Puerto Rico’s drinking water is the most contaminated water in the United States, GOP Rep. John Shimkus said Tuesday.
“In Puerto Rico, Hurricanes Irma and Maria uncovered the intensified issues associated with aging and inefficient energy infrastructure, contaminated sites that are rapidly multiplying, landfills that are already overflowing, and possibly the most contaminated drinking water supply in the United States,” Shimkus told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to The Washington Examiner.
About 10 percent of residents are still without a steady supply of safe drinking water, according to the Puerto Rican government. However, even this number is an improvement from a month ago when more than one-third of the country did not have access to safe drinking water.
Because of the widespread damage to water supply infrastructure and contamination to wells, island water authorities have been forced to tap into wells at former Superfund sites used to store hazardous chemicals. The EPA tested the wells on the sites after water distribution had begun and ruled the water safe to drink, according to CNN.
Contaminated water on the island has lent to the spread of disease. Leptospirosis, an easily treatable disease spread through animal urine in standing water, threatened the island. Under normal circumstances, recovering from the disease is easy, and some recover without any treatment at all. Because of the lack of medical access and supplies in the weeks after Maria, however, the disease became fatal if left untreated.
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