Morovis sues PRASA over water service woes
By The Star Staff
The municipality of Morovis has filed a class action suit against the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) and insurers in U.S. District Court citing inefficient service, Mayor Carmen Maldonado González announced on Thursday.
“Since I became mayor of Morovis in January 2017, I have been fighting, meeting, visiting, begging, both with the management of the public corporation and officials of the state government, for the water service for our town,” the mayor said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, PRASA has left us no alternative but to go to court.”
In the class action, which the mayor is urging all residents of Morovis to join, the municipality challenges PRASA’s charter law. The law prohibits the public corporation from being sued for damages under the Sánchez Valle doctrine, which points out that no local law can override federal laws. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Héctor Figueroa Vincenty and Andrés Gorbea, and also relies upon the legal advice of attorney Jesús M. Ortiz Rivera.
Maldonado González pointed out that in February of this year, she went directly to La Fortaleza and delivered a letter requesting that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia decree a state of emergency in Morovis to address the situation.
“Specifically, we asked Pierluisi to ask the president of the United States of America for all kinds of federal aid granted by current federal legislation, to accept such aid so that the PRASA crisis could be properly addressed,” she said. “In addition to that, I requested that a specific plan for emergency management be coordinated, implemented and administered, in coordination with PRASA and the municipal administration of Morovis.”
The petition to La Fortaleza included a request that PRASA comply with its duties, responsibilities and obligations, in accordance with its enabling letter. The mayor said she also sought an order for PRASA to purchase personal property, materials and hire the necessary personnel to address the emergency situation, to no avail.
“In the same way, [we asked for] an allocation of funds, resources and personnel be made, as allowed by the funds of the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program, to invest in water infrastructure and sewage infrastructure, making the necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, to support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to water services for all staff in Morovis,” Maldonado González said.
“All of Puerto Rico has seen how, over the years, we Morovians have been living under the ineptitude of PRASA, which has permanently caused so much suffering, anguish, and physical and mental damage to the population of Morovis,” the mayor argued. “Neither PRASA nor the governor has addressed this situation. To this day, our efforts have been unsuccessful. … The situation is unsustainable, every month PRASA does not fail to send invoices to the Morovian population, which deserves dignified, humanitarian and responsible treatment.”