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Thanks to Recovery Act, Puerto Rico Communities Get New Sewer Line; Project Will Protect Public Health, Create Jobs

Release Date: 02/03/2010
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes, (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov; John Senn, (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) In a move that protects public health and the environment while creating jobs and boosting the economy, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is dedicating more than $8 million of its American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade a sewer line that stretches from Loza to Carolina. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck and Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuo visited the Loza portion of the project today to check on its progress.

Using the Recovery Act money, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) is replacing a badly degraded three-mile-long sewer line that connects a pumping station in Torrecillas Alta Ward in Loza with the Carolina Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Carolina plant serves the municipalities of Carolina, Canovanas, Loza, Trujillo Alto and Rio Grande, and treats nearly 30 million gallons of sewage every day. The new, state-of-the-art sewer line will eliminate potential sewage leaks from the sewer line into the Rio Grande de Loza, which is used for fishing and recreational purposes.

“Upgrading of the sewer lines at the Carolina wastewater treatment facility is a great example of how we can combine job creation with environmental preservation and human health protection,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Ensuring the proper and efficient treatment of wastewater in Puerto Rico is vital to the health of Commonwealth’s nearly 4 million residents and invaluable aquatic ecosystems.”

Properly functioning sewer lines and other wastewater infrastructure systems are essential to protecting public health and the environment. Damaged equipment can lead to contaminated drinking water and recreational waterways, beach closings and pollution. The project will cost $14.9 million, with $8.5 million coming from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds awarded to Puerto Rico last year. The project is creating more than 90 new jobs in Puerto Rico and is expected to be completed by June. The Carolina Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant started operations in 1985, and is owned and operated by PRASA.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 17, 2009, and has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at http://www.Recovery.gov.

Last July, EPA awarded more than $50 million to the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board to help municipal governments and wastewater utilities fund projects to protect lakes, ponds and streams in communities across the Commonwealth. The grant went to the commonwealth’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. An unprecedented $4 billion has been awarded to fund wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Information on EPA’s implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in EPA Region 2, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/eparecovery/. Information on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program visit http://www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/cwsrf/.

2010-015