'We want water,' reads the sign of a protester who has not had any for four months. 'We want water,' reads the sign of a protester who has not had any for four months.

Water theft in Guerrero capital leaves utility short of operating funds

About 10,000 people are stealing water with illegal taps into water lines

Water is being “shamelessly” stolen in the capital city of Guerrero through 10,000 illegal taps into the city’s water system, according to a municipal official.

Political affairs undersecretary Julio César Aguirre said Chilpancingo authorities will seek to prosecute those who are stealing water and causing shortages that residents have been complaining about for the past several months.

“We’re talking about 10,000 people who are stealing water in a shameless way . . . We ask them to pay for it and if they do, there will be no legal proceedings against them,” he said.

For the past two weeks, residents of several neighborhoods in the municipality have been protesting to demand the restoration of reliable water service and the dismissal of water chief Irma Lilia Garzón Bernal.

However, Aguirre predicted that water shortages would only worsen because even though there is enough water in storage systems, it can’t be distributed effectively because of the poor state of water lines.

An alternative, he said, could be to deliver water in trucks but municipal authorities only have three at their disposal – one of their own and two that are on loan from the state government.

“The previous municipal administration only left us one water truck, the others are in terrible mechanical condition,” Aguirre said.

Chilpancingo Mayor Antonio Gaspar Beltrán said in a video posted to Facebook that the Chilpancingo Water and Sewer Commission (Capach) needs 8.5 million pesos (US $445,000) a month to pay for its operational costs.

He explained that almost 5 million pesos is needed to pay for electricity and the remainder is to maintain equipment and cover the salaries of Capach employees.

The utility’s precarious financial situation is a result of many Chilpancingo residents failing to pay their water bills, Beltrán said, urging people to cough up.

However, protesting residents counter that they won’t pay while water supply continues to be so poor.

Source: Reforma (sp), El Universal (sp) 

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