Amid one of the worst droughts in Puerto Rico’s history, the government has ramped-up drinking water rationing for 200,000 users in the San Juan area, restricting households to water every third day.
Rainfall deficits have been mounting since 2013, drying up rivers and streams at a record-breaking pace and making the possibility of fires a genuine concern.
The situation in Puerto Rico is nevertheless much more complex than just a lack of rain, according to Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense.
In May, which is traditionally one of the wettest months of the year in the US island territory, Governor Alejandro Padilla issued a state of emergency over the drought, which he blamed partly on the island’s struggling economy and the low priority given to water storage by previous governors.
Water rationing is nevertheless thought likely to worsen the fragile economy, currently mired in an eight-year recession and staggering under a US$73 billion debt burden.