The Ecuador Chronicles - 2010-26
Ecuador - Water and Electricity;
In Ecuador Electricity Depends on Water;
Do not Take Either for Granted
by Ray Almand
When I was very young my parents purchased a farm in what was then a rural area outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Our water came from an old dug well; we did not carry water - we had a pump that brought the water to the plumbing system of the house. And, of course, we had a septic tank. In the mid 1950's there was a terrible drought in the South. Our well went dry - we had to bring in water in buckets and other containers. Fortunately the creek at the back of the farm that the cattle used never went completely dry. Some of this I think I can barely remember, probably most of it from family stories. In the end my parents had a deep well drilled that provided a reliable supply of water for many years, if not much water pressure. When the county finally ran water down our road many of our neighbors debated about whether to keep using their wells or hook up to the county. My parents did not hesitate - they tied into the county system immediately; they wanted a reliable supply and good water pressure. We did keep the drilled well going for years after - just for use in the barns.
Our farm always had electricity, although in those early days it was not reliable. We had kerosene lamps and heaters for use when the power was out - a thunder storm or an ice storm could cause the power to be off for several days.
Some Parts of Ecuador are like the "Good Old Days" in the Rural South
These days in most parts of the developed world people take availability of water and electricity for granted, although it can still be an issue in rural areas. If you are considering buying real estate in Ecuador you need to understand about the water and electricity for any property you may be thinking about buying, even in a town or village - and of course in a rural area.
One Flush and No Shower
A couple of years ago we took a family vacation trip to Atacames, a resort type town on the Ecuador Pacific Coast in Esmeraldas Province. We arrived early in the week and rented a very nice condo in a complex of two towers, each about twelve stories high - a fairly upscale property. As the week went on our building, along with all of Atacames, began to fill up as people from the Sierra arrived for a long weekend at the beach. Friday morning we had no water. I went down to ask the manager what was going on - he said the water truck had not yet arrived. The entire complex depended on water brought in on tanker trucks; about an hour later we had water. The same thing happened Saturday morning - I went back down to check on the status of water arrival - and I asked the manager about water from the City. He said, "Let me show you". He opened a door on the lower level to what looked like an empty swimming pool. At one end was a pipe not much larger that a garden hose splashing water into the bottom of the pool - which was really the water holding tank for the building. He explained, "That is all we get from the City, and sometimes we run out on busy weekends before the tanker trucks arrive".
That really gave me something to think about - two large upscale buildings full of people with only one flush and no early morning shower if the water truck is not there before the water runs out. Many hotels and condominiums in the coastal areas and in this situation. Many residences around Ecuador (and other Latin American countries) have water storage tanks on the roof to store water so that it will be available all the time.
Nice Property, Nice View of Atacames, Pretty Girls, Great Family Vacation
But - Sometimes no Water in the Morning
Electricity - Depends on Rainfall
Most electricity in Ecuador is hydro-electricity - generated from several reservoirs around the country. Last year (2009) the rainy season started late and with a sputter. The reservoirs went down and electricity had to be rationed - there were rolling blackouts around the country, much like California a few years ago. These were actually scheduled so people could prepare for the four hour periods without power. No one I spoke to could remember any power outages this extensive. There was a lot of finger pointing between the government and the power companies - apparently there were supposed to be backup generators available to cover situations like this. Several were ordered form the US that could be quickly set up - but a little late for this crisis. It finally began raining about six or eight weeks late - and it took about another three weeks for things to get back to normal. With the generators now in place perhaps this will not happen again.
Electricity can be unreliable even with adequate rainfall in some areas. Many hotels and residences have backup generators.
Heavy Rain, Hail in Quito - Good for Water and Electricity
So - Should You Buy Real Estate?
None of this is meant to scare you away from buying real estate in Ecuador - a major part of our business is helping people find appropriate properties for a second home for vacation / rental - or a home for retirement. But you do need consider carefully water and electricity in relation to a property that is of interest to you - things you may take for granted in your home country. In some cases you may want to consider a backup generator in your planning, and perhaps a water storage tank. In a rural area you may need to be sure of access to a reliable spring or well. All of this is very manageable.
Would you like to visit Ecuador and perform a water and electricity audit?
Find out how atLive Well Ecuador: