Sunday, June 05, 2005

Jeddah residents face extreme water shortage :: Arab News
JEDDAH, 5 June 2005 — Residents in various parts of Jeddah have reported an extreme water shortage, forcing more and more residents to rely on the expensive black market in water to avoid waiting in line for hours for a truckload of water.

Abu Amar, a resident of Al-Rawdah district, said: “Every summer we face the same problem, we are sick of waiting seven hours for our turn for a water truck.”

According to residents that Arab News met with at the water distribution department on Macarona Street, it takes five to seven hours of waiting time to get hold of a water truck. If you don’t want to wait a whole working day your only choice would be the black market located in front of the department gates.
The public water distribution department is not keeping up with the quantity residents are demanding at the price the department is charging. In the article the private services are referred to as a black market. Presumably this is because these providers do not have a license to sell water, or are charging prices above some legal limit. The article offers no clarification as to why the black market sellers are able to operate at the doorstep of the public water distribution department.

It appears that the section of Jeddah that is affected is inhabited by foreign families which cannot afford to live in districts where water is distributed by pipeline. It is instead delivered periodically by truck. Between times the building reservoirs can run dry. It seems that each apartment unit has its own reservoir, but that's not clear from the article. Later the article mentions the households in a building join together to hire a truck to have water delivered, but this could simply be because the capacity of the trucks is enough to fill the reservoirs for several units.

If the building itself is served by a common reservoir that presents an interesting problem for the residents to solve. Can they agree on a way to ration their reserves? How about using the price mechanism?

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