Puerto Rico’s Water Pollution

Topics: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a thriving country, but has been struck unfortunately by hurricanes and polluted water. Contaminations in the country’s water systems had risen over the last three decades. When Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Ricans struggled to find a source of clean water because of the damaged buildings, sewage, gasoline, and other wastewater substances. (Pearlman, 2016) The danger does not stop as the water infrastructure had been contaminated and pierced with multiple holes. Slowly, the island is getting back up on its feets as the electricity is back up.

Despite this, Puerto Rico had originally needed $2 billion to fix up the water infrastructure, but after the hurricane the billions had only doubled. If not fixed soon, people, animals, and living things will continue to be affected by the contaminations. Water treatment is an important process that improves reliable access to a safe, purified form of water supply for many uses such as drinking, irrigation systems, river maintenance, and other environmental utilization.

When water is polluted by harmful substances like soap, wasted material, oil, food scraps, and different kinds of chemical, it’s affects leads to environmental damage or illnesses to living beings such as humans and animals. The types of contaminant water changes depending on the sewage. Biological contamination is the biological components of harmful organisms in water that can include parasites, mold, bacteria, and viruses. Chemical contamination occurs when natural occurring or man-made chemicals are exposed to water. Physical contaminants makes a physical impact to the properties of water, this may include soil erosion or change in land structure.

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Radiological contaminants are filled with a significant number of unstable protons and neutrons that the chemical elements when put into water causes disease and airborne illnesses. The side effects are often than not harmful to a person’s health, raising concerns of exposure to contaminated water. If a person consumes the hazardous water, the physicality may not be shown, but severe illness and induce coma. Early symptoms presented include cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, continuous consumption would instigate fainting, bloody fluids, and eventual death.

The main leading cause of water pollution is poisonous chemicals in the environment from industrial buildings that dump out products and trash. Insecticides sprayed chemicals on crops to try to kill insects, but instead the levels of the chemicals are too high that they cause human poisoning. The chemical is easily washed into streams and groundwater by rainfall where it would poison domestic animals and the fish habitat. The chemicals are stored in the bodies for a long period of time in different types of food or animals. This cautious us to wash the products very thorough well before eating. Heavy metals such as zinc, nickel, cadmium, lead, and molybdenum are mined and processed then washed into streams and groundwater. This causes the polluted river to become dangerously irrigated and dangerous. Other products such as chlorine and detergents are the worst water polluters and contain strong chemicals capable of releasing toxins, acids, and dyes to kill animals almost instantly. Natural chemicals such as phosphates and nitrates that are found in fertilizers, sewage, and soap are essential elements of all living things. (Waterwise, N/A)

The main island of Puerto Rico is supplied with water from river, lake, and fresh wetlands that is provided for about four million people everyday through manufacturing water treatment. However, it is not entirely successful. Some houses don’t meet their general needs of clean water because of contamination and resources becoming scarce. Since the 1980s, there has been a problem with the water supply chemicals and dry cleaning components were found in local wells. After three decades, health officials had continued to find contaminations in the water and by the 2000s, the Environmental Protection Agency was sent to search for the pollution. They couldn’t find it and the contamination worsened for different cities water systems. In October of 2017, Puerto Rico was struck with one of it’s worst tropical storms, Hurricane Maria. The nation suffered a great loss of their water supply and electricity. The surrounding buildings were devastated and what was left of clean water was now filled by sewage, gasoline, or other wasteful products. Puerto Ricans struggle to find clean water and continued to withstand increasing floods from future storms.

Finally in the midst of Spring, the power had been restored and water was coming out of the faucet within people’s homes every two to three days. (Byrd, 2018) The celebration is short lived as the water is mixed with sediment signifying that it is no incompetently purified. Residents are forced to boil water for three minutes to allow it to be safe to drink. Outside of the cities, people have a tougher chance of getting connected with their water and electricity because of the services acting slower. Generators are constantly failing and electrical outages are common throughout the day, disrupting water treatment plants. People become affected with rashes and bumps across their skin as well as high fevers . The only drink that is safe to consume is the bottled water given by government-run portable stations. Supplies are sacred and most people who lack running water in their homes resort to collect from mountain springs and stream. Miscommunications of the stockpile line as well as distribution issues are common amongst federal officials like the twenty thousand pallets of bottled water left untouched and forced to sit in the hot sun throughout the summer before anyone realized the missing supplies. (Wier, 2018) However, the water was no longer good as many complained of its’ foul smell and taste. Over thousands of bottled water wasted and forced to be dumped.

