• The Star Staff

PRASA to start construction of new analysis laboratory in Caguas

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA) Executive Director Doriel Pagán Crespo announced Tuesday the start of construction work on the Central Analysis Laboratory, which tests water for bacteria and minerals, after the old lab was demolished due to damages inflicted by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The new laboratory project, which has a construction cost of $21 million and a total investment of $34 million, will begin this month, and will run until December 2021. The work consists of the design and construction of a 42,000-square-foot building, as well as improvements to the infrastructure. The design meets American Standards Association specifications and is in accordance with federal and state building codes effective 2018.

Prior to the project, the agency demolished the building that was destroyed by Hurricane Maria at a cost of $475,838. As part of this initial phase, all of the steel from the demolition was recycled.

“PRASA, the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked together to make the cost estimates, so the project will be built with its [PRASA’s] own funds and later be reimbursed by the federal agency,” Pagán Crespo said. “This laboratory will become the largest in the Caribbean; it will carry out local tests for Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which are currently being sent to the United States.”

The Central Laboratory of Caguas was inaugurated in the 1990s. In addition to this facility, PRASA has a regional bacteriology laboratory located in Mayagüez, as well as five sampling stations in San Juan (Metropolitan Region Sampling Station), Arecibo (North Region Sampling Station), Mayagüez (West Region Sampling Station), Ponce (South Region Sampling Station) and Humacao (Eastern Region Sampling Station).

The laboratory also performs analysis of the wastewater that is treated and then returned to the island’s bodies of water.

The tests certify that the water supplied by PRASA is potable, and meets the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as the Clean Water Act and other applicable federal and state environmental laws and regulations.

“The agency’s Laboratory has a team of expert professionals including licensed chemists, microbiologists, medical technologists and technical personnel committed to the health and well being of Puerto Rico, and above all, to serving quality drinking water,” Pagán Crespo said.

Adjustments for double-billed water clients

Pagán Crespo also said that some 140,000 customers’ bills were adjusted after water consumption for the month of March was overestimated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adjustments mean some $16 million will be reimbursed to consumers.

Pagán Crespo said that between the end of August and the beginning of September, 76,400 adjusted invoices were sent out.

“As of this week, until October, about 70,000 additional adjusted bills will be sent,” she said.

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