Clogged irrigation channels and the increase in mangrove deforestation in recent years were factors that worsened the effects of the up to 25 inches of rain that Hurricane Fiona dropped on Salinas this Sunday and caused the evacuation of more than 426 people.
The procedure for community aqueducts to legalize their franchises and maintain their operation is so complicated, bureaucratic, and devoid of technical support that it discourages communities from formalizing the systems that carries water to their homes because of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s inability to provide the service.
Fourteen of the 42 monitors that the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, in Spanish) used to measure air pollutants harmful to health throughout Puerto Rico are out of service, some for as long as five years, a Center for Investigative Journalism investigation found.
On Alfonso XII Street in the Punta Santiago, a coastal neighborhood in Humacao, 62-year-old Bermuda Vázquez points toward the beach that is blanketed with brown seaweed, known as sargassum. Although it was a day off in midsummer to commemorate the emancipation of slavery in the United States, beachgoers were nowhere to be seen. “The thing is that one is afraid of getting ill in that water with the sargassum that stinks. I’ve lived in this community all my life, and I remember when, on days like today, many people came to the beach. But you have to adapt to this sargassum,” Vázquez told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish).