Despite being surrounded by water, Guantánamo Bay and its occupants dealt with a shortage of water from the lease signing in December of 1903 until 1964 when it became self-sufficient. Prior to 1939, the U.S. military purchased water rights on a yearly basis from the cities of Caimanera and Boqueron. Transported by barges to storage containers, fresh water was in short supply until the signing of a twenty year contract and the construction of a pipeline, which serviced the base with as much water as could be pumped through a ten-inch pipe from the Yateras River, fifteen miles away. A contract to enlarge the pipeline served the station with two-million more gallons of water a day, involving not only the widening of the pipe itself, but the construction of two water treatment plants on the base.

In early 1964, tumultuous relations came to a head when Castro cut off the water supply to the base completely in retaliation for U.S. fining Cuban fisherman near the coast of Florida, but likely for a great deal of past instances, as well. Partially out of necessity, but also because the U.S. knew the leverage Castro continued to hold in controlling the base’s water, a water conversion and electric power generation plant was installed on the base in February of 1964 rendering GTMO self-sufficient from Cuba and Castro’s rule.

- Alysa Broughton, Arizona State University