FEMA approves $114 million to repair water treatment plant
La Plata Reservoir
By THE STAR STAFF
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently approved over $114 million to repair the Enrique Ortega Water Treatment Plant in Toa Alta, which has the capacity to treat about 85 million gallons of water per day for Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) clients who are supplied by the La Plata Reservoir.
A PRASA asset, the plant services about 475,000 residents in the Toa Alta region, which comprises six municipalities.
The funds aim to optimize water treatment processes including stabilization, oxidation and disinfection. In addition, the work includes replacing water supply pumps and the chemical feed systems, which are essential for effective water treatment. Other repairs to the existing main control building at the facility are being contemplated and include architectural components as well as upgrades to the plant’s control room.
“Through this approval, we seek to strengthen the water treatment system on the island, which is an essential component during disasters,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero. “We will continue working closely with PRASA and the government of Puerto Rico to ensure that our communities have a better infrastructure for this vital service.”
To face disasters such as Hurricane Maria and help reduce and prevent future damage in similar events, the project includes over $2.3 million for hazard mitigation. That work includes the installation and relocation of a new motor control center and building to minimize flood damage, the installation of geotextile fabric over slopes to prevent future erosion from heavy rains and runoff, and the replacement of damaged lights and components with units that are more resistant to high-velocity wind and wind-driven rain.
PRASA Executive President Doriel Pagán Crespo noted that “the Enrique Ortega Treatment Plant is one of PRASA’s largest and most important plants.”
“The authority, together with FEMA and COR3 [the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency], have worked hand in hand without interruption to obtain authorization for these projects for the benefit of our clients,” she said. “Once again, the effort and commitment of the authority is demonstrated, as is the focus of our governor to put our system at the highest level.”
The funds to repair the La Plata plant are part of PRASA’s recovery budget of $3.6 billion under FEMA’s Accelerated Awards Strategy, known as FAASt. So far, 41 subprojects have been approved for a total of more than $1.1 billion. Additional funding for hazard mitigation activities for these water system projects totals over $26.3 million to date.