FEMA approves $2.7 million for first phase of Salinas waterworks project
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Executive President Doriel Pagán Crespo announced on Tuesday the approval of $2.7 million by the Risk Mitigation Grant Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the first phase of construction of a new filtration plant in Salinas.
“These funds contribute to adding another source of supply in the drinking water service for the 27,075 clients of the municipality of Salinas and, at the same time, they help to conserve the southern aquifer,” the governor said in a written statement. “We will continue working with speed and a sense of urgency to achieve these projects that are of direct benefit to our people. We thank the entire work team that has been key in streamlining the repair and construction projects, since we are showing how it has been possible to maximize the use of federal funds that we have received.”
The governor said the allocation of funds will cover the cost of planning, permits and design for the new filtering plant -- which will consist of the construction of a conventional water treatment plant that can process four million gallons per day -- near the irrigation canal in Patillas and highway PR-52. The raw water will be supplied from the Patillas and Juana Díaz irrigation canals.
The project will include the installation of raw water pipes, the construction of all the infrastructure necessary for the operation of the plant, and the construction of water pumping stations and installation of water pipes for distribution to all the systems that serve the municipality of Salinas, the urban system, Cocos and Aguirre.
Pagán Crespo noted that “both intakes will have the capacity to supply up to four million gallons per day to guarantee the sustainability of water when any of the irrigation channels is not in service or during an emergency.”
“Once this alternative is implemented, the recharge of the aquifer will be guaranteed; meanwhile, the wells will be maintained as an alternative supply method in case of any eventuality,” she said.
Meanwhile, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Director Manuel Laboy Rivera reiterated the project’s environmental benefits.
“It is part of the medium and long-term plans leading to the restoration of the southern aquifer, which has been affected by high rates of water extraction and by surface recharges, as well as reported droughts in that region,” he said.
The project consists of a total investment of $24.1 million. The planning, permitting and design phase will begin in the first quarter of 2022.