Home » They work to correct the critical situation of the aqueducts for Cutral Co and Plaza Huincul

They work to correct the critical situation of the aqueducts for Cutral Co and Plaza Huincul

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They work to correct the critical situation of the aqueducts for Cutral Co and Plaza Huincul

A delicate situation is going through the drinking water service for Cutral Co and Plaza Huincul. The lack of investment in preventive maintenance – which accumulates for years – puts at risk the liquid arriving normally and daily, without the two aqueducts breaking. While provincial and local authorities coordinate to advance solutions, The workers raised the alarm for what they consider a “critical” panorama.

The delivery of drinking water for the cities of Cutral Co and Plaza Huincul is neither a simple nor economical task. Supplying the residents of the oil region requires the commissioning of two aqueducts: one on the Neuquén River and the other on Lake Los Barreales. However, both are about 40 kilometers apart on average and that means overcoming the differences in the height of the terrain, from the water courses to the towns.

The two systems – aqueducts – are operated by the Provincial Water and Sanitation Entity (EPAS), which delivers the liquid to the two municipalities and they distribute it among the inhabitants.

But the continuous breaks in the pipes – in recent times Los Barreales recorded four – prevent a regular supply. During the summer, shortages find residents with empty tanks in their homes when these cracks occur.

The EPAS commissioned a study to determine the conditions of the two aqueducts. The one on the Neuquén River is the oldest – it dates back to 1983 – and was expanded in 1994, a fact that is remembered for the sort of bath that former governor Jorge Sobisch and former mayor Adolfo Grittini, among other officials, took under a pipe.

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At 41 and 30 years old respectively and without proper maintenance, the conditions are not good. “Aggressive maintenance must be carried out to ensure the functioning of the aqueducts,” the report revealed. Despite this, and with the elements available, the operation is satisfactory. The report indicated that the estimated annual operating cost for the two aqueducts exceeds 4,000 million pesos.

The emergency that the report revealed coincides with the assessment of the EPAS operators. “The situation is critical both in the Neuquén River and in Los Barreales. The one in Buena Esperanza has three collection pumps in the river, but we only have one in operation,” said employee Carlos Muñoz, who has been with the EPAS for 36 years and was a member of the board of directors for labor representation on two occasions.

He explained that a month ago the second bomb broke and the third team is in the process of assembling, but “we had to stop because there are no spare parts to continue assembling it,” he told Diario RÍO NEGRO. He considered that the deterioration is a consequence of the last ten years without minimum investment.

“We are not going to blame the current government, this has been going on for 10 years. What happens is that they were in stock before and not these days,” he said.

It is precisely the pumps that are going to begin repairing first. The president of the EPAS, Gustavo Hernández told this medium that they are working “in coordination with the municipalities” and that the province will address the repair of the pumps at the Buena Esperanza plant and the other equipment that is in the Neuquén River.

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“The deadlines (to complete the arrangements) are approximately three months. That’s why we are doing it now and we want to take advantage of the winter season. At the latest, by the end of August we will be able to have everything operational and guarantee that the service is in good condition, with water that is safe in quantity and quality for the communities,” said Hernández.

Another problem is in the electricity panels that allow the start-up of the equipment to pump the purified water from Buena Esperanza to Cutral Co, for distribution.

“We have dismantled electrical panels from one pump to put them in the other and maintain the service. They are from ’95, they are old, today technology has surpassed them. At some point they have to be renewed,” added the operator Muñoz.

Last week, the workers – who, between the two aqueducts, drilling and the purification lagoons, numbered 90 – raised this situation before the councilors of the two cities and the Cutralquense mayor, Ramón Rioseco.

“It’s stuffy. We are working with Claudio Larraza (mayor of Huincul) to buy the spare parts (for the pumps) and put them operational next week, but we are getting busy,” said the communal chief when asked by Diario RÍO NEGRO.

Regarding the Los Barreales aqueduct that contributes 30% of the total consumed in the two cities, Muñoz explained that “It has recurrent breaks and we attribute them to the poor quality of the pipe.”

In this context, the provincial body reported that they have a work plan, with the estimated cost, plus the schedule they will follow to “face the emergency and arrive in adequate conditions for next summer”, a period of greatest demand.

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The schedule includes the repair of the six pumps, the maintenance of the panels, the electrical wiring – with the intervention of EPEN.

Water for the methanol plant

The drinking water that comes from the Neuquén River is not only for the consumption of the inhabitants of the oil region. There is a fraction that goes through a direct pipeline to the methanol plant owned by the YPF company, in Plaza Huincul.

In this case, there are 1,200 cubic meters per hour, during the 24 hours that go into the production of methanol, according to the data provided by the worker Muñoz. In this case, he made the reservation that the company pays for this flow, however, at his discretion the water from Barreales could be used, which comes raw and is only filtered in Cutral Co – at station No. 3 known as La Copa – to be sent. to homes.

For neighbors, on the other hand, delivery to homes is interrupted at schedules. During the fall and summer when consumption decreases exponentially, in any case, it is interrupted to recover the levels of the tank.


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