After the announcement of the water rationing plan that will affect several municipalities on the island starting tomorrow, citizens have taken to the streets to buy plastic storage tanks as a preventive measure against the interruption of essential service.
At the stroke of noon today and under a burning sun, residents of San Juan, Juncos, Río Grande and Humacao lined up on the edge of Highway # 1 in Caguas where a street vendor placed a bus with containers of between 5 and 55 gallons, whose prices fluctuated between $30 and $95. Customers looking for the convenience of a built-in faucet must pay an additional fee.
“You must wash it well before using it. Remember that!”, said the vendor who refused to speak with Primera Hora to a customer.
Among the people who lined up was Don Juan Rivera, a Junco’s resident who traveled through three towns before arriving at the place where he bought two 5-gallon cisterns at $30 each.
“I have searched in hardware stores and other places and found nothing. People have taken everything. I had the intention to buy the parts to make it, but there are none and that is why I am here. They are expensive but I urgently need to take them because we are older people and my wife and I need them,” said the man who visited Río Grande, Las Piedras and San Juan looking for the product.
A resident of San Juan had a similar experience, Jessica Torruella, who came to the area, after having visited stores such as Home Depot and Walmart. “Nothing, there is nothing left … a friend told me about this place and I started to see if I found something,” she explained.
For her part, Dinette Márquez, a resident of Cupey, also came by reference to the place. “I am forced to buy it because it is very difficult to face the day to day without water,” she maintained while observing what type of container she bought.
“I come from Humacao looking for these tanks … they are very expensive, but I will have to buy them because they are not I have another one. It is this or nothing because there are no more out there,” said another client who preferred to speak anonymously.
On Monday, the executive president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA), Doriel Pagán, released a plan for water rationing that will begin tomorrow for 140,000 customers who are supplied by the Sergio Cuevas filtration plant, which uses the reservoir in Lake Carraízo.
The plan provides that the service will be suspended from 9:00 on tomorrow in 24-hour periods, alternating between two areas that the agency identified as A and B. The affected municipalities are San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Canóvanas and Carolina.
The AAA had started a rationing plan a few weeks ago in plants of filtration in Canóvanas, San Lorenzo, Río Grande, and Loíza. In fact, it has warned that plants in Humacao and others located in Río Grande and Canóvanas are under surveillance, and if the flow of the rivers that supply them continues to decrease, other interruption plans would be announced.
The interruption of the water service arises in the midst of the health emergency that the country is facing due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, this week the Department of Health made recommendations to the citizens to make good use of drinking water. In the specific case of storage for residences, the agency suggested the following:
- Use glass, fiberglass, and plastic containers that are well cleaned and disinfected.
- Observe that they do not present residues or strong odors or penetrating.
- Do not use containers that have been used to store toxic products, acids, detergents, solvents, greases, and other chemical substances that may present a health risk.
- Keep the containers covered at all times, to prevent the external contamination by dust, leaves, mosquitoes, bird droppings, etc.
- The container with water should not be exposed to the sun to avoid the loss of chlorine and the possible growth of algae.
- As an alternative to boiling the water, you can add unscented home bleach, in the ratio of eight (8) drops per gallon. Shake the container of the water and let it rest between 30 minutes and 1 hour before using it.