Photographer: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico Needs 250,000 Gallons of Diesel a Day to Pump Water

Puerto Rico’s water system is being run almost entirely off diesel-fueled generators. And once the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority brings even more generation online to pump and store water across the island, it’ll be using 250,000 gallons of diesel a day, according to Eli Diaz-Atienza, the authority’s executive president.

The agency’s getting about 40,000 gallons of diesel a day through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the rest coming from private suppliers. “Right now, we are working to increase our generation capacity for water through FEMA and through the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said, emphasizing the importance of federal aid.

The island’s water is being monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency. “We always try to let our people know that, when the system starts up, you should always boil water used for consumption,” he said, “at least for the first 72 hours of operations.”

The water authority is turning to diesel generators and considering batteries and solar after Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico’s grid last month. Most of the island has remained without power since.

(Corrects amount of diesel needed to gallons from barrels.)
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