Warnings from international climate experts were there, at least a year ago. The forecast was clear: climate change would bring fresh water shortages to the Caribbean in the next five to 10 years.
24 de abril 2019
Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are three of the countries that already face a growing drought and water shortage, largely due to historically poor management of supplies by its governments. None of the countries have plans to face this anticipated water crisis, according to a cross-border investigation led by the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico, and in which journalists from Diario Libre, in the Dominican Republic and Le Nouvelliste, in Haiti, participated.
In Puerto Rico, 18 months after Hurricane María, the effect of the storm on reservoir sedimentation has not yet been studied. The fragmentation of responsibilities, the lack of monitoring and the inaction of the government of Puerto Rico, coupled with a "request" from the federal government to keep low levels at the Guajataca dam — which serves more than 200,000 people —, caused a rationing that began two months ago for the northwestern part of the island.
In Haiti, the country with the most critical situation due to its levels of poverty and the almost total absence of infrastructure, the illegal exploitation of wells, the contamination of water, the lack of a regulatory legal framework and misgovernment are the main problems that affect the availability of the vital resource.
The largest source of water supply for both community consumption and industrial and agricultural use in the metropolitan area of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, comes from the aquifer that extends under the Cul-de-Sac plain. Unpermitted extraction is increasing there, while authorities do not keep records about the amount of water they extract daily.
In the Dominican Republic, the illegal extraction of sand and other materials for the construction industry has destroyed the natural channel of some rivers and has eroded and affected the water table.
This has caused waters to flood the neighborhoods located adjacent to the rivers and has prompted a lower retention capacity of the liquid in the channels. The lack of supervision, and occasional collusion by Dominican authorities, has resulted in the degradation of watersheds that supply drinking water to the capital and other highly-populated regions, some of which have been facing a drought for six months.
The investigations were possible in part with the support of Para la Naturaleza, Fundación Segarra Boerman e Hijos, and Open Society Foundations.
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