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Latino Daily News

Friday May 10, 2013

Puerto Rico to Cut Off Water to Non-payers

Puerto Rico to Cut Off Water to Non-payers

Photo: Puerto Rico's water and sewer

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Puerto Rico’s heavily indebted state-owned water and sewer authority announced that it is cutting off service to customers who don’t pay their bills, including the municipal government of Arecibo.

AAA chief executive Alberto Lazaro and Arecibo Mayor Carlos Molina engaged in a war of words in the media Friday after the authority terminated water service to city hall.

AAA, which has debts of $340 million, took action after the Arecibo administration rejected a plan to pay off the $1.5 million it owes the water authority.

Several other municipalities that are heavily in arrears on their water bills have accepted payment plans, AAA customer service director Gustavo Marin said.

In August, the AAA will begin cutting off non-paying residential customers in Puerto Rico’s public housing complexes, Lazaro said.

Residents of public housing currently pay a fixed monthly rate of $19.76, regardless of how much water they use.

The AAA plans to boost water rates by an average of $20 a month.

Several scheduled rate hikes were postponed during the 2009-2013 administration of Gov. Luis Fortuño and the state Development Bank assumed part of the AAA’s debt, effectively postponing the crisis.

Besides its high indebtedness, the AAA is plagued by extensive loss of water due to deficiencies in the system.