The Zaza reservoir, the largest man-made reservoir in Cuba, located in the province of Sancti Spíritus. Photo: Vicente Brito

Directors of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) warned of the urgent need to rationalize water use, a resource which is increasingly expensive and scarce.

Speaking to the press, engineer Argelio Fernández Richelme, chief specialist at the Department for the Rational Use of Water, announced that from March, 2015, to date, there has been an intensification of the meteorological drought affecting practically the entire island, with increasing rainfall deficits.

He noted that at the end of February, just 29 millimeters of rain had fallen, representing 67% of normal precipitation for this month of the year.

He added that the western region of the island was less affected by the phenomenon, with a total of 83% of the normal average monthly rainfall, and that these precipitations were mainly associated with cold fronts and almost always fell along the northern coast. In the east of the island, he stressed, the situation is critical as February saw just 45% of expected rainfall.

Meanwhile, the country’s reservoirs in the previous month accumulated 6.934 billion cubic meters, 43% of the total storage capacity. “Eleven provinces remain below 50% of full capacity, and two of these, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila, with less than 25%. Of the total of 242 reservoirs in the country, 20 are completely dry, 74 are less than 25% full and 130 less than 50%,” Fernández Richelme explained.

As for groundwater, the specialist reported that in February, of the 100 most monitored basins, 85 had declining levels of water, only eight saw a rise and seven remained at a stable level.

A total of 141 municipalities across the country are experiencing hydrological drought, of which 30 are in a moderate situation, 50 are experiencing severe drought and 61 an extreme drought.