It took about six months before more than ninety-six percent of Puerto Ricans had their water services restored. (Rodriguez, 2018) However, what is believed to be told isn’t entirely accurate as sewage treatment plants were still unable to function after the hurricane. How could our entire community resolve the issue of cleaning up the water or at least preventing any more contaminations? The resources provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency had well-stocked citizens with standard water bottles that could be refilled and saved, however, there is more we can do to make sure contaminations of different watering holes are prevented. If we minimize spills from our products such as small leaks and disposing them properly. Capture and filtering sediment in waterways helps prevent the ocean from washing away expose soil that holds a negative impact on the marine environment. Turbidity barrier are one of the most common solution for controlling waters filled with sediment. Always distillate water (or at least be aware if it is distilled) before consuming or washing in it. It helps separate liquid and harmful substances from intertwining into a person’s body. Puerto Rico’s reverse osmosis method during the year has helped manufacture clean, purified water from basic water resources. Despite the limits, Puerto Rico continues to advance forward after the storm and work harder to improve our use in conserving water.

Puerto Rico has so much value has as a country. It’s potentiality in growing into a prosper nation similar to the large, compact nation like the U.S. or island coasted place like Japan. We are rebuilding our nation to become better, more industrialized and secured. We approach 2019 as a country with major improvements after Hurricane Maria. Our water contamination is dissolving faster and though our water systems are faulty, federal officials are working on repairing the issue. Economically, the hurricane had hit us hard and drove on down in debt, reaching as high as $159 billion. (Ortiz, 2018) It had killed nearly three thousand people and left us without power for over four months. The expenses had risen and the island’s gross domestic product was reduced by eight percent. Several small businesses didn’t open after Maria, this resulted in a significant amount of residents to lose their job. However, what the hurricane had provided us is a second chance to transform our economics, health services, modernizing the structures, and transforming the government. Puerto Rico’s chances of recovery are rapidly growing. Despite the difficult challenges faced, our purified water is becoming dominant across the island and eventually, every Puerto Rican will no longer have to worry about contamination in the water treatments.

Works Cited

  1. Byrd, Ayana. “Puerto Rico’s Water System Is Almost Fully Operational.” Colorlines, 23 Aug. 2018, www.colorlines.com/articles/puerto-ricos-water-system-almost-fully-operational.
  2. Funes, Yessenia. “The EPA Is Still Warning Puerto Ricans About Sewage-Laced Water Nearly Four Months After Maria.” Earther, Earther, 8 Jan. 2018, earther.gizmodo.com/the-epa-is-still-warning-puerto-ricans-about-sewage-lac-1821875827.
  3. MWRA – How the Sewer System Works, 22 Feb. 2012, www.mwra.state.ma.us/03sewer/html/sewhow.htm.
  4. Ortiz, Jorge L. “Hurricane Maria’s Economic Impact on Puerto Rico: At Least $43 Billion, Possibly as High as $159 Billion.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 5 Dec. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/12/04/hurricane-maria-economic-impact-puerto-rico/2209231002/.
  5. Perlman, Howard, and USGS. “Wastewater Treatment Water Use.” Adhesion and Cohesion Water Properties, USGS Water Science School, 2 Dec. 2016, water.usgs.gov/edu/wuww.html.
  6. “Reverse Osmosis & Water Treatment in Puerto Rico.” Pure Aqua, Inc., www.pureaqua.com/reverse-osmosis-water-treatment-in-puerto-rico/.
  7. Rodriguez, Karmen Heredua. “Puerto Rico’s Water System Stutters Back to Normal.”
  8. Government Technology: State & Local Government News Articles, Emergency Management, 20 June 2018, www.govtech.com/em/disaster/Puerto-Ricos-Water-System-Stutters-Back-to-Normal.html.
  9. “Substances Causing Pollution in Rivers .” Water Wise – Substances Causing Pollution in Rivers, www.waterwise.co.za/site/water/environment/substances.html.
  10. Weir, Bill. “20,000 Pallets of Bottled Water Left in Puerto Rico.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Sept. 2018, www-m.cnn.com/2018/09/12/us/puerto-rico-bottled-water-dump-weir/index.html?r=https://www.google.com/.

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Puerto Rico’s Water Pollution. (2022, Apr 29). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/puerto-rico-s-water-pollution/

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