Cuba Is Going Through Severe Drought

Zaza, the largest reservoir in Cuba, has only accumulated 15 percent of its total volume, due to the serious drought currently affecting the central region of the island, official sources reported today.

Yusliady Lorenzo Coca, deputy technical delegate for Water Resources in this province, explained to the news agency Prensa Latina that the reservoir currently has 147.96 million cubic meters of water, way below its total capacity, which is 20 million cubic meters.

The Zaza reservoir is an important source of water supply for agriculture and cattle raising, as well as for domestic and industrial use, in the province of Sancti Spiritus and in the whole Cuban central region.

Sancti Spiritus, one of the territories with more reservoir capacity, has only accumulated 18 percent of its total capacity, estimated at around 1.3 billion cubic meters, according to a report by the Company of Aqueduct and Sewer System.

The document also said that around 104,700 inhabitants from 55 communities in the province have been affected by the drought.

According to the Meteorology Institute, Cuba is going through the so-called period of scarce rainfall (November-April), with a deficit of accumulated water that has affected especially the central area and the provinces of Las Tunas and Guantanamo.

  • Published in Cuba

National emergency as Chile fights record forest fires

Drought, heat and commercial foresting have made it easier for fires to spread, killing 11 people and consuming entire towns.

Chile is fighting its worst wildfires on record. Government officials blame both climate change and human action for the blazes.

A decade-long drought has left the South American country tinder-dry and, together with higher than average temperatures, made it easy for the fires to spread. Forty-three people have been arrested and accused of arson.

Forest fires are a regular feature of the hot, dry Chilean summers, which last from December to February, but this years fires have devastated almost a quarter of a million square miles, leading to President Michelle Bachelet declaring a national emergency. “We have never seen anything on this scale in the history of Chile,” she said.

Flammable forests

In addition to local weather patterns, shaped by climate change, a review of Chiles wildfires published in the Global and Planetary Change journal warned that the “pattern, frequency and intensity” of wildfires in the country “has grown at an alarming rate in recent years, partly because of intensive forest management practices that have led to a large amount of flammable fuel in the countrys forests.

In the last few decades, closely planted eucalyptus and pine plantations have covered much of what was previously farmland or native forest. The native forests, with their undergrowth and biodiversity, enjoy much higher humidity, but the commercial forests tend to be dry.

Fire chiefs also blame a lack of fire prevention planning, including failure to provide fire breaks.

“This is a horror, a nightmare without end. Everything has burned”

The worst hit areas are the centre and south of Chile, which is a long, thin country, squeezed between the Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean. The capital, Santiago, is now wreathed in smoke, and images from NASA’s Earth Observatory also show big clouds of smoke covering most of the centre of the country.

So far, 11 people, including several firefighters, have died, thousands have been evacuated and entire towns have been consumed by the flames. Some of the vineyards in the Central Valley, home to many of Chile’s best known wines, have been badly damaged.

More than 11,000 firefighters, including police, military, and civilian personnel and volunteers, are fighting the flames. Other Latin American countries have sent teams and equipment. Temperatures of higher than 100°C have been reported, and power cables have melted.

Russia and the US have sent supertankers, large planes equipped with tanks carrying thousands of litres of water.

Fires continue to threaten

On 29 January fewer than half of 130 active fires were under control. This is a horror, a nightmare without end, said Carlos Valenzuela, mayor of Constitución, a city in the path of advancing fires. “Everything has burned.” The authorities are preparing to evacuate the population of 46,000, unless the winds change direction.

The states most affected are in the central southern part of the country, particularly the regions of OHiggins, Maule and Valparaíso, where Chile’s major port is located. More than 100 vineyards in Maule have already been destroyed by the fires.

Winemaker Sergio Amigo Quevedo has lost six hectares of 120-year-old vines.It is hard to believe that those vines, which you have taken care of with such love and sacrifice, are lost… because of a voracious fire caused by careless men. It is a tremendous pain to lose these ancient vines that we bought in 2008 to preserve them from turning into a forest.

Vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s most famous wine-producing areas, are also threatened by the encroaching flames, as is the region of Bío-Bío, south of Maule. More than 40 national parks and conservation areas have been temporarily closed to visitors.

This article was produced by Climate News Network

  • Published in World

Cuba invests millions to minimize the impact of drought

The Cuban government has invested over 200 million pesos in recent years in investment and maintenance aimed at minimizing the effects of drought in the country, said a representative of the National Hydraulic Institute in Havana.

Javier Toledo Tapanes, representative of the Hydraulic Institute in Havana, pointed out that the impact affects 120 thousand Havana residents who currently receive water through trucks.

