Valledupar is built on obsolete networks


Mrs. María was eating a ripe mango, sitting on a plastic chair, under the protection of a shade tree that was just growing in front of her house. There La Calle approached her, at ten in the morning, to ask her about the sewage flooding problems they had in the homes in the Brisas de La Popa neighborhood, according to what the intervening manager of the Public Services Company had stated. from Valledupar (Emdupar), in a socialization he made before the Cesar Assembly: “because Emdupar had its sewage networks and they built the houses on top of our networks; In such a way, that the inspection pits, which you call the manjoles, were many in the living rooms, in the kitchen of the house and we could not enter with the equipment to uncover those networks; Obviously, they collapsed and sewage began to flow into the living room and other parts of the house. It was a health emergency,” Pablo Andrés Jaramillo Reyes told the deputies of the Caesarense Duma.

Manuel Arias

Mrs. María took the mango out of her mouth, wiped the yellow of the fruit smeared on the corner of her lips with the torso of her right hand, and shook her head in denial. “Just tell you that we don’t even have sewage here,” she said. Zigzagging along the uncovered street full of stones appeared Manuel Arias, who seemed to be her son. He went into the kitchen and left the lunch purchases that he had just brought from the store on the counter. “It was flooding over there on the corner, half a block from here,” he responded to La Calle, as he approached the threshold of the front door again; Then, he walked with the journalists, again on the cobblestone road, and showed the manjoles (which Jaramillo Reyes insists on calling by the technical name of inspection wells) that collapsed. “You couldn’t walk here because of the buoyant shithole there was,” he remembers with his face wrinkled in disgust.

That is the street that divides the Divino Niño neighborhood from Brisas de La Popa. Manuel Arias has been living in the sector for 15 years. “We don’t have sewage, we still use septic tanks,” he insists. “On that side, by the Divine Child, they do have them,” he clarifies. “What did affect us in Brisas de La Popa was the stench of the water that came out of these manjoles: this was straight shit,” he says. The Emdupar intervening manager assured the deputies that “immediately, we made a contingency plan. We looked at alternatives, we did not contract the work out to others: we did it with our own personnel. With less than 100 million pesos, we did all that work. 420 meters of PVC pipe were installed, 7 inspection wells were built and we provided a decent service to this neighborhood.”

Excellent and abundant water, but it is lost

Pablo Jaramillo Reyes

Pablo Jaramillo Reyes agrees that Valledupar’s water remains one of the best in Colombia. And, he assures, it is one of the most economical in the country: in other cities, “it exceeds three thousand pesos per cubic meter; In Valledupar, in stratum four, it is 1,250 pesos per cubic meter,” he says. And he adds: “Perhaps that is why there is also a lot of water waste: more than 55% of water, for technical and commercial reasons, is lost.” It is alarming how Valledupar, with 560 thousand inhabitants, captures the same amount of water as Bucaramanga, which has 1 million 300 thousand inhabitants. Here we are talking about 550 thousand inhabitants. With this, those from the Bucaramanga aqueduct “were terrified,” says Jaramillo Reyes.

Mrs. María has good water, not only to wash the mangoes she eats, but also to wash herself after she finishes enjoying the fruit.

Mrs. María and Manuel Arias receive a visit from a neighbor

Technical reasons: irresponsible growth

In Emdupar “there was no loss reduction plan. Hydraulic sectorization was not implemented in the distribution network: it was proposed since 2014, but was never implemented. And the city grew. That hydraulic modeling from 2014 cannot be used today because the city has grown by more than 20-30% in population and in a disorderly manner, with many subnormal neighborhoods,” warns Jaramillo. The network registry was outdated; So, in many places there is some damage and when Emdupar goes to the field to look, they find that these networks are not inventoried: “there is a huge problem there. These are delays that must be urgently corrected. Because part of the work of reducing losses is also to identify the networks and carry out this hydraulic sectorization to see what the priorities are and how we manage to close circuits and install macro meters to detect how much is in each sector, how much water is entering it and how much water “We are taking the Ptar,” says Jaramillo.

The neighborhood of Mrs. María and Manuel Arias may be among those whose networks are not inventoried by Emdupar, despite the fact that they receive drinking water.

Another technical reason is that they built avenues over the old aqueduct networks. “Sierra Nevada Avenue was built 10 years ago and, practically, they did not change the Emdupar networks: we have cement pipes there. And the same thing happens on Avenida Simón Bolívar and in a large part of the avenues of Valledupar. With the aggravating factor that there are also sewage networks,” the intervening manager denounces; In addition, he says, they did not leave the bed of sand that protects those pipes, but rather they left river stones on top: “this, with the footsteps of the vehicles, has been breaking the pipe. This year, it has broken several times.” He also clarifies that these networks should go close to the platform, but they are in the middle of the road: when they break, fixing them causes traffic to collapse. “We have to take the weekend to make these repairs because otherwise, the city traffic will also collapse.”

They also steal water to take to other populations

Jaramillo Reyes put his finger on the wound with another worrying issue of the loss of drinking water in Valledupar. “It is true that the water from Valledupar is reaching La Guajira, Magdalena, north of Cesar. And over there in El Difícil, in some places, they say buy water from the Valley, which is good. And that’s how they sell it and the sad thing is that we don’t sell the water to anyone. All that water is captured illegally. And they are losses. They take it out in tank trucks,” he says.

He asked for the support of the deputies to help prevent those tank trucks that are leaving every day to other municipalities, from doing so without prior regulation. “Please buy the water from us: let’s make an agreement to sell them the water in bulk, but don’t continue taking water from the hydrants, illegally, as they are currently doing,” he pleaded. The greatest amount of water loss in Emdupar is imperceptible, “we don’t see it, but we deduce that it is due to the tank cars. We have 2.4 million cubic meters of water lost per month. And most of it corresponds to the tank trucks, which take it out of the city. The Cesar is already short and they send water to La Guajira and the Magdalena. A tank car, the one that carries the least, carries 10 cubic meters. They leave in the early morning hours. They can fill everything in a house with half a hose and it is noticeable to us.”

Wrong connections: another problem

Teresa Granados

Mrs. Teresa Granados ate at her dining room table. La Calle identified her through the window that faces outside. “If it’s breakfast, it’s too late; and if it’s lunch, it’s too early,” the journalist told him jokingly. “It’s breakfast because I was having some medical tests,” she responded, smiling. She lives in the Divino Niño neighborhood and her house was flooded by the sewage that came out of the siphons.

“We have many wrong connections because people, irregularly, connect the river sewer with the sanitary sewer; That is, they connect the rainwater sewer with the blackwater sewer and that is what we call wrong connections; Then, the wells or manjoles collapse, which are only designed for sewage or wastewater and their flow is not made to withstand that rainwater,” says Jaramillo Reyes.

Mrs. Teresa has not installed what she calls “the check,” which is the device that prevents the entry of sewage when the street inspection wells overflow. “And I think that manjol was not well arranged,” she says. When she gives her testimony, she returns to the table to finish her breakfast: Mrs. María, meanwhile, was cleaning her hands in the neighboring neighborhood, after throwing away the mango seed that she had just eaten.

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