Members of the National Guard began work today on a project to dredge and clean the Coamo River, in order to prevent floods caused by natural rain phenomena from causing flooding in communities near the body of water.
“It is a project of great benefit to the community for which we have requested the approval of the Department of Defense to use personnel and equipment from the National Guard”said the adjutant general of the National Guard in Puerto Rico, José J. Reyes, who visited the area today along with the mayor of Coamo, Juan Carlos García Padilla.
In a telephone interview with Primera Hora, Reyes explained that the work began in the Turkey sector, at the height of the PR-556 highway in Coamo. “Over the years the floodwaters of the river have brought garbage and vegetative material. There are trees and weeds that have grown along the river and it must be cleaned because that obstructs its natural flow and causes flooding, especially when storms and hurricanes come. “he explained.
The military said that the dredging will also benefit the Vega Puente sector on the PR-14 highway, which runs from Aibonito to the entrance of the so-called Villa de San Blas de Illescas. “That area has also been filling with vegetative material and garbage,” Reyes said, adding that the dredging will benefit hundreds of families living in areas bordering the Coamo River, which when it grows “becomes a very mighty one.”
He indicated that the project has been coordinated with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) for permitting and with the United States Corps of Engineers.
He said that the National Guard has also been working for three weeks on the canalization of the Yagüez River, in Mayagüez and said that both projects, the Coamo and the Sultana del Oeste, have an approximate cost of $ 1.6 million. The Coamo project will be financed with federal funds, while the Mayagüez project will involve combined state and federal funds.
He explained that the work in Coamo will take around 45 days and said that they expect to finish both projects on or before September 30, which “is when our federal funds end, so we are accelerating the project.”
Reyes indicated that the work is carried out by heavy equipment operators, drivers and assistants and that the mayors are in charge of permitting with the DRNA and identifying where the waste and debris are going to be deposited.
He said that both projects will minimize the chances of overflowing and affecting hundreds and thousands of homes along water bodies.
“Once we move the garbage and vegetative material, we remove the stones from the river and make a natural channel. We move them to the right and left side of the riverbed and make a natural channeling with the stones themselves. At the beginning of the year we did it in the Juana Díaz river and in the case of Mayagüez, it has a canalization with cement walls of approximately 20 feet, but for the past 40 and 50 years no cleaning has been done and there are areas where that there are 4 and 5 feet of drool. All that is being removed and the land is being taken to the municipal dump to cover garbage, “she explained.
“If you have that complete clean channel to the mouth in the sea, you avoid flooding in Mayagüez for the next 40 to 50 years because you have a channel that looks like a highway about 50 feet wide that is that channel and you have nothing to force the overflow of that river that would cause major disasters in Mayagüez, ”added Reyes.