also to expand the David Airport to handle international flights to accommodate tourism. Now. when all those tourists arrive to spend all their money and they can’t get a glass of clean or dirty water, and they can’t take a shower or brush their teeth, do you really believe that they will recommend coming to Chiriqui to all their friends and relatives for vacations. Panama better get it’s act together before Cuba opens up or they will never see a tourist dollar enter the country again.

  4. I received the following from Diane this morning.

    This message was sent out on Boquete News this morning. We are not alone with this problem

    This message is being sent as a community service, without the intent of stirring up a dialogue about the water situation in portions of Boquete.
    No responses will be disseminated via News Boquete.

    There are fairly widespread reports of water problems in the Volcancito and Alto Boquete areas (as far as Plaza San Francisco).
    The water problem topic includes reports of no water, and some of very little water pressure.
    In general these are reports over an extended period of time, possibly as much as three weeks.
    Some reports say as many as about 5,000 people may be affected.
    For the record, none of these claims or numbers can be verified by authoritative sources.

    The purpose of this message is to make you aware of a possible agent to assist in mitigating (rectifying?) the water situation.
    The recommendation is to file a report with the Ministry of Heath — because this is a health issue.
    Their telephone number is 311.
    Unfortunately for the extranjeros who do not speak Spanish, the people who answer that telephone number typically will not be bilingual.
    For those who are Spanish challenged and wanting to file a water problem report, perhaps a neighbor or housekeeper, etc., could assist in making the telephone report.

  5. It’s my understanding that Boquete’s water system is (uniquely) owned and operated by Boquete. The water systems elsewhere are operated by IDAAN. We live at the southern end of the Boquete district. A few weeks ago when road construction started up again on the Boquete/David road, we started to have water outages…or low water pressure. This was after a 2 or 3 month period of constant water pressure (when road construction was on hiatus). Currently, it seems the water is shut down Saturday night and then returns sometime Sunday or early Monday morning. For us it is not a big problem since we have reserve water tanks. However…maybe 10 months ago, I remember the water was out for 10 days. Life did get a little challenging then.

    Overall, when I hear about the water problems of others in Chiriqui Province, I feel fortunate.

  6. Hello All,
    You were writing this about 4 yrs ago. What is the water situation like now? Any good news? I am wanting to come and check out Panama for my first time and if I love it- buy a place. Coming in green….

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