Worsening drought in Puerto Rico prompts state of emergency, leaves 140 000 without running water


Puerto Rico's governor has declared a state of emergency on Monday, June 30, 2020, due to worsening drought– prompting the government to resort to water rationing that will leave 140 000 without access to running water. Drought conditions have rapidly expanded since May, with almost 60 percent of the country already under a dry spell as of June 23, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

21 out of 78 municipalities are suffering from moderate drought conditions, while 29 others are affected by a severe dry spell, governor Wanda Vasquez said.

On May 12, a few areas were abnormally dry but there were no spots classified in drought. The conditions expanded as rainfall deficits in parts of the country are running 102 to 203 mm (4 to 8 inches) below average over the last 30 days. 

Dry air linked to Saharan dust moving across the Caribbean has suppressed any chances of widespread rain, but there have been storms that are hit or miss.

About 140 000 homes and businesses will be affected by water rationing, which will cut off water for 24 hours every other day.

Some communities in the northeast region have already been experiencing water rationing since early June.

Local authorities have also taken other measures to provide water, such as using wells and changing the water source for more than 30 000 Carraizo clients to a different reservoir.

Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, told the Associated Press that the utility company is talking with FEMA regarding a 300 million dollar dredging investment.

However, the process will take long because research is necessary for FEMA to approve of the project.

The country will begin water rationing on Thursday, July 2.

Featured image credit: Unsplash

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