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OBI Partnerships Help Bring Safe Water Back to Puerto Rico

Field Report by David Burbach

PUERTO RICO – Over a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the crisis on the island continues. It’s estimated that 3 million people are still without power and 1 million still lack running water. While people can live without electricity, water is another matter. Operation Blessing is working hard to make sure our fellow Americans on Puerto Rico have access to safe water.

The Aqua Matic Reverse Osmosis Desalinator in the back of a truck.

A woman stands with her child and a bottle of safe drinking water.

After the storm passed, Operation Blessing staff arrived in Puerto Rico as soon as possible. It quickly became clear that water was the people’s greatest need. Though the logistics of transporting equipment to the island was a major hurdle, Operation Blessing soon had nine reverse osmosis systems operating in Puerto Rico. Each is capable of desalinating and purifying 1,800 gallons of salt or fresh water per day. In addition, three Sanilac-6 chlorine generators producing 150 gallons of chlorine per day each were set up in Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan. Their combined chlorine output is enough to disinfect over 1.2 million gallons of drinking water.

Operation Blessing has brought other safe water tools to bear on the Puerto Rico crisis as well. These include distributing more than 100,000 Aquatabs to disinfect drinking water, importing over 20 Kohler generators to provide power, handing out over 3,000 Kohler Clarity water filtration units, and bringing in 27 high-capacity chlorinators.

Operation Blessing setting up water purification equipment in Puerto Rico.

OBI’s main chlorine production site in the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in Puerto Rico.

However, even with all these assets in place, the need for safe water remains great. That’s why Operation Blessing is partnering with The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AMFSCME), The Hispanic Federation, and others in Operation Agua. With help from these Operation Blessing partners, we will be able to bring more Kohler Clarity filtration units, Sanilac-6 chlorine generators, Parker Reverse Osmosis Systems, and Water Mission Chlorinators to the island and expand our safe water footprint on Puerto Rico. The initial goal is to distribute 100,000 individual water filtration systems for households and classrooms and install at least 50 large-capacity safe water devices. Operation Agua will allow us to reach more and more Puerto Ricans with safe water during this critical time.

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