Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dangerous Drought

Many of the Caribbean Islands are suffering from severe drought. From the Lesser Antilles through Cuba, rain has been almost nonexistent this year.
 
On Wednesday, the US Department of Agriculture notified Puerto Rico that 28 municipalities on the island can be considered disaster zones.  

The following municipalities can now get some federal help in dealing with this water crisis:
 Arroyo, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cayey, Cidra, Fajardo, Las Piedras, Luquillo, Maunabo, Patillas, Rio Grande, Trujillo Alto y  Yabucoa are suffering the worst shortages.
The others are Aguas Buenas; Comerío; Loíza; Aibonito; Guayama; Naguabo;  Barranquitas; Gurabo; Salinas; Caguas; Humacao; San Juan; Ceiba; Juncos; y San Lorenzo.
  
Here are some of the main impacts:
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 20 percent of Puerto Rico's total land area is currently experiencing "extreme" to "exceptionally extreme" drought.
  • Many schools are rationing water and are only operating Monday through Thursday and with a shortened hours.. Some school breakfasts are at risk of being canceled and lunches may be reduced or modified when the schools do not have water.
  • This drought in Puerto Rico is impacting  2.5 million people.
  • 180,000 customers now receive water only every third day
  • July was the fourth driest month on record in San Juan since 1898, with only 1.60 inches of rain.
  • So far this year, San Juan is running a 12 inch deficit , while some rural areas are on the dry side by as much as 20 inches. 

The rationing measures began when the governor declared a state of emergency in mid-May, and government officials have said customers might see cuts of more than 48 hours if dry conditions persist.
Other Caribbean islands also are struggling with a drought, including Jamaica, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

This is an update on the drought impacting other areas as well:
  •  The drought affecting Honduras could cause famine in around 80 per cent of the national territory, said the General Secretary general of the National Union of Peasants, Marcial Caballero.

  • The Panama Canal Authority says it will temporarily cut the draft of ships allowed through because of drought caused by El Niño. From 8 September, the maximum draft -- or depth in the water -- will be cut to 39ft, which may affect up to 20% of traffic
  •  A lack of major infrastructure from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has contributed to the water woes Tobago is currently facing. This was stated by Chief Secretary Orville London, who spoke on the issue at the weekly media briefing at the Administrative Complex, Calder Hall. Areas most affected by the water shortage include Plymouth, Turtle Beach, Mt.Grace, and Charlotteville
  •  Cuba is under water shortages for roughly 75% of the island.

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