Americas / United States / Puerto Rico

December 1, 2017

Safe drinking water is still needed for 300,000 Puerto Ricans

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, and in the months following, Puerto Rican families lacked access to fresh, clean water. The storm knocked out water treatment and pumping stations and as of mid-November, Puerto Rico’s water authority reports that about 300,000 people are still without access to clean water. Malteser International Americas and The Puerto Rico Delegation of the Order of Malta have been providing families with safe drinking water since early October.

Malteser International Americas Assessment Team is concerned about a health crisis for those still without access to safe water who have been turning to natural water sources such as ponds, lakes, and streams for their drinking water. This can be very dangerous because of possible contamination.

While no official case numbers are available, there are many reports in the media, and from meetings Malteser International Americas had with Puerto Rican healthcare providers and government officials, that there are increased conditions related to unclean water, ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to conjunctivitis, scabies, and asthma. In addition, by the end of October, Puerto Rico reported 121 cases of leptospirosis, since the hurricane, with four confirmed deaths as a result.

Another concern is the leaching of raw sewage or other contamination into drinking water sources. A reported 20 of the island’s 51 sewage treatment plants were out of service as of October 17, due mainly to lack of power. As a result, sewage has been identified as contaminating sources people are using for drinking water.

Help provide clean, safe drinking water to Puerto Rico’s families.