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Puerto Rico's Water Supply Catastrophes

Feces, sewage, gasoline, and more. Punta Cana's water supply is severely damaged, but no one discusses this primary concern and the effects this issue has on American Citizens' livelihoods. In agreement with Erik Olson, a senior health policy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Puerto Rico has "the worst record in the U.S. for drinking water safety."


Why has there not been a change?


Punta Cana's water supply issue is not new; this island's water supply has been severely contaminated since the 1980s. Dorado, Puerto Rico, was the location where this problem started, dating back to the 1980s. According to "The Hidden Problems With Puerto Rico's Water Supply," industrial solvents and dry cleaning compounds were found in the local wells.


Puerto Rico has 18 sites listed on The Environmental Protection Agency, which identifies these sites as being a risk to the health of people and the environment because of the severe pollution found in these water masses; however, the EPA did not begin searching for the source of this pollution until the 2000s.


Shockingly, Puerto Rico's government did not fix this concern when it began but let it worsen. "The Hidden Problems With Puerto Rico's Water Supply" notes, this problem grew so bad, it caused wells to begin to shut down by the 1990s because the water began to be that troubling.


Now Puerto Rico has never been more critical, as their luck has continued to be challenged. "Puerto Rico's Next Big Crisis Is Water" notes the effects Hurricane Maria had on this island. As Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September of 2017, this water problem became even more contaminated. Hurricane Maria's devastation caused pollution to worsen as it destroyed the island's infrastructure.


Hurricane Marica produced the second-longest blackout in world history.


Island citizens were facing a shortage more than ever as they had no access to running water and confronted a shortage of bottled water. Adapting to their environment and circumstances, people began to drink from mountain springs and other natural sources tainted with bacteria and numerous other hazardous waste from superfund sites.


Roughly 75 individuals sustained a deadly result, died of leptospirosis, waterborne bacteria spread by rats, only in the first month after the storm.


Nevertheless, by December 2017, the Natural Resources Defense Council released leaked documents exposing more than 2.3 million Puerto Rican residents "were served by water systems which drew at least one sample testing positive for total coliforms or E. coli."


Puerto Rico's government has disregarded its citizens by not providing safe access to a vital source, water. Nearly 2.3 million residents were affected by this water pollution. Keep in mind that Puerto Rico's population is roughly 3.194 million individuals.


The majority of the island's water supply violates federal standards. "Puerto Rico drinking water is worst in U.S.: report" provided indulging statistics on this matter, acknowledging, nearly every person in Puerto Rico, or 99.5 percent of the population, has been served by water systems that had violations in 2015. This feature also highlights the violations Puerto Rico water is in; violations include unlawful high contamination levels such as volatile organic compounds, total coliform bacteria, disinfection byproducts, or broken water treatment rules.


These contaminants are worrisome; they can cause severe problems, including cancer, congenital disabilities, and cognitive impairments.


There are numerous stories of family members who have fallen severely ill, causing death because of the tragic and deadly diseases of Hurricane Maria. "Latino USA'' published a devastating article on the death of Jhon Alberto Hernández Núñez, who was said to be "among at least dozens of people who contracted leptospirosis, a disease caused by the leptospira bacteria," sadly leaving behind his wife and daughter. Puerto Rico water contamination is destroying families, taking the lives of loved ones. There must be a change, a solution to correct the Puerto Rico government's mistakes, such as denying and hiding the diseases in their water to citizens. Having these families find out once someone gets exceptionally ill.


After all of the problems Puerto Rico has been facing under their water issue, no one would think it could get any worse. Although, unfortunately, this problem worsens.


Puerto Rico had declared a state emergency as drought leaves thousands of people without water. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic does not help this current issue. "Puerto Rico declares state of emergency as drought leaves 140,000 without running water" highlights that in order for Puerto Rico to save water, utility companies are strictly rationing nearly 140,000 clients' water supply. This problem leaves these people without water for 24 hours every other day since July 3rd.


When will the residents of this island have access to safe water?


Puerto Rico has never got a break from this horrible issue. Since 1980, water has been the main issue facing this island's government and citizens, causing death and illnesses. The government must conclude to save this island from going underwater and to save their people from death.