How to clean up the dirty water Puerto Ricans are drinking

Oct 17, 2017

By Aylin Woodward

It is almost a month since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, yet nearly 80 per cent of the island is still without electrical power and more than 30 per cent of people there don’t have access to potable drinking water.

The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that some citizens are so desperate for drinkable water that they have resorted to obtaining it from wells on a contaminated site, despite signs warning of danger.

The Dorado Ground Water Contamination site, which lies west of capital city San Juan on Puerto Rico’s northern coast, contains wells that once provided water to nearly 67,000 people. The EPA added it to its Superfund list of hazardous sites last September, but had not started cleaning it up when Maria struck.

EPA information from two years ago shows that some wells in the western part of the site are contaminated, whereas some of those in the eastern part meet drinking water standards. On Sunday, the agency said it had taken samples from three western locations that people had used for drinking water and expected results “by the end of next week”. The EPA says it has also reinstalled fences to secure the contaminated wells so people can’t access them.

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2 comments on “How to clean up the dirty water Puerto Ricans are drinking

  • So while Trump is entrenched in encouraging obsolete coal-burning systems, and has surrounded himself with climate change deniers, the renewable energy industries move on to solve the world’s problems.

    At least the Puerto Rico water systems should have power to operate their plant and equipment restored quite soon!

    Entrepreneur Elon Musk has followed through on his plan to boost power resources in Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

    Mr Musk’s firm, Tesla, has set up solar panels and energy storage batteries at Hospital del Nino, a children’s hospital in San Juan.

    The batteries will provide energy from the panels when sunlight is scarce.

    Tesla said on Twitter this was the “first of many” such projects going live.

    Mr Musk has also donated $250,000 (£190,000) of his own money to support humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico, where many people are still without electricity.

    Earlier this month, Tesla’s co-founder offered – via Twitter – to help rebuild energy infrastructure.

    The US territory’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, responded: “Let’s talk.”

    Mr Rossello has since thanked Tesla for its work at the hospital – also on Twitter (in Spanish).

    Tesla is known for its electric cars, such as the Model S, but the company is expanding into the renewable energy sector.

    It is installing a 100 megawatt set of its Powerpack batteries in Australia – the largest lithium ion battery storage project in the world.

    And last week, it won a $160m contract with wind turbine maker Vestas to place batteries at a new wind farm, also in Australia.

    The wind farm will feature solar panels as well as wind turbines and has been designed to provide power for more than 35,000 homes.

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  • What polar opposites Trump and Musk. Obviously so in compassion but as business people and problem solvers.

    Trump is a zero sum gambler, a chancer and stealer of other’s wealth, in it for the vainglory. Musk a problem solver in it for the glory of solving problems and moving everyone forward.

    Taking Puerto Rico down this route is to take them towards greater fault tolerance, the perfect response to such catastrophes.

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