February 15, 2015
Finally, there are undeniable signs that the long-awaited upgrade of the Puerto Armuelles’ sewer system is underway.
New Pipes Will Take Sewage To Treatment Plant
As you drive around town, you will notice parallel cuts in the road surface.
These cuts represent the location of the new, high volume sewer line that will be installed beneath the roadway. It will send effluent that is clogging the old system, out to a new treatment plant about a mile south of town, between Rio Corotu and Rio Guanabano.
There are also half a dozen pumping stations in deep bunkers at various locations along the roadways. Large scale motors will pump sewage originating in town, out to the new treatment plant.
Original Chiquita Built System
The original sewer system was built by Chiquita Banana. Some sections of the old cast iron sewer/galvanized steel water system are 50 – 70 years old, or more. The Chiquita system was of excellent quality and it has held up years longer than its design lifespan.
However, complete lack of maintenance by the local municipality, coupled with damage by several earthquakes, have taken its toll on the system.
Right now there must be about a dozen places where raw residential sewage flows freely from “last resort” pvc tubes onto the beaches, instead of out to the treatment plant.
Water system being upgraded at same time
To an equal, but less stinky degree, broken water mains gush freely, or spray, where they have been wrapped in a “bandage” of cut bicycle tire tube.
18 months until complete
The work on the Puerto Armuelles water/sewer system should take the better part of 18 months to complete. The Puerto Armuelles Project is part of a national project to upgrade sanitary services. The system is being constructed by IDAAN (Instituto de Acueductos y Acantarillados).
A $100 million dollar loan from the CAF (Inter-American Development Bank) will help to fund projects in Chiriqui, Veraguas, Bocas del Toro, and Panama provinces. Total cost of the projects is estimated at $126 million.
Relief to the Nose
This project is good news will be a relief to many residents. Although local residents have been amazingly patient about these repairs, I’m sure they will be happy not to have the smell of sewage filling the air.
Things are moving on all levels in Puerto Armuelles these days.