Technical Assistance Program for Small Water Systems

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewers Authority provides drinking water service to 97% of the population of Puerto Rico. The rest of the population, which lives mainly in rural, isolated areas with mountainous terrain, obtains their drinking water from small systems operated by the communities themselves. Generally, these systems provide only a small degree of treatment and frequently do not meet applicable standards. Meeting the standards is difficult since the communities are short on administrative, technical and financial resources. This project, sponsored by the Drinking Water Program of the Health Department and conducted jointly with the Environmental Health Department of the School of Public Health of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus, has implemented a series of programs aimed at improving the situation. The most important part is the use of a circuit rider to assist the communities in improving their water systems. The work at each community starts with a meeting with its leaders to explain the scope of the project and solicit their input on their needs. This is followed by periodic visits to determine the operational status of the system, provide training to the staff and assist in technical, management and financial matters. The next step is the development of an action plan that is discussed with the community and then implemented during the second year of the project. On a parallel track, a capacity analysis is performed in order to measure progress. Other work has included activities related to community organization such as the development of educational materials, mapping of existing facilities and assistance with reporting requirements.

Projects:

Improving Slow Sand Filters (SSF) for Communities with Low Incomes and Limited Water Access Angelica Erazo-Oliveras, Olga Mayol, and Rafael Rios [PPT]