Efforts Continue On Behalf of the Acueducto

December 8, 2015 by Nancy Tinker

The Antiguo Acueducto del Rio Piedras is the oldest municipal water system in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Constructed in the late-19th century, this National Register-listed resource helped to foster much of the growth of Puerto Rico’s principle city, San Juan.

Presently, the US Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to construct a flood control project for Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras. As currently designed, this proposal entails demolishing the Acueducto’s cultural resources and constructing an elevated concrete channel designed to carry and to control the river’s flow. Beyond the loss of the Acueducto’s assemblage of 19th century buildings, the containment of the Rio Piedras in an enclosed channel will leave behind a dry river bed and decimate the lush landscape surrounding the Acueducto. In June of this year, the National Trust and our partner, Para la Naturaleza were contacted by the Army Corps who indicated willingness to redesign that portion of the flood control project impacting the Acueducto. In order to implement a change of this magnitude, the Corps is required to complete a document known as a Project Redesign Authorization Report.

In recent months, there has been no communication from the Corps. As the National Trust and Para la Naturaleza are uncertain of the Corps’ degree of commitment to redesign, we have approached the Puerto Rico Department Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to ask if the Corps has communicated with DNER regarding project amendments. As DNER is the Puerto Rican agency legally charged with sponsoring the flood control effort, it is likely staff there could have information unknown to others. As DNER has no recent information, the National Trust and staff of Para la Naturaleza are crafting a letter for DNER’s signature which requests information pertinent to preparation of a Project Redesign Authorization Report and the steps/timeframe required to complete this effort.

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