After 156 hours of maintenance work – 84 more than scheduled – Mexico City’s main water system was finally reactivated late yesterday but millions of residents remain without running water as they wait for it to arrive.
The National Water Commission (Conagua) announced the reopening of the Cutzamala system via a post to its Twitter account.
“At 6:45, the protocol to open the Cutzamala system began with the filling of the line through the opening of the clear water tank. In the next few minutes, it will reach the [required] level and the first pump will be turned on to give it the pressure it needs,” it said.
The first of four pumps was turned on at 7:40pm and the second 10 minutes later, sending 8,000 liters of water per second towards the Valley of Mexico. The two other pumps were eventually activated as well but behind schedule.
Conagua spokesman José Luis Alcudia explained today that the city’s water storage tanks are located 76 kilometers from the pumping station and therefore it will take time for the water to reach them.
Boroughs in the west of the city will begin receiving water today while others affected by the suspension, including central Cuauhtémoc, will have to wait until tomorrow.
Supply is expected to return to normal over the weekend, Alcudia said.
Reactivation of the water system was originally scheduled for 8:00am Saturday, 72 hours after maintenance work began, but was delayed because one massive piece of the system, known as “inverted K,” shifted during installation.
The piece has not yet been positioned correctly but Conagua decided to reactivate the system regardless.
Víctor Alcocer, a deputy technical director for the commission, said that “inverted K” will be put into place once the system’s second line is in operation so that water supply is not suspended again.
Suspension of water service has affected almost four million residents in the capital and surrounding municipalities in México state.
The chief of Sacmex, the Mexico City water utility, predicted this morning that the lack of running water will be felt more acutely today than any other day of the “mega-cut.”
“The water will arrive at 10:00am and we will begin to fill the tanks. The good news is that the water is already on its way, the bad news is that it arrived late . . . the water hasn’t arrived yet and that means that [today] will be the worst day because people who stored water have already run out,” Ramón Aguirre said.
He added that demand for deliveries from water tankers had increased in recent days and was expected to spike further today.
“. . . This is the longest [water] cut in history. The previous suspension was 90 hours and this one is 155 or more. The water hasn’t arrived but we have certainty that it is coming. You have to give it time . . .” Aguirre said.