The way that the public water system works and your drinking is going to be uniquely different than where you are from. You might be interested to know how the water comes to your home and all the features of the water system in your building. Knowing how this system works will help you be able to maintain it and understand what is wrong with it when it is not working.
Note: This is your household water and not drinking water. For more on household drinking water in Playa read our article here.
How the water works in Mexico for your home
Lets start with a basic drawing you your home.
The water first comes through a small water pipe to your water meter. This is important to note because any leak in the system beyond this meter is going to be charged to you. These lines are not always placed with care and you can see them sticking up through sidewalks and practically laying on the surface in yards.
Next the water is usually stored in cistern (reservoir) that is in the ground. This is important because the public water supply might not have strong pressure and if your roof tank needs water, your pump is going to need water to access to pump up. In the cistern there is a float just like your toilet has. It shuts off the water from coming in automatically when the tank is full. You will also have an float that might be electronic that lets the pump know if there is water to pump up. If you did not have this than the pump might run even if there was no water in the cistern.
Your pump is important because it works hard to keep refilling the roof tank each time you use water in the house. This thankless job is done each time needed 24 hours a day. So get a good pump. They cost about 500 pesos and up. If you hear it making noises you might want to do some preventative maintenance and get a new one. After all they are a very important function of the house. It is important to note that you need electricity to pump your water to the roof. So if the power is out for a while your tank might empty and you have to wait until the power comes back on. This is different than most other countries when the pressure of water coming from the city water supply just creates the pressure for your house to make water come out of your faucets.
Once the water is pumped to the roof you have another float there that lets the pump know when it is full. The float here and in the cistern are important because if they are not working correctly then you could be overfilling your tank and water you pay for will be running off the building roof.
Your tank on the roof should be plastic and not the concrete one. There are a few old concrete ones in Playa but these are not as sanitary. It is important to keep the lid on the tank so light cannot start algae and dust and other things cannot get into your household water. Water tanks come in back and cream colors. The black tanks get the water hotter in the sun if that is something you would like. Just remember your cold water come from this tank.
Gravity feeds the water down into the house. The higher the tank the greater the pressure will be in the house.
Helpful Spanish words for your water system
Here are some words that will come in helpful when having a repair done or trying to get a part.
How to detect what is wrong with your water
I have no water!!!! This can be several things and looking at the diagram above will help you know why. Here are five of the main issues.
1. You did not pay your water bill on time and Capa shut off your water. You will know if no water is flowing into your cistern and it is low.
2. There sometimes is a lever next to the water meter and someone might have turned it off. If it is turned on, then water should be flowing into the cistern.
3. You cistern is full but your pump may not be working. Check the roof tank to see if it is empty. Just check the floats first before buying a new pump.
4. Your electric float is not working in the cistern.
5. Your float is not working in the tank on the roof. If your float is the electronic kind, sometimes shaking it will make it work again. If it works again, great, but you should plan on replacing it soon. Check your electric panel to see if the circuit to the pump and floats is turned off.
These are the top main reasons you have no water flow in your home. On rare occasions the city shuts off water for maintenance but usually will give advance notice of this. But usually this is only posted in the news paper in Spanish or on their website. Usually word gets spread around on Facebook.
CAPA (Now Aguakan Water Company)
CAPA was the water department, now it is called Aguakan. They issue bills every month. It is very important to pay on time because they are very efficient to come and turn off your water a few days after the due date. Of course you might not realize it for a few more days because you have water in your tank on your roof.
Where do you pay your water bill?
You can pay your bill at convenience stores (mainly OXXO) for 7 pesos or go to a kiosk. The most central on is in Plaza Las Perlas on Constituyentes Avenue between 20th and 25th Avenues. You need to enter the plaza and go to your right.
The hours at this payment center are Monday-Friday 10:00am-1:00pm and 3:00pm-7:00pm.
Try to have exact change or close to the amount because they seem to always run out of change.
Tip: On your bill you will have a date called “vencimiento”. You can pay at Oxxo up until this day but after you are late and need to pay at the Aguakan office. Sometimes the bills arrive late and you have no choice in the matter. When you do pay at the main office you can overpay and have a balance on your account. This can be very convenient for you.
Tip: Now that you know how your system works you will be able to prepare your water system for a hurricane. See tips about this and other preparation in our hurricane preparation article.