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PUERTO RICO EXTENDS WATER RATIONING AS DROUGHT DEEPENS AFTER ARID JULY

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PUERTO RICO EXTENDS WATER RATIONING AS DROUGHT DEEPENS AFTER ARID JULY

Post by Harry on Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:44 pm

Puerto Rico extends water rationing as drought deepens after arid July

Number of people to receive water only every third day rises to 400,000
Nearly 13% of island under extreme drought and 39% under severe one

A man and a boy try to fish while standing on the dry shores of the almost empty La Plata reservoir in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.

San Juan received only 1.6in (4cm) of rain in July, the fourth-driest month on record. Photograph: Alvin Baez/Reuters

Associated Press in San Juan

Wednesday 5 August 2015 12.37 EDT

Last modified on Friday 7 August 2015 05.19 EDT

A deepening drought in Puerto Rico that has affected 2.5 million people forced the government to extend severe water rationing measures to more communities that are already struggling with an economic crisis.

Another 180,000 customers will now receive water only every third day, raising the total facing 48-hour cuts in service to 400,000, as the US territory’s main reservoirs continue to shrink, according to the island’s water and sewer company.

“We have to keep the water that’s available under control,” said Alberto Lázaro, the company’s executive director, on Wednesday.

Nearly 13% of Puerto Rico is under an extreme drought and another 39% under a severe one, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

July was the fourth-driest month on record in San Juan since 1898, with only 1.6in (4cm) of rain, said Carlos Anselmi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

So far this year, it has rained as much as 12in (31cm) less than usual in San Juan, and as much as 20in (51cm) less in some areas at the Carraizo reservoir, he said.

Forecasters blame the El Niño phenomenon, a warming of the tropical Pacific that affects global weather and has led to a quiet Atlantic hurricane season, which began in June and ends in November.

The lack of rain has forced some businesses in Puerto Rico to temporarily close, while others, such as motels, have reported a slight increase in customers.
Puerto Rico's 'unpayable' debt: is this the Greece of the western hemisphere?
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The drought comes as Puerto Rico is struggling through a nearly decade-long economic slump that has led authorities to raise sales taxes, even on bottled water.

Olga Rodríguez, a 62-year-old San Juan resident who lives with her elderly father, has received water only every third day for more than a month now. She worries it will only worsen.

“May God help us all, because we need it,” she said in a phone interview.

The rationing measures began when the governor declared a state of emergency in mid-May, and government officials have said customers might see cuts of more than 48 hours if dry conditions persist.

Other Caribbean islands also are struggling with a drought, including Jamaica, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

Harry
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