Sunday, September 27, 2009

Running Out of Water

Early last week there was a report in the Okinawan newspaper that Zamami has enough water left behind its dam to support the village for 40 more days. Aka has 30 days. We are ten days into those estimates with little rain to replenish the losses. We've been on rationing for at least 4-5 months, which means the water is shut off every day from 8pm to 8am. But most people have tanks installed on their roofs that fill up with water when it's on, then allow usage when it's off. As far as I can tell, rationing only affects a few households, some public facilities, and leaks in the system.

Aka has two dams and one was rumored to be empty so I kayaked over yesterday to take a look. I was surprised to find construction workers with lots of heavy equipment (that they must have brought in off a barge onto the beach, then built a road from the beach to the dam). It was really smart what they were doing, dredging out the floor of the dam while it's empty.

[the rear end of the dam - mostly dry]

I don't know what the plan is when we get closer to death. I've heard trucks full of water will come out on our ferry to be emptied behind the dam. We'd need a lot of trucks every day to support 600 people and tourists. On Aka they experimented with a 36-hour water turnoff last Thursday/Friday. This is the typhoon season (with no typhoons yet), so I think the main strategy is just to hope for rain.

[Zamami's dam - not much left]

[the floodplain below Zamami's dam, the village is around the corner to the left]

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