Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Water crisis in Accra easing

At our compound, a new low point was reached over the weekend. No electricity, no water, no internet. Just sit in the dark and drink. (Well, all right, we ran the generator for awhile).

Late Friday night, without prior warning, our internet server decided we had used up all our bandwidth for the month. Naturally it was impossible to add credit until Monday.

We had been warned about water shortages. The local water companies have been advertising that there would be shortages, and they advised their customers to accumulate water. Unfortunately these warnings were only issued after the water had stopped flowing. They reported that their pumping equipment has been damaged by the recent extreme fluctuations in power supply. It is a believable story.

The water companies have been reduced to delivering water by truck. One rumour that has been circulating is that the price premium for a truck delivery is so compelling that the water companies have decided to deliver water by truck rather than by pipe. This argument seems unlikely, as it is impossible to fulfill all demand for water by truck. The margin for the company of such a delivery is greater than it would be for piped water, but by piping they serve far more customers.

Now it's possible that the costs of supplying water by conventional means had risen more rapidly (possibly including the theft and other losses that pipelines in Africa face) than the price they were permitted to charge, forcing them to seek higher-margin means of delivery.

The government has stepped in to prevent price gouging by placing restrictions on water supplies for truck delivery. Usually the trucks take water from the Weija reservoir--a common sight from the coastal highway. But the government has passed regulations forbidding water withdrawals from that spot. They presumably believe that restricting truck traffic will force the water companies to restore normal pipeline deliveries. But the water companies dug in their heels. Let there be no water, and we’ll see who cracks first.

The water situation, shall we say, reached the boiling point. The entire metropolitan area as far as Tema has been without water since early March. Over two million people were waiting for relief.

By Thursday, our overhead tank was empty and we were down near the bottom of the underground tanks. We used generator power to pump our last water into the overhead tank. We called for a truck delivery on Friday, and were told the truck would not arrive until Saturday. In the old days (say, last month), the call was answered immediately as the pickup spot on the Weija reservoir is less than 30 minutes from the compound. Now the trucks go far afield, in this case Winneba (about 90 minutes away), which adds to the price.

They used the traditional first trick in inflationary times--kept the price constant but shrank the load. Normally the water fills all our tanks with about 1000 litres to spare. On this delivery, the (supposedly) same volume of water was insufficient to fill our tanks.

Since writing this a few days ago, water service has been restored. Nobody seems to know why.

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