Press Release

Operation Agua Donations Reach $1 Million, Filters Being Delivered Across Puerto Rico to Bring Safe Drinking Water to Families

AFT President Randi Weingarten to Visit Puerto Rico Next Week to Participate in Filter Distribution Efforts

For Release: 

Friday, November 17, 2017


Marcus Mrowka
202-531-0689 (cell)

WASHINGTON—Operation Agua, a crowdsourced campaign to provide safe drinking water to the people of Puerto Rico, has received $1 million in donations, with containers full of thousands of water filters reaching Puerto Rico every week and being distributed to schools and families across the island. The effort was launched last month by the American Federation of Teachers; the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico; Operation Blessing; the Hispanic Federation; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; TOTE Maritime; and the Seafarers International Union.

Operation Agua’s initial goal is to purchase and distribute 100,000 individual water filtration systems for households and classrooms, and 50 large-capacity clean-water devices for a network of nonprofit organizations, union offices, schools and other community-based groups to provide stable and reliable sources of safe water.

A single $30 contribution provides an in-home Kohler Clarity purifier that requires no electricity and provides more than 10 gallons of safe water per day to a family. And $5,000 delivers a disinfectant generator that can disinfect 150,000 gallons per day—enough safe water for thousands of people.

“We launched Operation Agua to bring immediate relief to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, who have been without reliable access to safe drinking water for nearly two months. As a result of the generosity of people to Operation Agua, water filters are currently being delivered to an initial 400 schools, reaching 125,000 students and thousands more are being distributed to families across the island through our partners,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, who will visit Puerto Rico Monday and Tuesday to meet with educators and students and participate in distribution efforts.

Weingarten continued, “We’ve seen a tremendous response from people and organizations across the country who are chipping in what they can to help Puerto Ricans who, two months out from Hurricane Maria, still don’t have reliable access to safe drinking water and whose children are going back to schools without power or safe water. Teachers and students have been raising money in their classrooms and schools to send to Puerto Rico. This is who we are as a union that fights and cares for people, but, as we said when we launched this campaign, it is not and cannot be a substitute for federal action, which continues to be woefully inadequate. President Trump and Congress have a duty and a responsibility to the people of Puerto Rico, American citizens, who are not getting the relief and response they need from the federal government to meet even their basic needs of water and electricity.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.