A landslide near a landfill south of Quito has left 600,000 utility customers without drinking water. The landslide occurred late Tuesday night, overwhelming a retaining wall and dumping hundreds of meters of earth into the Rio Pita. The river provides about 25% of the drinking water to the Quito metropolitan area.
Utility crews have been working continuously since early Wednesday to clear the river channel and say almost all debris has been removed. Officials say they are working to repair broken viaducts and pipes and hope to have all service restored by late Friday.
According to Mayor Mauricio Rodas, 171 neighborhoods were without water on Thursday morning.
Early Thursday afternoon, President Lenin Moreno ordered all public offices closed in Quito, saying the measure was necessary to conserve water. Earlier, the education ministry had cancelled classes in 646 public schools until water service is restored. Quito municipal offices have been closed as well.
“We are asking residents in unaffected areas to conserve water for the people who have been cut off,” Rodas said. He added that 70 water tankers began delivering water to affected neighborhoods at 8 a.m. Thursday. He asked residents to tune in to local radio and television stations for information about the locations of tanker stops.