The San Juan Daily Star
Governor defends PRASA chief over rationing
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia defended the executive president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Executive President Doriel Pagán Crespo on Thursday against the criticism she has received for initiating water rationing as a result of the drought in some areas of the island.
“If there is an agency that is behaving exemplarily, it is the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, which has a whole program of capital works, including the dredging of the Carraízo reservoir, which as has just been reported, is a $70 million project that will start from scratch,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “And likewise, I myself am going to the ground breakings throughout Puerto Rico of different authority projects. The truth is that the personnel of the authority are going the extra mile.”
“This issue of the drought is difficult,” Pierluisi added. “Obviously, they immediately blame the authority, but that’s not fair, because also to the extent that they are talking about, for example, water being lost here and these are problems that come from long ago, which are going to improve as these capital works are carried out, but they are not resolved overnight.”
The governor made his remarks upon leaving the United Retailers Center’s Small and Midsize Enterprise (SME) Week event, where the impact on SMEs from the rise in utility costs and now the rationing of drinking water was discussed.
“Some of these deficiencies … are out of our control,” Pierluisi noted. “For example, the inflation that we are suffering from. This really is a global phenomenon. The United States [Federal] Reserve is taking action on the matter and I hope it will work, that measure that the Reserve is taking to lower inflation. It must be understood that the economy of Puerto Rico is inserted into the economy of the United States. In other words, a rise in the cost of living is being seen there, so it is seen here as well.”
“Regarding the water issue, this has to do with climate change; although I am not an expert in that area, I have to see it that way,” he added. “And the president of the [water] authority is taking the necessary measures. As has already been reported, I see with approval that there is going to be rationing that is really for a few hours of the day, not forcing someone to spend a whole day without water. It seems to me that we should avoid it as much as possible.”
Later on Thursday, Pagán Crespo reiterated her agency’s call for the proper use and preservation of water during the period of low rainfall in Puerto Rico.
“According to the Drought Monitor report today, Thursday, June 9, 89.13 percent of the island continues to be affected by drought conditions and another 60.88 percent of the island is in moderate drought,” the PRASA chief stated in a written communication. “We continue to observe daily water supplies and hydrographic basins to continue outlining work plans that help us manage this dry period effectively and minimizing the effect on our clients.”