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article imagePuerto Rico under water rationing due to worsening drought

By Karen Graham     Jun 30, 2020 in Politics
San Juan - Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vazquez, on Monday declared a state of emergency as a worsening drought creeps across the U.S. territory amid the coronavirus crisis. On Thursday, almost 140,000 homes and businesses will begin water rationing.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is limiting nearly 140,000 residents’ water service to every other day as one of several emergency measures, according to the Associated Press. Earlier this month, the utility tried shutting off the water for eight hours every day.
With the new measure, the utility company has not said how long it would last. People are being asked not to hoard water. “We’re asking people to please use moderation,” Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority told the Associated Press.
People are also being asked to wear face masks and continue to practice social distancing if they seek water from one of 23 water trucks set up across the island.
There is a bit of good news in the coming days. Rain is in the forecast later this week, but it might not be enough to pull the territory completely out of the drought, but it will certainly help, according to The Hill.
U.S. Drought Monitor
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 26 percent of the island - mostly in the south - is experiencing a severe drought and another 60 percent is under a moderate drought, Vázquez said that the drought, combined with the lasting impacts of the December and January earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic, has threatened the safety and wellbeing of Puerto Ricans.
Vasquez's announcement comes at a time when she is already facing criticism over not dredging reservoirs, which would eliminate sediment and avoid an excessive loss of water.
However, the problem with getting the dredging done dates back to when Hurricane Marie came through the island and destroyed nearly everything. The utility company has been in conversation with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over a $300 million dredging investment. She blamed the lengthy process on the number of studies and analysis needed and that require FEMA’s approval.
Puerto Rico last experienced a punishing drought five years ago that affected 2.5 million people and led to severe water rationing measures. During that time, some 400,000 utility customers received water only every third day.
More about Puerto rico, drought conditions, water rationing, state of emergency, coronavirus
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