Bogotá running out of drinking water

By Emma Newbery May 15, 2021

Chemicals needed to purify the city’s water are not making it through the blockades, and the capital faces the possibility of running out of drinking water.

In Bogotá we might not be able to drink water from the tap soon. Photo: Imani on Unsplash

Authorities have warned Bogotá is days away from running out of drinking water. A press release from the city’s water company, Acueducto de Bogotá, warned that the chemicals they need aren’t making it through the blockades.

The company needs lime and aluminium sulfate to arrive from Barranquilla to process the capital’s drinking water.

Three water filtration plants serve Bogotá and neighboring municipalities of Gachancipá, Tocancipá, Sopó, La Calera, Cajicá, Chía, Funza, Madrid, Mosquera, Soacha and Cota. 

Of those plants affected by the shortages, Francisco Wiesner supplies 70% of the water, and Tibitoc and Dorado supply 25% and 5% respectively. 

Demonstrations continue

The challenge is that we’re now in the third week of protests and every new story of state forces misusing power breathes new life into the demonstrations. The latest press release from NGO Temblores says that 39 people have been killed by public forces.

In Popayán, a seventeen-year-old girl died by suicide this week after accusing police officers who detained her during protests of sexually assaulting her. These stories have generated a cry of SOS Colombia both inside the country and around the world. 

Government talks with the National Strike Committee will begin tomorrow. Given the way the protests have evolved — with different groups demonstrating against a range of issues —  it’s not clear to what degree the committee will be able to speak for all the protestors.

Unfortunately, the blockades are having an outsized impact on the poorer groups in society. Trucks containing some basic foodstuffs are not getting through, which is pushing up prices and causing shortages.

Many figures have called for an end to the blockades, including President Duque and Bogotá mayor Claudia López. Both point out that the blockades stop ordinary Colombians from getting to work and putting food on the table.

But as people rally around a cry of SOS Colombia, the stories of misuse of state force are making the situation worse.