EPA approves $23 million for water infrastructure in Caguas, 4 other towns
EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. García
By THE STAR STAFF
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a $23 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund water infrastructure projects in Caguas, Coamo, Jayuya, Naranjito and Orocovis.
The EPA has formally approved work plans that will allow the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to proceed with the projects under the investment, according to an agency statement.
“When water infrastructure fails, it threatens people’s health and the environment. This Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment will improve the lives of Puerto Rico communities facing major water challenges,” EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. García said. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a unique and historic opportunity to correct longstanding environmental and economic injustices across America. This funding will create jobs while upgrading the island’s aging water infrastructure.”
DNER Secretary Anais Vega Rodríguez said “this historic EPA grant is an important additional step to improve the quality of our waters by allowing the management of a series of polluting sources and renewing deteriorated infrastructure.”
“Likewise, projects like these are truly essential for environmental protection and contribute to the socioeconomic development of the impacted regions,” she added. “The close collaboration between the EPA and the DNER to solve specific problems will continue with another series of projects during the coming years.”
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-cost financing, in some cases at zero percent interest, for local projects. To allow for the program to support more water quality and infrastructure improvement projects, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides additional capitalization grants to each state for the recipient’s program. Puerto Rico will receive $23,214,000 to use on the planning, design and construction of eligible water quality improvement and protection projects in the five targeted municipalities.
After consultation, the EPA and the government of Puerto Rico have identified specific projects which are vital to protect and improve water quality, aquatic life, recreation and natural habitat. Specifically, the EPA-approved projects are for the design and construction of sanitary sewer systems in four municipalities (Coamo, Jayuya, Naranjito and Orocovis), eliminating many private septic systems and sewer discharges around the island. A fifth project will eliminate a Caguas wastewater treatment facility that will turn into a wastewater pump station, thereby eliminating a major discharge point.
President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on November 15, 2021. The law’s investment in the water sector includes $50 billion to the EPA to strengthen the nation’s drinking water and wastewater systems -- the single largest investment in clean water that the federal government has ever made.