He pointed out almost 2 thousand 700 liters per second less enters the city due to the reduction of the precious liquid in the basins.

Among some of the priorities underway is the recovery of losses registered in the large pipes that is why work is underway in Cosculluela, El Gato, and Cuenca Sur among others, said the directive.

Mercedes Lopez Acea, First Secretary of the Communist Party in Havana said that they are attempting to recover thousands of liters of water with the current work and investment.

The measures that have been taken is aimed at a better management of the use of water and attempt to avoid the most complicated situation in the province, she said.

She also referred to the sanitation work under development to achieve better hygiene in the city and the rain drainage aimed at avoiding flooding in the low lying areas.

Lopez Acea pointed out the importance of the Meteoro exercises to follow-up the sensitive issue for the population and which is top priority for the State.

  • Published in Cuba

Water Reservoirs in Eastern Cuba at Lowest Level in Ten Years

Despite recent rain, the dams in eastern Cuba register a record low water level in ten years, according to sources of the National Water Resources Institute (IRH).

After two years of scant rain, the province of Guantanamo stores only 119 million cubic meters of water, or 34.5 percent of its capacity, while in the rainy season the reservoirs reached only 70 percent of their average level, which affects the water supply sources.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez Dalmau, from the IRH, described the current situation as worse than last year's.

The largest dam in the territory, La Yaya, is in a critical situation with only 34 million cubic meters of 160 possible; but the most worrying is Pozo Azul, a dam that supplies water to Valle del Caujeri agricultural area, now with only 14,8 percent of its capacity, he said.

Only the Faustino Perez dam has a favorable situation with 19 million cubic meters, of 26 million cubic meters, results that have been possible after implementing an adequate water saving policy and investments to reduce losses.

Nearly 121,000 people are suffering the consequences of the drought in seven municipalities of the province, but the people usually don't have the real perception of the situation because measures have been taken to mitigate its impact, he said.

Gonzalez said that water-saving and restrictive measures are being implemented, including cutting supply to agriculture, which demands over 20 percent of the water consumed in the province.

  • Published in Cuba

Drought affects 70 pct of Cuban Territory

Draught affects 70 pct of Cuban territoryHAVANA, Cuba, Oct 12 (acn) 70 percent of the entire geographical area of Cuba showed deficit in rainfall during the past 12 months, and the provinces of Sancti Spiritus and Granma were the most affected regions.

16 percent of affectations ranged from extreme to severe, 25 percent were moderate and 29 percent were weak, reported the Institute of Meteorology in its latest bulletin.

It noted that the municipalities of greater scarcity were La Palma and Viñales (Pinar del Río), Amancio, Colombia and Jobabo (Las Tunas), Buey Arriba (Granma), Mella, Segundo Frente and Tercer Frente (Santiago de Cuba) and Baracoa ( Guantanamo).

It described as significant the shortfalls of rains , which shows the continuity of meteorological drought that currently affects throughout the country.

October is, on average, one of the rainiest months of the year in Cuba and the period that began last May ends with it, almost coinciding with the hurricane season that runs from June 1st to November 30th.

The influence of the Atlantic anticyclone decreases compared to July and August, which, combined with the frequent passage of tropical waves and low, as well as the first frontal systems, favors the increasing rainfall.

October is considered the most dangerous month of the hurricane season, mainly in its second ten days.

Even associated with direct or indirect influence of tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall events often occur, which largely determine the highest monthly totals.

However, during the last 10 years, few rainfalls have occurred in this month half the time.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba: Severe Drought, Lack of Rain Trigger Water Saving Alert

The severe drought affecting Cuban aquifers and reservoirs given the extreme lack of rainfalls has led authorities to call for water-saving measures and other distribution strategies to cushion the tense situation.

The National Water Institute reported that by late July all its 242 dams were at 35 percent of their total capacity some 3 billion cubic meters, a volume well below the historic records for this period of the year.

The most affected Cuban provinces are central Ciego de Avila and Sancti Spiritus; eastern Granma, Las Tunas, Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey, and western Pinar del Rio.

Meanwhile, rainfall accumulates for July only reached 89.6 millimeters, meaning 67 percent of historic records.

The National Water Institute is taking actions to cushion the impact of these phenomena, particularly in the hardest hit areas, reads the report.

On Monday, the National Civil Defense also alerted on the low levels of reservoirs and the aquifers, which require a saving efforts by all sectors in the country.

The Civil Defense authorities activated temporary working teams in all provinces and municipalities to evaluate and control a series of measures in tune with the country’s disaster reduction plans, including the distribution of water to state entities and private businesses, the rehabilitation of supply networks and a restructuring in the water-supply program according to the situation of every territory.

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