Cuenca not only has the best drinking water in Ecuador, it also has the cleanest rivers.
A report on water quality by government biologists and hydrologists, credits the the sewage pollution plant in Ucubamba with drastically improving river quality levels. Until the plant went on-line 14 years ago, much of the city’s sewage was piped directly into the Yanuncay, Tomebamba, Tarqui and Machángara Rivers.
The report says that the practice continues in much of Ecuador due to a lack of adequate sewage treatment facilities.
The 45-hectare Ucubamba facility, just off the Azoguez autopista, has six holding ponds that receive and treat city sewage before it is returned to the river basin. The ponds receive more than 85% of sewage of the Cuenca canton and the amount continues to rise.
Biologist Hari González, who coordinated the study for the Ecuador’s environmental ministry says that river water quality is monitored a 35 downstream stations and that the results show the water is the highest quality of any urban area of Ecuador. The water is clear and sediment rate is less than 100 milligrams of total dissolved solids per liter of water, he says.
A major challenge for the plant, according to González, is removing sludge collected in the ponds and a new program is collecting the sludge and transporting it to a specially designed facility at the municipal landfill in Pichacay.
Cuenca has rated highest in Ecuador for drinking water quality for 11 consecutive years, according to the environmental ministry. According to González, Cuenca water quality rates in the top 5% of all municipal water systems in the world.