Worsening drought forces state of emergency in Puerto Rico

June 30, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday declared a state of emergency as a worsening drought creeps across the US territory amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Starting July 2, nearly 140,000 clients, including some in the capital of San Juan, will be without water for 24 hours every other day as part of strict rationing measures.

Puerto Rico’s utilities company urged people to not excessively stockpile water because it would worsen the situation, and officials asked that everyone use masks and maintain social distancing if they seek water from one of 23 water trucks set up across the island.

“We’re asking people to please use moderation,” said Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, adding that she could not say how long the rationing measures will last.

Fernanda Ramos, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service in San Juan, said ongoing dry conditions will be interrupted by thunderstorms forecast to affect the island on Wednesday and Thursday.

“However, we are not expecting enough rain... to solve the problem we’re seeing,” she said.

More than 26% of the island is experiencing a severe drought and another 60% is under a moderate drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.

Water rationing measures affecting more than 16,000 clients were imposed earlier this month in some communities in the island’s northeast region.

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