The vast majority of Puerto Rican homes were plunged into darkness after Hurricane Fiona knocked out the power grid, but islanders face another devastating emergency: how to access clean water?
Without electricity, there is no electricity to run filtration systems and no electricity to pump water into homes. This means there is no clean water for drinking, bathing or flushing the toilet.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 837,000 Puerto Rico Water and Sewer Authority customers had no water service or were experiencing significant interruptions, according to the government’s emergency portal system.
AAA, as Puerto Rico’s water agency is called, is the only water company on the island and serves 1.2 million customers, meaning that only 34% of households currently have piped water. own. AAA President Doriel I. Pagán Crespo explained that in addition to power outages, water supplies have been severely affected by flooding and rising rivers in Puerto Rico.
“Most rivers are too high,” Pagán Crespo said during an interview with WKAQ 580 AM on Monday, El Nuevo Dia reported.
“We have 112 filtration plants, and most of them are fed by rivers. … As long as the river levels continue to drop and our staff can carry out clean-up tasks safely, that’s as well as we will. ,” she added.
When the monster Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, it took months to restore municipal water services, forcing people to rely entirely on bottled water or, for the most desperate, to bathe and drink from natural springs that had raw sewage. in them. The Associated Press reported that a month after the storm, 20 of the island’s 51 sewage treatment plants were still out of service. Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Agency officials have been unable to inspect some of the island’s highly toxic Superfund sites that have been decommissioned.
Even a year later, a Washington Post-A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 50% of Puerto Ricans said their household could not get enough clean water to drink.
For now, the communities whose water has been restored are under boil water advisory.