THE CAPITOL – The Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA) stated in public hearings that it does not see it feasible to finance a project to dredge the reservoirs in the foreseeable future.
“Each cubic meter of sediment that is dredged from the reservoirs in Puerto Rico will cost between $ 15 to $ 20. If we add the amounts of sediment that is necessary to remove from the most sedimented packages (Loíza, Dos Bocas, Lucchetti and Guayabal), we quickly estimate a total of about 40 to 50 million cubic meters, at a cost of between 600 to 1,000 million dollars (between 15 to 20 dollars per cubic meter). The AAA, the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNER) do not have funds for a project of this magnitude nor is it feasible that they can finance it in the foreseeable future ”, said Ann Ventura on behalf of Doriel Pagán , President of the AAA by written communication.
In addition, Ventura indicated, although they are currently collaborating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain federal funds that allow a possible partial dredging of the reservoir in Loíza, the order of magnitude of funds for that Dredging could be limited to removing the sediments associated with Hurricane Maria. He added that the necessary funds for the dredging of said reservoir have not yet been disbursed because they are in process with the federal agency.
In her question time, the senator of the Guayama District, Gretchen Hau, stated “I know that dredging has been a constant demand from both the municipal governments and the citizens themselves.” At the same time, he questioned José Bermúdez, head of the Risk, Dams and Reservoirs Division of PREPA, in what state the process with FEMA is. The PREPA representative replied that they are still in the technical process. There is no money paid out yet.
“Of those 20 dams, when Hurricane María hits, we made a request for funds to FEMA for all the reservoirs for dredging. From that request, FEMA approved money for eleven of us. That allocation is around 192 million dollars. The process establishes a ten-year plan that is submitted to FEMA with project developments. Lake Dos Bocas is included in that list, ”said Bermúdez, adding that dredging is expensive, especially when the accesses to many of them are in the mountains.
The purpose of RCS 32 is to order the AAA, PREPA and DNER to carry out all the pertinent steps and procedures to identify and request the funds necessary to carry out the dredging of the reservoirs that are under their administration, in order to restore capacity. water storage in them; order the design of a joint plan for the dredging of the aforementioned reservoirs; to establish compliance periods for these mandates; to provide the conditions of said agreement, prioritizing the Lake Dos Bocas reservoir.
The Department of Natural Resources, through Secretary Rafael Machargo, mentioned in his presentation that they are willing to collaborate, within the expert framework of their technical staff and scope of jurisdiction, to achieve the objectives of RCS 32. He explained as an example that the situation of the Cerrillos reservoir is healthy and supplies the required demand. “If this demand needs to be increased, it would be necessary to carry out a Bathymetry Study (study to measure the depth of the reservoir bottom) which could have a cost that should not exceed 5 million dollars and depending on the results that it yields, it could be necessary a dredging that could be around 25 to 40 million dollars ”, he says.
On the other hand, Sixto Machado, director of the Office of Geology and Hydrology of the Planning Board expressed that “we consider it very pertinent to take the necessary measures leading to the dredging of these very important bodies of water, to ensure the supply of this resource and the generation of electricity, which are vital elements for the life of the population and for the economic development of the Island ”.