Since Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, the people of Puerto Rico have been working diligently to recover. In San Juan, it is hard to tell a hurricane even hit the island. Yet all it takes is a harrowing two-hour drive into the countryside to realize that everything is not back to normal.
Water Mission mobilized shortly after the storm hit, and initial assessments uncovered a unique need. With electricity knocked out for most of the island, there were hundreds of rural communities with intact water systems that were inoperable because there was no power available. Power is a part of every water project, so Water Mission disaster relief teams immediately started focusing on reconnecting the existing water systems to reliable power sources.
With more than 16 years of disaster response experience and over 1,100 solar-powered installations worldwide, Water Mission was perfectly suited to help in Puerto Rico. Working alongside the EPA, FEMA, and other organizations, Water Mission responded quickly and efficiently by providing solutions to get safe water back into the homes of those affected. So far, the organization has restored safe water service in more than 40 communities. Homes in these rural communities have their own septic systems, and restoring water services also resolved the emerging sanitation crisis.
Reports on restoring power in Puerto Rico indicate that some communities may never be reconnected to the grid. For these unfortunate communities, Water Mission’s long-term solutions for ensuring water and wastewater services involve solar-powered microgrids, which function independently from the state’s power grid.
Recently, Water Mission engineers from around the world gathered in Puerto Rico for a week-long training seminar with corporate partners Grundfos (solar pump and inverter supplier) andBlue Planet Energy (large capacity battery supplier). The engineers learned best practices for incorporating partners’ products into solutions that provide reliable, safe water and restored sanitation services. Incorporating insights from the training, Water Mission is currently working to install solar-powered microgrids in 20 communities. The organization is committed to implementing these projects in Puerto Rico by the end of 2018.
For vulnerable communities, the microgrids are a big step toward self-reliance. For the people of rural Puerto Rico, these solutions mean that next time a storm hits, they won’t have to wait for more than six months to have power restored and safe water flowing.
To learn more about our disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, click here.