With surface water contaminated through El Salvador, getting access to clean sources of water can be an expensive proposition. This story from National Public Radio describes the situation:
El Salvador isn't a place where you'd expect to find water problems. After all, it gets nearly six feet of rainfall each year. But Ricardo Navarro says clean water is in short supply. Contaminated water kills thousands of Salvadorans every year. Most are children.
"When we talk about the water problem in El Salvador, we are talking about that: the lack of clean water to drink," says Navarro, president of an environmental group called the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology.
He says the country has failed to protect a precious resource. Farmers have cut down forests that used to store rain water. Ranchers have allowed their livestock to pollute rivers. Communities have put latrines too close to shallow wells.
"Big enterprises… use the river as a place where they can throw everything. So whatever chemical goes in, it goes out," Navarro says.
One solution is deep wells. They draw from aquifers so far underground they are protected from surface pollution. Groups like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and CARE International have funded a lot of these wells as part of efforts to build modern water systems. But large, ambitious projects often prove hard to sustain. (more)