The president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA), Doriel Pagán Crespo, made it clear that although subscribers pay for the water they consume, those who use it improperly in the midst of the rationing plan will be fined ranging from $ 250 to $ 4,500.
Penalties beginning July 16 are for residential, commercial, government, or industrial clients who do not comply with the provisions contained in Administrative Order 2020-02. The document regulates the use of drinking water for certain activities during the validity of the decreed state of emergency due to drought and that applies to a total of 50 municipalities under severe or moderate drought.
Yesterday, Governor Wanda Vázquez issued Executive Order 2020 -049, to declare a state of drought emergency for all of Puerto Rico, assigning as a priority, attention to the regions that are affected by meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought.
Vázquez said that the main reason why The Country facing a drought is the lack of rain and not the lack of dredging and maintenance of the AAA plants, as experts and the Authentic Independent Union (UIA), which represents the workers of the public corporation, have historically suggested.  “Certainly, we can have the best treatment alternatives, but we depend on it to rain. That is already out of our control. We have future plans and mitigation plans and there are the dredges. As you can see last week we started the one in Dorado, the La Plata river. At this moment we are going to continue with the efforts for these priority projects to occur, but without a doubt we are in a situation over which we do not have control, "said the First Executive. "So my call is for us to be prudent in the use of water so that, to the extent that the rationing plan is in place, if we do not take the measures, rationing will spread and we do not want that in the midst of a pandemic. ”
Transition period for fines
For his part, Pagán Crespo said that before issuing the fines, the AAA will guide citizens during the first 15 days of July. After this date, beginning July 16, individuals are exposed to a first-instance residential fine of $ 250, $ 1,000 in a second incident, and $ 2,500 in a third or subsequent incidents.
For clients commercial or government, the fine in the first incident will be $ 1,000, $ 2,000 in a second incident and $ 3,500 in the third and subsequent ones. On the other hand, for industrialists, the fines will be $ 2,500 (first incident), $ 3,500 (second incidence) and $ 4,500 (third or subsequent).
Amidst the strictest disinfection measures due to the coronavirus crisis (Covid-19) on the Island, the administrative order prohibits, among other things, hose or equipment washing pressurized waterproof surfaces such as squares, sidewalks, canopies and parking areas. It also prohibits washing cars, motorcycles, trucks, as well as watering plants, gardens, crops, cemeteries, golf courses with sprinklers, hose and any other irrigation system from 8:00 a.m. at 6:00 in the afternoon.
This order applies to the municipalities of Adjuntas, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Arroyo, Barranquitas, Bayamón, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cataño, Cayey, Cidra, Coamo, Comerío, Corozal, Culebras, Guánica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Humacao, Juana Díaz, Juncos and Lajas.
Also includes Las Piedras, Loíza, Maricao, Maunabo, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Peñuelas, Ponce , Río Grande, Sábana Grande, Salinas, San Germán, San Juan, San Lorenzo, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Vieques, Villalba, Yauco and Yabucoa.
Multiple advertisements  At a press conference held yesterday afternoon, Pagán Crespo not only reported on the signing of the administrative order, but also detailed the plan for scheduled interruptions, offered a brief account of the drought that has affected the island in the last three months and advanced future projects, including the dredging of the Carr reservoir aízo.
From the outset, he explained that the plan of scheduled interruptions for customers who receive service from the Sergio Cuevas filter plant begins this coming Thursday and will affect some 140,000 subscribers. The plan gives way to the suspension of service in 24-hour periods, starting at 9:00 am
He added that clients have divided into two zones, A and B, which will be alternating their 24-hour periods every 24 hours. suspension and restoration of service. The areas that will be affected in this first phase will be some parts of San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Canóvanas and Carolina. As of Thursday, zone A would not have service, but zone B and so on at 24-hour intervals.
The Carraízo reservoir has remained at the level of operational adjustments since June 16, and dawned yesterday with 37.26 meters of water, just 6 centimeters from entering the control level that begins at 37.20 meters.
Pagán Crespo commented that they are announcing rationing 72 hours in advance, to give customers the opportunity to prepare, but made a call to prudence so that quantities of water are not stored beyond what they are going to need because “then we are going to use a higher consumption and that is what we do not want.”
He said that the public corporation began to implement measures to mitigate the decrease in the water level in the Carraízo reservoir, including activating five wells that allowed adding 3 million gallons of water, reducing water pressure and transferring more than 30,000 customers to the filtration plant Sergio Cuevas to use the Superaqueduct, the La Plata reservoir or the Los Filtros filtration plant, in Guaynabo. , and to optimize the system, the AAA will work with the management and control of plant material in the Carraízo reservoir, with an investment of $ 800,000, and hopes to begin these works in September.
Work is also being carried out on the removal of sediments in the reservoirs. To do this, it depends on the request for $ 300 million to invest in various reservoirs and is already coordinating them with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, for its acronym in English).
“We hope that these administrative works of this award of funds have been completed before this year ends and then begin with everything that would be the logistics of the work. (There will be an) investment of $ 60 million in improvements to our reservoirs in the next five years, "added the official, who added that it will also work with water loss, flow measurement, visualization, pressure adjustment and renewal of pipes , among others.
Meanwhile, the president of the UIA Executive Committee, Luis de Jesús Rivera, said that the AAA has not attended the reservoirs with the promptness that had to attend to it. “The money has been allocated to them and they have never done anything to keep these reservoirs in optimal conditions. At this time it is not recommended that some type of dredging be carried out because what is going to decrease is the collection of water that is in those reservoirs, "he said.
Declaration of emergency
The Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD), José Burgos, indicated that they have been in talks with federal agencies "to try to get a permit, a presidential statement, to use more federal resources that are here in Puerto Rich". When asked by EL VOCERO, he said that "we are going to be communicating with FEMA personnel to verify how we make this request to the White House."
For his part, the Secretary of Natural Resources, Rafael Machargo, elaborated on the implications who has the emergency declaration. He stated that "one of the most affected agencies is the Department of Agriculture and through the order, aid can be activated for farmers who are affected by the drought."
* The journalist Maricarmen Rivera contributed to this story