Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency for all of Puerto Rico, due to drought conditions, assigning priority to the regions that are most affected by the meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought.
Water rationing in the San Juan metro area will begin on Thursday, July 2. The affected areas have been divided into two zones, which each zone having water service every other day. An estimated 140,000 clients will be affected.
Executive Order 2020-049 orders the Department of Public Security to carry out the inter-agency coordination of executive actions and planning on the mitigation, response and recovery to comprehensively address the drought emergency, with the advice of various government agencies.
All agencies should use the Protocol for Drought Management in Puerto Rico 2018 as their guide.
Vázquez indicated that in its most recent report of June 25, 2020, the U.S. National Weather Service, through its Drought Monitor document, classified 29 municipalities throughout Puerto Rico in a state of moderate drought and 21 municipalities in a state of severe drought.
Moderate and severe drought, as defined by said Drought Monitor, could potentially damage crops, pastures, rivers, reservoirs and wells, and represents a decrease in water and intermittent water levels in the areas involved.
Similarly, the Drought Monitor placed 12 municipalities under the category of having an atypically dry climate. These classifications respond to low levels of registered rainfall and a decrease in island’s main water reservoirs.
During the past two weeks, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority has implemented a water rationing plan in the municipalities of Canóvanas, Loíza, Río Grande and San Lorenzo due to low rainfall.
“Likewise, it is necessary to implement a plan to interrupt water-use services for the municipalities that the Carrazío reservoir supplies. These are Canóvanas, Carolina, Gurabo, San Juan and Trujillo Alto,” said the first executive.
“The dramatic decreases in this reservoir, accompanied by the rainfall deficit, have caused a substantial drop in the water reserve that supplies these municipalities,” she added.
Monitoring in the municipalities of Ponce, Juana Díaz and Santa Isabel is in the Observation phase, while in Salinas, monitoring is in the Operational Adjustment phase and Aguirre is in the Critical phase. The weather forecast for Puerto Rico in the near future does not show the island could receive the necessary rainfall to improve the situation.