Morovis mayor takes complaint against PRASA to Congress
By The Star Staff
Morovis Mayor Carmen Maldonado González announced Monday that the municipal administration she leads is taking to the U.S. Congress the claim of its citizens to have the right to drinking water for which they pay every month to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), a public corporation that the mayor said has been highly negligent in assuming its responsibility and for which it is the subject of a lawsuit at the federal level.
“[On Monday, I sent] a letter to Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, as well as to Joe Manchin III, his counterpart on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, informing them of the situation and requesting their help,” Maldonado González said. “Last February we had already asked Governor Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to declare a state of emergency in Morovis in order to have access to government resources to address this situation, but to this day the request has been ignored.”
“We have 11 neighborhoods without drinking water service. This situation has been going on for years and that is why the lawsuit we filed against PRASA in the federal court on behalf of all moroveños is still ongoing,” the mayor said.
The letter is also copied to Puerto Rican congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.).
The letter details that the administration of the Municipality of Morovis requests the prompt intervention of the U.S. Congress in the face of a vital situation that affects citizens on a daily basis, endangering the lives of young children, the elderly and bedridden patients, among others.
It is also noted that the population has been suffering for years due to the scarcity of the vital drinking water service and that PRASA continues to fail to comply with its duties and responsibilities with respect to the Municipality of Morovis, as well as other municipalities in Puerto Rico. It is added that PRASA has failed to comply with its legal duty as established in Article 4 of Act No. 40 of May 1, 1945.
The request for a declaration of emergency made to the governor last February sought from the president of the United States all types of federal aid available under current federal legislation, called on the governor to accept such aid and send it to the Municipality of Morovis and on PRASA to address the crisis. It also requested the coordination, implementation and administration of a plan and program for emergency management, in coordination with PRASA and the municipal administration, to make the allocation of funds, resources and personnel, as allowed by the American Recovery Plan Act and the State and Local Recovery and Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds program, available for water, sewer and infrastructure; to improve access to potable water; to support water and stormwater infrastructure; and to expand access to water services in the municipality.
The letter further states that the Municipality of Morovis has approved several declarations of emergency to address the water service crisis. However, municipal resources are not sufficient, added to the fact that it is not the entity with the legal responsibility to supply water through the PRASA system.
“Among other issues, we have created programs to help our population. We also help the schools and their students,” the mayor said. “We are constantly delivering water, in tanker trucks, to practically the entire population of Morovis. Certainly, there are sectors of Morovis that are so far away that it is very difficult to transport water to them daily in tanker trucks.”
The letter further states that the current government administration has not taken any significant steps to improve the situation and that the residents of the municipality are victims whose rights are being violated.
Maldonado González also pointed out that the situation is unsustainable and that all socioeconomic sectors are affected by PRASA’s negligence.
“It is causing the suffering of approximately 32,000 residents, including more than 3,200 public school students, more than 200 bedridden patients and our elderly population,” she said. “Other municipalities near Morovis, such as Ciales, Vega Baja, Vega Alta, Manatí and Orocovis, also suffer from this situation. That is why in the letter we respectfully request the prompt intervention of the U.S. Senate and House natural resources committees to investigate this situation and help us. We also want the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to approve a declaration of emergency in Morovis and other municipalities, due to the lack of vital drinking water service and the crisis in the infrastructure of the PRASA system.”