270,000 Puerto Ricans Suffer Through Summer Heat
Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla declared an emergency over the country’s water-shortage crisis.
On Wednesday, June 17, Puerto Rico began withhold water services, on a rotating basis, from many if its cities. Some cities will have water shut off for 24 hours, while others will go without for 48 hours.
This as residents endure Puerto Rico’s high summer temperatures.
Alberto Lázaro, president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA), announced the rationing plan during a press conference at the shrinking La Plata reservoir.
“The situation of severe drought continues in several municipalities, and there are no encouraging forecasts to alleviate the situation in the coming weeks or months,” Lázaro said. “La Plata reservoir levels continue to decline rapidly, and we need to establish control measures to extend the water supply.”
The Puerto Rico National Guard will be on hand to ensure that residents in affected cities have drinking water, Lázaro added.
The drastic measure comes after severe droughts on the island forced Governor Alejandro García Padilla to declare a state of emergency. Experts say the tiny nation’s extreme circumstances are due to El Niño, a disruption of weather conditions in the Tropical Pacific.
Puerto Rico Governor Padilla told a local radio station that the crisis could have been avoided if only there had been enough funds to build a new reservoir on the Valenciano river. Governor since January 2013, Padilla says previous administrations failed to build the necessary infrastructure.
Puerto Rico’s rainy season doesn’t begin until August. Residents could face up to 60 days of water shortage.
It won’t be something new for Puerto Ricans, though. According to Dávila, the rationing happens “every five to seven years; it is cyclical.”