Another Crisis: Puerto Rico’s Ongoing Water Dilemma

Keana Saberi, Reporter

Puerto Rico’s residents lay in the wake of the devastating storm, scattered , disheveled and low on hope. They are already facing another troubling problem, the chemical infused water supplies. Residents are struggling– their water is diluted with deadly chemicals such as PCE and TCE that are risks to their health.  Still, they grasp on to whatever water they can find, chemically poisoned or not. Citizens are rushing to the scarce water wells near a hazardous waste site trying to salvage as much much water as they can.  Many neighborhoods have extremely difficult conditions as the Hurricane wiped out  several water systems on the island.  The polluted water that lay in the abandoned wells can have harmful consequences such as a range of cancers and liver diseases. The karst limestone found  in  the water  samples there is know for spreading quickly and having deadly effects. 

The Environmental Protection Program or the EPA has been testing the local water supplies and measuring for levels of dangerous substances that are toxic to those drinking the water. The EPA has warned the communities that some wells must be off limits for public safety. Only one well has been approved for public use by the Puerto Rican officials while thousands of residents clamor around the one well,  trying to fill as many containers as they  possibly can. Everyone is scrambling, bottling as many jugs of water as they can for their families. Some even know the water is dangerous, but they still collect every last drop, and relish in the only water they have had access to in a while.  However some civilians  have began to have several, serious pains in their stomachs that are probably caused by the high chemical content in the water.  Residents are barely being helped, the need aid and support and since the beginning of the hurricane most neighborhoods have only received two small packs of water from emergency officials. 

The power is also out in many places, and the Puerto Rico’s population of 3.4 million is left without many means of communication. Walls are ripped off buildings and apartments are left, showing the insides, scattered and messy.  People rummage through the wreck, the shambles of their homes around them. Power lines are tattered, streets are drenched in mud, and trees are splintered and toppled upon the land. Since it is still unclear that the water in several wells in contaminated or not, the citizens are left with barely any clean drinking water. and so the minimum amounts of clean water is being rationed for. 

The citizens are in danger–their lives shattered and with utmost hope and persistence may they begin to rebuild their lives.