Puerto Rican Drought Emergency: 140,000 Can Access Water Only Every Other Day
July 9, 2020 (EIRNS)—Due to a severe drought, at least 140,000 people in Puerto Rico, many of them in the capital of San Juan, can now only access running water for 24 hours every other day, Associated Press reported June 29. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens are asking how they are supposed to wash their hands without running water? Sometimes, water in this U.S. territory isn’t even available for the promised 24 hours.
On the impoverished island, which has never recovered from two devastating, back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, and a series of earthquakes and tremors that have occurred over the last six months, there are 2,100 confirmed coronavirus cases, 6,500 “possible” infections, and 157 deaths, ABC News reports.
With 26% of the island under severe drought, and 60% under moderate drought, Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency June 29. According to AP, she’s been criticized for failing to dredge reservoirs, on which the population depends for water, to prevent water loss. Doriel Pagan, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, said she’s been trying since Hurricane Maria in 2017 to obtain a $300 million dredging investment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to no avail. Water rationing is targetting households connected to the Carrizo reservoir, one of eleven operated by the island government, which hasn’t been dredged since the late 1990s. Many other reservoirs also haven’t been dredged for years, causing sediment to collect and excess water to be lost. Only a vast infrastructure building program, part of LaRouchePAC’s 1.5 billion jobs program, provides a context for solving the problem.