Imagine waking up at 1 am every day to fill up barrels in your backyard with water since water only comes to your tap in the middle of the night. While much easier than hauling water from a well, this isn’t exactly what most people think of when they hear about piped water supply with a tap in every house. However, this situation is common in parts of many Latin American cities.
In the Latin American city where I spent my summer, some houses have rooftop tanks that fill up automatically when the water comes on, but, in most households, barrels, buckets, and cement tubs called pilas are used to store water until it comes again.
Intermittent water service happens when it is not possible to keep all of the drinking water pipes in a city full of water and pressurized continuously. This situation normally results from a combination of problems that develop over time.