Many rural water systems reported to endanger users

The nation’s regulatory agency issued a grim report Wednesday on the state of rural water systems.

The agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, said that inspectors visited 25 systems and found problems in 75 percent that endangered the health of the users.

The agency said that the problems involved the water source, or the storage facilities or the distribution network.

These are what are called asociaciones administradoras de acueductos rurales of ASADAS. They are not part of the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the country’s major water provider. Still, the Autoridad said that nearly 24 percent of the country’s population gets water from one of these rural systems.

The basic problem seems to be that the associations do not have money for experienced help, continual monitoring or infrastructure.

For example, the Autoridad said that many rely on testing by the national water company’s Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas but that these tests are sporadic and incomplete. The water system administrations are not checking for a host of other factors that influence water quality, said the Autoridad. That includes the existence of bacteria in the water, it said.

The report also said that many systems count on plumbers or unskilled labor to keep the system running.

The Autoridad said that it has ordered the rural systems to install meters so it can collect reasonable fees from users, but that many systems had not done this. It promised new regulations to improve the income of the rural systems.

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