Urgent water issues
The availability of healthy water continues to be a serious challenge for El Salvador, and the Deluge of 2011 has only made it worse. According to a story in La Prensa Grafica, the Ministry of Health reports that 10,186 wells were destroyed or contaminated by the flooding. In addition, some 28,862 latrines were damaged in the flooding. These damages to the water and sanitation infrastructure of the country create additional risks for disease.
Great amounts of money will be spent to repair the flooding damage to wells and water supplies. But the job will only be half done if the water legislation languishing in front of the National Assembly is not adopted.
Meanwhile, El Salvador's legislators have failed to take up a bill which would protect the country's water resources for the benefit of all its citizens. An article from IPS describes the inaction:
A bill for protection, recovery and use of water resources in El Salvador, drafted by a platform of about 100 social, religious and academic organisations, has been bogged down in parliament for the past five years in spite of the country's water crisis.
"Debate in Congress has been delayed due to lack of political will," Carlos Flores of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit (UNES), one of the civil society organisations belonging to the Water Forum, the umbrella group which presented the draft General Water Law to parliament, told IPS....
While political debate languishes, climate change is driving the country to the point at which demand for water exceeds the available supply, and quality declines, described as a situation of water stress.
A study titled "Situación de los recursos hídricos en Centroamérica: hacia una gestión integrada" (The Status of Water Resources in Central America: Towards Integrated Management), published in April by the Global Water Partnership (GWP), reports that El Salvador is the only Central American country faced with water scarcity.
It warns that water supply in El Salvador is hovering on the threshold of 1,700 cubic metres of water per person per year, the upper limit for the definition of water stress.
The quality of water in the country's rivers is also an issue. A study by the environment ministry last April determined that only two percent of the rivers contain water that can be made fit for human consumption, or used for irrigation or recreational activities.
"We are experiencing a severe water crisis, which will become more serious as a result of climate change, which is why a law is urgently needed," said Flores of UNES. (More).