News Feature | October 18, 2017

After Maria, Puerto Ricans Left Only With Dangerous Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

pr.reg

Many Puerto Ricans remain without tap water service in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“The hurricane was on September 20, but [as of October 11] only about 64 percent, or 800,000, of the subscribers get water, according to the director of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA), Elí Díaz. This information comes from operation and handling plants for distribution pumps, which in turn depend on electric generators and diesel,” Metro reported.

Lack of access to clean water after the hurricane “has led several rural communities on the island to drink, wash and bathe in rivers and springs,” Metro reported.

The circumstances are creating a public health threat. Officials in Canóvanas reported infections of leptospirosis, bacteria spread by animal urine, Metro reported.

The U.S. EPA warned Puerto Rico residents this week not to drink water from hazardous waste sites.

"There are reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste 'Superfund' sites in Puerto Rico," the agency said in a statement, per The Hill.  "EPA advises against tampering with sealed and locked wells or drinking from these wells, as it may be dangerous to people’s health."

There are 18 sites in Puerto Rico designated as national priorities under the Superfund program, according to the EPA.

The agency is working with municipalities to restore water service, but some communities need electrical generators before they can address their water issues, The Hill reported.

Water is not the only service that is down in Puerto Rico. The website Status.pr, updated by Puerto Rico officials, showed that over half of the island still lacked telecom services recently evening. Most supermarkets and gas stations were also closed.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Puerto Rico," Alexander Rabb © 2011. Public Domain Mark 1.0: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/