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Looming Water Crisis in Puerto Rico, Where Cash Has Run Dry

By David Schultz, Daily Environment Report on August 23, 2017

A public health crisis is imminent in Puerto Rico as its main provider of water and sewer services has lost the ability to borrow money, a consequence of the island’s still unfolding debt problems, a former water official and others familiar with the U.S. commonwealth told Bloomberg BNA.

Construction on pipes, filtration systems, and other water infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico is at a standstill. This may already be impacting the safety of drinking water for its 3.4 million residents: the credit problems have coincided with an increase in water quality violations, according to EPA enforcement data reviewed by Bloomberg BNA.

Amid the debt crisis, the Environmental Protection Agency has cut off Puerto Rico from accessing the water infrastructure loans it regularly provides to all 50 states. Peter Grevatt, head of the agency’s drinking water office, said the island may never be able to fully repay the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans it took out from the EPA to build up its water infrastructure.

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