May 12, 2021

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The AAA reports that the flows of rivers and reservoirs reflect a decrease in their levels due to the drought

For the second consecutive year, Puerto Rico faces the ravages of a drought event that is already reflected in the decrease in flows in rivers and levels of water reservoirs, according to the executive director of the Water and sewage Authority (AAA), Doriel Pagán Crespo.

The statement comes after knowing the most recent report of the United States Drought Monitor (USDM, in English) which increased 13 percentage points in the percentage of the island under atypically dry conditions. Currently, approximately 30% of the island is under atypically dry conditions, while 3% is under moderate drought conditions.

Given that, Pagán Crespo informed this afternoon to The new day what The public corporation began to make internal operational adjustments to extend the stability of the levels of the reservoirs around the island, but the eastern zone, whose drinking water service is supplied by river flows, faces a different scenario.

“Indeed, today we saw an increase in drought levels according to the Monitor. We will be observing the eastern area. Particularly where we have seen a decrease in the flow of the river is at the Jagual plant in San Lorenzo, which we keep under observation. The rest of the maintenance systems continue to operate normally ”, the engineer said in a telephone interview.

He added that other plants, such as the Humacao filter dam and the filter intake at the Canóvanas plant, also reflect a decrease in the flow of their rivers. “We are seeing the typical of this season in April,” said the official.

For now Pagán Crespo could not pin down the probabilities, if any, that the San Lorenzo, Humacao and Canóvanas filter plants will enter into some stricter service control protocol such as a suspension. The reason, he explained, is because the behavior of river flows is short-term and right now it is not necessary to close the stopcocks.

“We let ourselves be carried away by the operation of the plant in terms of normal operation. At the moment, the only place where we have experienced perhaps some type of more substantial decrease is at the San Lorenzo plant. I would tell you that the rest of the plants are in normal operation, because an optimal level would be that we have a greater flow (of water). But what is characteristic of this time is that the levels decrease ”, he asserted.

According to the public corporation, the number of subscribers supplied by the Jagual filter plant in San Lorenzo is 2,031.

Asked about how she describes the current conditions of the reservoirs, Pagán Crespo affirmed that the level of the reservoirs around the island has been decreasing during this week, but only two are at the observation level.

“Today we called the National Meteorological Service and they told us that they expect a rainy event starting next Tuesday that they hope will be considerable and that it could be benefiting the entire island, but, again, these are forecasts. That is what we have on the scene right now ”, he highlighted.

Table showing the levels of the reservoirs on the island this Thursday, April 22, 2021.

At the same time, he said that every Tuesday the AAA holds an interagency meeting to examine new measures to be taken after analyzing the forecasts and levels of reservoirs with personnel from the National Weather Service (SNM) in San Juan, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) and Electric Power Authority (AEE).

“Measure is very important. We also have the water saving campaign online. We are doing everything in our control at this time. We are working interagency to have the most efficient protocols possible, but always We ask for the collaboration of our clients regarding the measured use of water”, The engineer requested.

The category of “atypically dry” conditions means that the area in question has a water deficit and that the dryness that affects it stops or slows the cultivation of food or grassland. Meanwhile, the moderate drought category means that some grasslands have been damaged, water sources or reservoirs are low, and moderate use of water is required.

According to the meteorologist Emanuel Rodríguez of the SNM, the reason why the atypically dry conditions on the island expanded in the most recent report is because the flow of the rivers is “far below normal and the soils they continue to dry out ”.

“The deficiencies of rainfall in the last ninety days across Puerto Rico fluctuates between two to six inches,” explained the expert.

This is reflected in a map of the meteorological agency that shows by colors the deficiencies in the amount of water received on the island for the past three months.

According to the map, the yellow and orange areas are the drought and are seen in a uniform way between the south, east interior and north of the island. Meanwhile, the areas that have received the most rainfall are the northeast, interior and southwest of the island.

Map showing rainfall deficiencies in Puerto Rico for the past three months.
Map showing rainfall deficiencies in Puerto Rico for the past three months. (NWS / NOAA)

Asked about the probability that the island will receive a significant rain event, Rodríguez indicated that, according to the forecast of the Caribbean Climate Forum (CariCOF, in English), the percentage of rain for April, May and June on the island is slightly above below normal.

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