Beyond Recovery: Transforming Puerto Rico's Water Sector in the Wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria
The aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria highlighted vulnerabilities in Puerto Rico's water sector. Hurricane damage spanned Puerto Rico's water infrastructure, including drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and flood control, as well as its water resources. This damage was attributed to multiple causes: the preexisting vulnerability of the water sector infrastructure; direct damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria; and indirect disruption stemming from damage in other sectors, particularly the loss of electrical power. The recovery plan for the water sector in Puerto Rico involves not only repairing hurricane-damaged water infrastructure and systems but also fixing the significant legacy challenges in the water sector's infrastructure, operations, and governance.
This report details a framework for a hurricane recovery made up of 30 courses of action consistent with the government of Puerto Rico's priorities. These courses of action address key opportunities for enhancing resilience in Puerto Rico's water sector, which include upgrading the physical infrastructure, as well as asset management and operational systems, with the objective of developing systems that are better hardened against extreme events but also more flexible and efficient. In addition, building capacity of water sector management organizations and personnel can enhance efficiency, contingency planning, and the ability to take advantage of new technologies and practices. Improving situational awareness of water sector assets and developing performance metrics that can be tracked in real time can provide early warning of problems and accelerate emergency responses.
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