I went to San Genaro last weekend to see how the neighbors are getting along with their new water resource. Freddy invited me and Sonia to eat lunch with his family, and told me that so far their monthly water bills have been much lower than we anticipated. Each family has had to pay a grand total of $1.60 for the first two months of usage. That´s about a tenth of what they used to pay! Unfortunately there are a few neighbors who don´t like the idea that someone else might receive more savings than themselves, and are insisting that people pay for the amount of time that they use the water rather than just splitting the bill evenly each month. But monitoring the amount of time each family uses would take a extraordinary amount of effort for the small improvement in ¨fairness¨.
Now that the neighbors have one success under their belt, they´re meeting every month to discuss other ways to improve their neighborhood. Lately, discussion has turned toward the construction of an illegal connection to the sewer system! I told Freddy that I thought it was a very bad idea and that it would leave them liable to severe penalties if it were discovered. But I was encouraged by the fact that the neighbors are realizing that they can accomplish more when they organize themselves. I guess empowerment has its good side and its bad side.