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EPA Administrator Highlights Tens of Millions Given to Commonwealth for Drinking Water Improvements

Release Date: 12/12/2002
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(#02132) SAN JUAN, P.R. – At a ceremony today held at the Sergio Cuevas drinking water filtration plant, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman presented the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with a check for $10,741,300 which will be used to fund low interest loans to improve drinking water plants. The capitalization grant brings to more than $66 million the total amount of money provided to Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) through the federal drinking water state revolving fund. PRDOH loans the money - with a 20% match – to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) for drinking water plant upgrades and improvements.

“Ensuring that drinking water is safe is one of the most important things government can do for the people it serves,” said Administrator Whitman. “I am pleased to give this money to the Commonwealth to secure the quality of drinking water for the future.”

EPA has two revolving fund programs - one to help pay for upgrades to drinking water plants and one to pay for waste water treatment upgrades. The drinking water revolving fund was created by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments. Up until September 30, 2002, this loan program allowed funds to be transferred from the waste water treatment revolving fund to the drinking water fund. In September 2002, the Commonwealth chose to transfer $11.1 million from the sewage treatment plant fund to support the design and construction of needed upgrades to the filtration technology at the Sergio Cuevas Water Filtration Plant.

The money given to the Commonwealth in today’s ceremony will be used to replace a decade’s old filtration plant in Aņasco with a new plant to better serve the more than 28,000 people that this system serves.

The Sergio Cuevas drinking water filtration plant is part of Puerto Rico’s Metropolitano public water system, the largest drinking water system managed by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). The plant provides 50% of the San Juan metropolitan area’s drinking water. The funds will help pay for the design and construction of the water storage and distribution tank project, part of capital improvements to continue to provide high quality drinking water and protect the health of the 1.4 million consumers served by this water system.

EPA REGION 2 – Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, Brenda Reyes, 787-977-5801

EPA– Headquarters, Lina Younes, 202-569-008