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USDA awards $358K to 8 rural water infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded grants totaling $358,000 to develop eight rural community water projects across Puerto Rico that were crippled by Hurricane María in 2017.

The funding is part of a global $272 million the agency will distribute across the US mainland and Puerto Rico under its Water and Waste Disposal loan and grant program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

The program serves people and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

The projects to benefit in Puerto Rico are:

Acueducto Rural El Manantial ($86,000)
El Manantial Rural Aqueduct located in Caguas provides water service to 128 residents. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Cuyon Water Services Inc. ($31,000)
This Rural Development investment will be used to assist the Cuyón Water Services Inc. community aqueduct located in Aibonito recover from the impacts of Hurricane Maria. The system has a 60,000-gallon tank that is out of service due to leakage problems with no access road and no security fence. The only water source is a 400-foot deep well with a 15 horsepower triphasic water pump with the chlorinator by injection at the source. In case of power outage, the system is operating with a borrowed 60-kw power generator with a small transfer switch panel that is burning the cables due to contact between them. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Acueducto Rural Turabo Arriba Inc. ($21,000)
This Rural Development investment will be used to assist the Turabo Arriba Rural Aqueduct located in Caguas recover from the impacts of Hurricane Maria. The facilities of this community were greatly affected after the passage of Hurricane Maria. The local power authority lines are still very vulnerable and become affected by any atmospheric event, which causes the community to lose power continuously. The community does not have a generator and consequently, when the power goes off, the community loses access to the drinking water system. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply, the USDA stated.

Asociacion de Residentes Sector La Cuesta Bo. San Diego Inc. ($21,000)
This Rural Development investment will be used to assist the Asociación de Residentes, Sector La Cuesta, Bo San Diego Inc. community aqueduct located in Coamo recover from the impacts of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority) is unable to unable to provide the infrastructure for drinking water in that zone, that spent about seven months without electricity or water after Hurricane María, because they did not have an emergency generator to supply the power during the disaster recovery. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Comunidad Cedrito Incorporado ($37,000)
The Comunidad Cedrito Inc. community aqueduct is located in Comerio, which also spent seven months without electric power after Hurricane María. After that, Hurricane Isaias passed through Puerto Rico in July 2020, leaving the community with no electric power again. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Comunidad Mana, Sector Lozada Inc. ($110,000)
The Comunidad Mana Rural Aqueduct located in Corozal serves 2,093 residents. With the disasters of Hurricanes Irma and Hurricane Maria, the community’s electrical infrastructure and road access were severely damaged. With lack of electric power, the community needed to run the aqueduct with an emergency power generator for eight months. The community had to manage strict rationing protocols because the aqueduct was supplied with just one pump system. Because of the ongoing repetitive outages in the area, the residents were experiencing drinking water shortages one to three times a week. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply. The project also includes minor repairs for the maintenance of its facilities, the federal agency stated.

Comunidad Sabana Inc. ($35,000)
This Rural Development investment will be used to help the recover from impacts on its facility from Hurricane Maria. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, PRASA was unable to provide potable water to residents for seven months due to lack of electricity. Three years later, Tropical Storm Isaiah hit the island and the power grid was affected again, leaving the aqueduct unable to provide water to its residents for five days. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Vacas III Incorporated ($17,000)
This Rural Development investment will be used to assist the aqueduct system Vacas III located in Villalba, Puerto Rico recover from impacts of Hurricane Maria. The system facilities consist of a well with a three-horsepower monophasic pump and three storage tanks. The system runs by gravity and has capacity to provide water to the entire community. The system is operating 24 hours. They currently have a 7,500-watt generator as an emergency back-up, but it does not have capacity to run the water pump with necessary voltage. The project will help ensure the community has a continuous water supply.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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