Drought severity has decreased greatly in Puerto Rico over the last week. The reason, of course, is the significant amounts of rain that we experienced in the past several days. So, even the most negatively impacted areas of the island are now enjoying some relief from the drought.
The most noted improvement was seen in the nineteen municipalities marked under severe drought. They have now been reduced from nineteen to just eight: Santa Isabel, Salinas, Cayey, Guayama, Arroyo, Patillas, Maunabo and Yabucoa.
Even better is the news that the reservoirs providing water to even those municipalities are beginning to stabilize.
Luquillo gets water from the Fajardo reservoir – which is the newest reservoir in Puerto Rico. It provides water to the northeastern cities of Fajardo, Luquillo, and Ceiba. It is now just slightly below secure water levels at 48.21 meters. 48.3 meters and above is considered in normal range and 52.5 meters is optimal.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report, Luquillo remains under moderate drought conditions, along with Yauco, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, Juana Diaz, Naranjito, Toa Alta, Dorado, Toa Baja, Cataño, Loiza, Rio Grande, Fajardo, Culebra and much of Ceiba.
This means that water rationing is not necessary but frivolous water use penalties are still in affect.
The administrative order, which was effective starting in June, continues the prohibition on washing cars, watering gardens and filling swimming pools and still remains in force in Luquillo and Arroyo, Canovanas, Guayama, Loiza, Patillas, Rio Grande and Salinas.
Vice President of Operations of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA in Spanish), Francisco Martinez Castello said that “the four northeastern municipalities remain under the order because their plants receive water from the northern part of the watershed of El Yunque. This basin has been in rainfall deficit, so the municipalities have experienced technical rationing.”
The weather forecast over the next five days predicts more rain showers in the area, with Sunday and Monday getting as much as 80% chance of rain. If this proves to be true it is likely that Luquillo’s water source will finally reach normal level and all restrictions will be lifted.