Cuenca’s public utility ETAPA says that rationing of city water may be required if dry conditions continue. “We are in the dry season and since city reservoirs depend on rainfall for recharge, it may be necessary in the coming days and weeks to restrict residential service,” says Josué Larriva, ETAPA’s drinking water and sanitation manager. “At this point, our reservoir levels are low but are at adequate levels to meet current needs.”
Larriva is urging domestic customers to restrict water use if possible. “We ask customers to delay such activities as washing vehicles and watering household lawns and gardens,” he said. “We also ask people to report leaks in pipes that waste water.” He said between nine and 11% of water is lost through leaks each year.
“We have been lucky in recent years that we have not needed to impose widespread rationing but this depends on rainfall amounts,” Larriva said. “All of the municipal water supply comes from mountain watersheds and when these watersheds dry out, our holding ponds and reservoirs go dry too.
Larriva added that it has been years since Ecuador’s sierra has suffered a severe drought. “Many of us remember the 2010 drought, when we had to reduce drinking water to four hours a day,” he said. “That was also when the entire country was under electric use restrictions and we had rolling blackouts. Almost all of the country’s power is generated by hydroelectric plants so if less water is flowing, generation is reduced.”
Candidates want to liberalize gun laws
According to a survey by the El Comercio newspaper, at least five mayoral and prefect candidates in the February 2023 election want to make it easier for citizens to carry firearms in Ecuador.
One of them, Andrés Guschmer, candidate for prefect of Guayas Province, says people should have the right to protect themselves and that gun laws should be liberalized to allow it. “Every day, we hear about and see pictures of criminals approaching motorists and pedestrians with guns and sometimes shooting them. We need to amend the law to allow people with legitimate concerns for their safety to carry firearms.”
Under current law, farmers have fewer restrictions for owning firearms than urban residents. “They need guns to protect their livestock against predators,” says Guschmer. “On the other hand, given the level of insecurity in Guayas Province, I think citizens who have a good reason to carry a firearm, should be allowed to do it. They face human predators on the streets of our city.”
Guschmer says anyone applying for a gun permit should be fully vetted. “They cannot have a criminal record and they must have basic training in the use of a firearms,” he says. “But the restrictions must be reduced and the application process should be streamlined to allow legal ownership of firearms. People cannot be left defenseless.”
Azuay wildfires burn 800 hectares
According to the Azuay Prefect’s office, more than 800 hectares have been consumed by wildfires through Wednesday of this week. “Fire services have responded to fires in Cuenca, Giron and Oña as well as near the Cajas National Park,” the Prefect’s office reported.
In Cuenca, the fire department extinguished three fires Tuesday and Wednesday in the Sinincay, Boquerón and Racar areas.
In its statement, the Prefect urged those living in rural districts to avoid controlled burning. “Many areas of the province have received little or no rain for weeks and humidity levels are very low. We urge farmers and residents in farming areas to maintain strict controls on the use of fire during this period.”
The statement said that most wildfires have occurred in forested and scrubland areas, but said about 100 hectares of cropland and grazing pastures have burned this week.