Amidst earthquakes and a pandemic, Puerto Rico now also facing a drought
Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to a drought leaving 140,000 people without access to running water, according to EcoWatch. A drought during these times is particularly bad because of hygiene precautions against COVID-19. The islands planned to begin rationing water on July 2.
Twenty-six percent of Puerto Rico is under severe drought and 60% is under a moderate drought, reports the US Drought Monitor. This roughly affects 50 of the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. The water rationing will affect 140,000 homes and businesses as Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority begins to shut off the water for certain blocks during the day. This even includes some areas in the capital, San Juan. Some residents will be without water for 24 hours every other day. Although, there will be water trucks in areas with the worst droughts. People who will require water from these trucks are asked to wear masks.
The drought came quickly, with earliest showing signs in May of abnormally dry spots. But now a dry spell has left parts of the islands with four to eight less inches of rain over the past month, according to The Weather Channel. Dry air, which is associated with Saharan dust, moving across the carribean has lowered the chances for rain and storms.
The lack of reservoir dredging, according to The Weather Channel, could be part of the islands’ water scarcity. The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority said to the AP that they are discussing a $300 million investment towards dredging. Many customers get their water from the Carraízo reservoir, but because of the water rationing they will have to turn elsewhere. The Carraízo reservoir is one of 11 government reservoirs on the islands.
In addition to Puerto Rico, many other carribean countries are facing drought repercussions. The US Virgin Islands reported short-term severe droughts in some areas, similar to Puerto Rico’s. The carribean is cracking down on water rationing, especially to prevent COVID-19.