Community aqueducts in Puerto Rico undergoing $9M in repairs
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated nearly $9 million through several of its programs to repair 231 community aqueducts throughout Puerto Rico, which will provide access to drinking water to more than 2,000 families, the agency announced.
The funds from the agency’s Public Assistance Program will be distributed between communities in 10 municipalities: Adjuntas, Aguas Buenas, Barranquitas, Caguas, Comerío, Corozal, Naranjito, Ponce, San Lorenzo and Yabucoa.
Furthermore, through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, nearly $1.8 million were assigned for the first phase of a project to assess the viability of backup-power at 232 vulnerable communities.
This will prevent the interruption of the potable water supply to some 100,000 residents. Due to their location, these communities don’t have access to water and sewage connections through the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA).
“Today, as we celebrate World Water Day, we reaffirm our commitment for Puerto Rican families to have access to water, which is a fundamental right for human beings. So far, we have allocated a total of nearly $9 million for 231 community aqueduct projects with the goal of helping these communities that would otherwise lack drinking water,” said FEMA’s Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico, José G. Baquero.
Repairs to one such facility, the aqueduct of the San Diego Abajo sector in Coamo, will benefit about 98 families, said Brenda Guzmán, project manager at the Puerto Rico Community Foundation.
The mitigation project aims for the aqueducts to “have an emergency generator available and that it can also, through an efficient pumping system, use solar panels. This project addresses a primary need for these communities that depend on electric service to operate their community aqueducts systems,” she said.
Meanwhile, repairs were already completed at the Santas Pascuas Sector Community Aqueduct Inc. in Ponce, which serves some 63 families. The work included the replacement of PVC pipes from the water inlet to the storage tank with a 52,000-gallon capacity.
In addition, a section of the pipeline on the surface was replaced and a retaining wall will be built.
The allocation of $56,000 for this project includes funds for hazard mitigation measures like the restrengthening of the ground to prevent erosion, among others.
“It’s extremely important, because we have people with disabilities and children,” said Solsiree Rosario Rivera, president of the Santas Pascuas Aqueduct. “Basically, it’s something that we needed. Now, with the help that we’ll have, that will benefit us by us having a better water service without the fear of losing it.”
The aqueducts outside of PRASA’s network are vital for some rural sectors that lack the drinking water service that other communities have access to.
FEMA’s allocations are earmarked for repairing and reinforcing these wells and their systems. The improvements that will be done, allow to advance the recovery process that the families will undergo in case of a future storm.
“Currently, COR3 has disbursed more than $5.4 million for approximately 200 projects that make the availability of drinking water feasible in communities that can’t get PRASA’s service,” said Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy.
“We will continue supporting communities to advance these reconstruction projects,” he said.