June 13, 2021

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Puerto Rico Community Foundation receives a millionaire injection to strengthen community aqueducts on the Island

Algarrobo Community Aqueduct, in Aibonito. Photo: Supplied

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Community Foundation (FCPR) signed a funding grant agreement with the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), under the risk mitigation program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the purpose of establishing energy redundancy systems that include solar systems and emergency generators in the community aqueducts of Puerto Rico, to guarantee their uninterrupted operation since they provide drinking water to thousands of families in our communities.

In its first phase of the $ 25 million grant, $ 1.7 million has been authorized to carry out the feasibility analysis to identify the optimal infrastructure for each aqueduct, work plans, environmental impact, and community education and participation processes. It is estimated that some 242 community aqueducts, located in 44 municipalities, particularly in the central area and in rural areas, will benefit from this initiative.

“The Community Foundation quickly identified, after Hurricane María, the need for communities to have access to water, a vital resource for health and life in our communities. We identified in the community aqueducts the mechanism to enable the impact at scale of our strategy that we call Water for Us. Since then, we have worked with over 60 community aqueducts, providing physical infrastructure, support in the management of water quality and in administrative processes and community organization. This grant allows us to broaden our scope and focus on providing them not only with access to the solar energy infrastructure, but also strengthening them for the management and ownership of it ”, indicated Dr. Nelson I. Colón Tarrats, president of the FCPR.

On the other hand, the FCPR received another grant of $ 150,000 from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), to focus on strengthening some five community aqueducts in the south, which have been impacted by the earthquakes. This grant will be used to strengthen its infrastructure, including improvements to water storage tanks, water distribution systems, development of deep wells, as well as the acquisition of materials for water quality management, among others. This project is expected to benefit over 500 people who use these systems. In the southern region of the island, some 31 community aqueducts have been identified that have been affected by seismic activity.

Also this year, thanks to a contribution of $ 250,000 from Global Giving, will initiate the establishment of an Association of Community Aqueducts, so that they can have an organization that groups, supports and represents the community aqueducts of Puerto Rico. It is important to note that this initiative to create an organization that brings together all the community aqueducts in Puerto Rico was born from the first three encounters regional community aqueducts, in which challenges and knowledge were shared, and the creation and development of said organization was identified as the best strategy to address their challenges and opportunities. The objective of the Association of Community Aqueducts is to promote the sustainability and sustainability of these community businesses, facilitate education and learning processes, address challenges and opportunities, and have a unified voice before the different local and federal government structures.

FCPR’s Agua Pa ‘Nosotros program provides access to potable water by strengthening these communities in four essential areas of their community aqueducts: infrastructure, community organization, administration, and compliance with regulatory agencies. At present, Agua Pa ‘Nosotros has had relations with 102 communities with community aqueducts, of which some 60 aqueducts have received technical assistance, 20 communities have been granted donations to improve their infrastructure; Two emergency centers have been developed in communities with community aqueducts, and 13 community aqueducts received donations to support community actions against the Covid-19 pandemic. This FCPR program has had the following partners and donors: Hispanic Federation, Global Giving, Oxfam, and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The Puerto Rico Community Foundation is honored to support a living example of community empowerment and self-management, such as community aqueducts, and to guarantee the fundamental right of access to drinking water.

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