New water distribution in Boquete

Blog by Andres Lay and Joy Huppe

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Boquete is ready and waiting for the new water project to begin!

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

During the past Feria de las Flores y El Café (Flower & Coffee Fair) in Boquete, President Varela announced the start of an estimated 25 million dollar project for the design and construction of a new aqueduct, sanitary sewer network and wastewater treatment plant for Boquete. The announcement was followed up with a government-issued “request for tender” (a formal, structured invitation for suppliers to bid on the supply of products or services) to which 20 companies have responded. The project is planned to take two years to complete, with a contract to include an additional five years of maintenance for both the water supply and sewer system.

This is welcome news to the residents of Boquete! Not only will the new project improve quality of life for the local population, but it will  impact the local economy by generating new employment opportunities and economic prosperity.

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President Varela announced the upcoming project at Boquete’s 2015 Flower and Coffee Festive.

Although Varela’s initiative is new, water issues in Boquete are not. There is no water shortage here in Boquete (thanks to high annual rainfall), but the problem stems from improper distribution due to discordant water networks run by different local water boards. There is also a concern about water quality and possible contamination, especially with the growing population.

An excerpt from the water project’s “statement of objectives” reveals the following:

“It is of particular concern that currently there is not a crude water treatment system by which cannot be predicted or control the factors with the potential for contamination, which may cause health problems in the population. The distribution is made by gravity through tubing, in the majority PVC, with a regular chlorination. There are also lines of asbestos cement, a material that is now banned for domestic use. In some areas of Boquete there are irregularities in the supply, a situation that is mainly due to the fact that there is no systematized and structured distribution system, lack of control and maintenance on the network. In view of this it is necessary to evaluate the driving lines by the low efficiency and effectiveness that are distributed.”

The drinking water supply system of the district of Boquete is carried out through three rural aqueducts, which are: Los Ladrillos, Valle Escondido, and Alto Quiel. This system covers the districts of Los Naranjos, Alto Boquete and Bajo Boquete. It is this area that the water project is focusing on. The rest of the water supply systems in the Boquete territory are administered by JAARs (Juntas Administradoras de Acueductos Rurales) with six aqueducts in Jaramillo, two in Los Naranjos, two in Palmira and one in Caldera. (Boquete is the only district in Panama that has retained control of it’s own water systems. The rest of the country is tied into the IDAAN national water network.)

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During a tour, representatives from interested companies check out the area where the work will be developed in order to assess the requirements and project costs.

The project, known as the Modernization of Potable Water and Sewage District of Boquete, will roll-out in two phases: 1) study & design, and 2) construction.

During the first phase, studies will be performed to determine that supply meets demand, and that water meets acceptable consumption standards. There will be a review and proposal for improvements to the existing supply and distribution system. A plan will then be developed for the collection, treatment and storage of the water from the Valle Escondido aqueduct, with projected service life of at least 20 years. Also on tap (pun intended) is the design for the supply and distribution of potable water in Los Naranjos, Bajo Boquete, Alto Boquete and the communities of El Salto and Volcancito, again with a service life of 20 years.

The second phase is construction, which includes connecting and optimizing the current system of water supply to Boquete, as well as collecting, processing and storing of water from the Valle Escondido aqueduct. Additionally, there will be construction of sanitary sewer system, and construction of a treatment plant for waste water.

The supervision of this project will be undertaken by the National Council for Sustainable Development (CONADES), with a stipulation that work be completed in 730 days (two years) once the project is formally begun. The Boquete community (estimated at 25,000, of which 5,000 are foreigners) is ready for the official kick-off, and are looking forward to the start of this project for the benefit of everybody.

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Drink deep! All of the water from the Casa de Montaña’s faucets is filtered and safe to drink.

At Casa de Montaña, our water comes from the Los Naranjos water supply.  We have a larger water tank for storage of water.  We also use a UV filtration system to enure that all the water that comes out of all our faucets throughout Casa de Montana is as free of contaminants as possible, as we are committed to a worry-free stay for all of our guests.

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