Oversight board asks PRASA for P3 by the end of 2020

By The Star Staff

The Financial Oversight and Management Board expects the Puerto Rico Aqueducts & Sewers Authority (PRASA) to enter into a public-private partnership (P3) before the end of the year for a smart meter system to reduce the public corporation’s loss of water due to leakage and theft.

The executive director of the oversight board, Natalie Jaresko, said Monday that up to 60 percent of the island’s potable water supply is lost.

“Water is life and people depend on water,” Jaresko said. “Therefore, we need a stable water utility.”

Puerto Rico’s water is safe to drink, but water quality reports indicate troubling trends for health-based violations, such as nitrates and chlorine-based disinfection byproducts, she said.

The public utility issued an invitation for bids on the project in April 2019 and three companies responded. At the time, no details were revealed about the companies. The proposed metering system would involve the use of advanced metering infrastructure and automatic meter reading devices.

Jaresko’s remarks came as Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced issued an executive order imposing rationing because of a severe water drought.

Regarding dredging plans to increase the capacity of the water reservoirs and avoid water rationing, the fiscal plan says PRASA has included in its resiliency projects around $1 billion for reservoir dredging, which must be subject to federal funds availability.

The oversight board official’s remarks were made during a roundtable to announce that the board has certified the 2020 fiscal plans for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, and PRASA.

“The three Fiscal Plans are roadmaps to a better quality of life in Puerto Rico and more safety and continuity during hurricanes, during earthquakes, during droughts, and every day,” Jaresko said. “Electricity, roads, and water are essential for every resident, and neglect of those essential

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