By Mayreth Casanova.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
At least 300 families are using water from Lake Maracaibo to clean up and wash their homes and clothes due to a severe water shortage affecting the Miramar neighborhood of Cabimas in the Zulia state. Since 2016, they do not have the service, neighbors reported to El Pitazo.
And not that water from the lake is any solution. Once, the state was a world-known producing oil and the birthplace of the oil industry in Venezuela. Now, lake Maracaibo is so polluted by oil activity, related industrial accidents, and leaks.
In Cabimas and other cities ringing the lake, oil spills end up tainting roads and even private houses, depending on the tide. Clean-up actions are almost null.
The inhabitants of Miramar, located on the lake shores in Cabimas, report intermittent water distribution for the last five years. They have to walk carrying water in containers to their homes.
Ana de Robertis, a resident of the zone, said that each water barrel costs $1, and a truck gets valued at up to $35. The military controls the fetched water business all over Venezuela, in rivers and other collection points, allowing only truckers and other clients that pay them a bribe to fill up.
The Mayor’s office has a contingency plan, but it has not arrived there.
Since 2015, intermittent water supply has been reported on the East Coast of the lake. The situation affects the quality of life of its inhabitants, who must carry water for their homes and store rainwater.
Polita Paredes, a neighbor of San Antonio Alley, said that some neighbors use water from the lake, while others use rainwater, and some buy the water pipes for their homes amid the COVID-19 quarantine.
“With the situation, we are experiencing with the coronavirus, we ask the authorities to have the basic services. Buying water is an expense that is not in the budget, and each neighbor must look for ways to solve the problem of having water,” she said.
They also denounced that they must cook on wood because of the failures with the gas. “At some houses, gas arrives from the domestic network, but in others, nothing arrives. We demand that maintenance be done to check the pipes,” said Rafael Vargas, a resident of the area.