Guatemalan Water Wells Wet Wealth

Guatemalan Water Wells Wet Wealth

First, Blame the trabalenguas, tongue twister, title on emromesco, who said that water will be the oil of the 21st century.

Second, forgive the undramatic photograph; not much I can do with a working water well and its pumping warehouse. I compensate with all the wonderful researched information below.

Third, a few Spanish-English word equivalents are in order. I will list the words in Spanish and you gals and guys provide the English words, okay: agua, pozo, poza, manto acuifero, bomba, chorro, grifo, pila, lavadero, tanque, agua subterranea, lluvia, filtración, caudal, pluvial, cubeta, fuente, nacimiento, manantial, piscina, agua pura, agua purificada, agua corriente, río, lago, laguna.

Okay, to finish the first part of the water series, I have several questions and answers from two distinct locations in Guatemala: Jalapa and La Antigua. The Jalapa answers were provided by Ted from Wells of Hope. The answers from La Antigua Guatemala were provided by my dear friend J.M. “Chema” Magaña; a regular fuente, source for authoritative information regarding all things about La Antigua Guatemala.

Right after the questions and answers, I share with you an anecdote by long-time loyal reader of AntiguaDailyPhoto and member of the La Antigua Guatemala City Council in Spanish and my best effort at translating it into English. Enjoy!

How much does it cost to dig a well, an average of course?

  • Jalapa — There are fundamentally two parts to a successful well. The drilling of the well is one challenge and the mechanics of bringing the water to the surface is another. There are numerous variables when drilling a well which will have a direct effect on the cost of the drilling process. The diameter of the well, the depth of the well, the amount of casing, the size of casing, the geological formation all have a huge impact on the overall cost. Due to the geological diversity that make up the drilling conditions in the various parts of Guatemala, a well can cost, on average, between $50,000 to $150,000.
  • La Antigua Guatemala — If it is a mechanically drilled well as the above, the average price is $20,000. However, in La Antigua Guatemala manually digged rustic wells can be had for a few thousand quetzales, depending on the depth.

What are some of depths of wells around Guatemala?

  • Jalapa — We have drilled wells from 200 feet to 1,500 feet.
  • La Antigua Guatemala — The water tables in La Antigua Guatemala are near the surface, so for a manually digged well, water can be found between 3 and 8 meters ( 10 and 25 feet). In some places of San Pedro El Panorama, water was found at 50 centimeters (20 inches) of depth. For large amounts of water for a residential neighborhood, you may need to mechanically drilled until 100 meters (325 feet), but you are guaranteed a large recovery rate.

What kind of water tables and underground beds does Guatemala have?

  • Jalapa — Primarily drilling in the mountain region of Jalapa, the abundant aquifers have been found in gravel beds well below the hard volcanic rock that must first be penetrated.
  • La Antigua Guatemala — The water tables in La Antigua Guatemala are very near the surface; between 3 and 8 meters ( 10 and 25 feet). However for abundant aquifers, you must drill sometimes until 100 meters. The entire Panchoy Valley used to be a lake, so almost everywhere you drill you will find plentiful water.

What kind of treatments are necessary to make water potable?

  • Jalapa — The aquifers that we have encountered in the rural communities of the Jalapa region have not yet been disturbed by the contaminants of humanity. The water sources that we have found have been free of pollutants and therefore quite potable.
  • La Antigua Guatemala — Often, water found at the shallow depths can be contaminated so it needs to undergo purification before is potable. For underground water found much deeper, close to 100 meters (325 feet), you are almost guaranteed to draw pure water.

Is water from a well potable?

  • Jalapa — Generally speaking, yes.
  • La Antigua Guatemala — Much of it depends on the results of the water analysis by a professional laboratory. But, generally speaking chlorine and sometimes hydrochloric acid in the recommended doses by a professional laboratory, as well as filters for organic sediments and other such things. Often, water from deep wells is drawn quite potable already.

Here’s some additional information shared by Antonio Palomo, long-time loyal reader of AntiguaDailyPhoto and member of the La Antigua Guatemala City Council.

Te cuento que mientras viví en San Juan del Obispo, varias familias NO deseaban el agua municipal y no tenian agua corriente en sus casas, pues sólo hacian uso del agua de los chorros [ed. grifos] públicos. Intrigado por esto, pregunte a tres familias vecinas y la respuesta fue que el agua de los chorros públicos era mejor por que era nacida [ed. de manantial].

Let me tell you that when I lived in San Juan del Obispo, several families DID NOT want the municipal water and they did not had running water in their houses since they only used the public water faucets. Intrigued about this, I asked three neigboring families and their answers was that the water from the public faucets was better because it came from natural springs.

Investigando un poco mas, es decir, preguntando por allí, descubrí que los chorros públicos, por lo menos en San Juan [ed. del Obispo] y San Pedro [ed. Las Huertas], se alimentan de nacimientos naturales que son tan antiguos como los pueblos mismos.

Investigating a little further, in other words, just asking around, I discovered that indeed the public faucets are fed by natural springs as old as the towns themselves, at least in San Juan del Obispo and San Pedro Las Huertas.

El agua de San Juan proviene del cerro frente al pueblo hacia el oriente, yo visité el nacimiento y los hombres del pueblo tienen que hacer una faena anual para limpiar el nacimiento y otros arreglos. El agua de San Pedro, proviene de los nacimientos del Pilar, cerca de San Cristobal el Bajo, y es conducida hasta el pueblo, ahora en tuberia de pvc, en vez de los caños coloniales de barro. Y sí, el agua nacida sabe mejor, sólo basta probar el incansable chorro de la pila de San Pedro Las Huertas para comprobarlo.

The water from San Juan comes from a hill in front of the town to the east, I visited the spring myself and the men from the town are required annually to donate one day of work for cleaning and maintenance of the spring. The water of San Pedro comes from the springs of El Pilar, near San Cristobal el Bajo, and it is driven to San Pedro, now with PVC pipes, instead of the colonial ceramic tubes. And yes, the water from the springs tastes better, just try the tireless flow from the water tank in San Pedro Las Huertas to confirm it.

© 2009 – 2013, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Eric

    Rudy, this series is great. I am reading alot about Jalapa – well, thanks to La Prensa Libre, la desnutricion en Jalapa – lately, and Ted’s comments are definitely illuminating. I knew that La Antigua had plentiful water, but I never knew how plentiful (compared to other locations) until now. This series has been very informative, and given me a good ‘head-start’ in several directions, should I want to read more.
    Gracias a Sr Palomo, por su comentario excelente. Me encanta la anecdota.

  • This was all very intriguing information. I loved having the different voices as well. Thanks so much for all the hard work and research!!

  • kwallek

    Good ground water needs to be protected from sewage or you end up like much of Europe with foul water that tastes bad and can make you ill. I noticed that GC was still mixing its storm and sewage drains the last time I was down.