top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA OKs $3.8 million 1st phase of Martín Peña Channel flooding mitigation project

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge the fetid Martín Peña Channel has sat for decades on the drawing board.

By John McPhaul

As part of the efforts to mitigate the risk of flooding that the Martín Peña Channel represents for the residents of the Israel-Bitumul Norte community, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera announced Tuesday that approval was received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to develop the first phase of a project that will improve drainage in the area.

“With the allocation of $3.8 million that FEMA made for this first phase, which includes studies, design, engineering and environmental and historical evaluation, we continue and reaffirm our commitment to improve the quality of life of the residents of Caño Martín Peña,” Pierluisi said. “This is not about words, but about actions that speak for themselves and we have done that. Since I was resident commissioner and now as governor, I have maintained a great commitment to the Caño community, supporting them and making efforts in Congress and the federal government to obtain the necessary funds for projects in the area.”

Laboy Rivera pointed out meanwhile that the proposal presented by the Caño Martín Peña Project Corporation with technical assistance from COR3 “will have a positive impact on the quality of life of the community, since it will reduce flooding by rainwater, which will minimize public health and safety problems by improving environmental conditions.”

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) plan to dredge the fetid channel has sat for decades on the drawing board.

The latest proposed project will make stormwater, sanitary sewer and water infrastructure improvements, including all ancillary infrastructure and other work necessary to address identified risks.

At the beginning of this year, the governor announced the allocation of $230 million in federal funds for improvements in the Martín Peña Channel, as well as the San Juan Bay and the Culebrinas River. Pierluisi at that time noted that on May 4 of last year, a flood mitigation proposal for the Israel Bitumul Norte community area had been submitted to FEMA through COR3. Now that project is on track to materialize after the recent approval by FEMA of its first phase.

The allocation, from funds from the U.S. Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and other USACE funds, will strengthen port and river supply chains while boosting resilience to climate impacts.

José G. Baquero, FEMA’s federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico, stated that “through mitigation, we look for ways to strengthen structures beyond the damage they suffered as a result of the disaster.”

“The entire project represents a contribution of about $35 million, which will include demolition, construction and equipment, in order to minimize flooding in this community,” he said.

The COR3 executive director stressed that his team is aware of the environmental health risk that the channel represents.

“We are fully committed to continuing to assist the leadership of the Caño Martín Peña Project Corporation and we will continue to work as a team with FEMA until the development of this important project is completed,” Laboy Rivera said.

103 views0 comments
bottom of page