Water quality problems add to Puerto Rico misery

Thursday, October 12, 2017

As authorities attempt to resume water services in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria last month, the quality of Puerto Rico's potable water is becoming a growing source of concern.

The concern is due to the fact that with the passing of Maria, 27 out the island's 115 potable water treatment plants went out of service, according to a report by local daily El Nuevo Día.

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The natural disaster also affected some labs operated by local water authority PRASA, where water quality is tested, reportedly forcing the agency to hire private companies to carry out this task.

PRASA president Elí Díaz told the paper that the water being supplied to homes "complies with all the federal and state requirements laid out by Safe Drinking Water Act."

The official also said that all the potable water supplied by PRASA is going through a 24-hour treatment process. Díaz added that over 60% of the utility's users have already seen their water services being resumed.

More water funding

US federal emergency management agency FEMA announced in a statement Wednesday that it had awarded PRASA US$70mn for emergency work.

Although the agency did not specify how the funds will be invested, it noted the urgent need to use generators for the water and sewerage systems given that most of the island is still without power.

Wastewater problems

As many as 22 wastewater treatment plants have been inoperative since Maria hit due to the lack of power, which is leading to some sewage water spills, according to press reports.

The spills are also raising concerns about the potential contamination of water bodies, which could lead to a public health crisis.