NEW YORK — Sept. 15, 2015 — The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) will upgrade the island’s sewage infrastructure under a settlement agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a press release.
As a result of this agreement, PRASA will make major upgrades, improve inspections and cleaning of existing facilities within the Puerto Nuevo system and continue improvements to its systems island-wide, noted the release. The Puerto Nuevo sewer system serves the municipalities of San Juan and Trujillo Alto, and portions of Bayamón, Guaynabo and Carolina.
According to the EPA, this settlement updates and expands upon legal agreements reached with PRASA in 2004, 2006 and 2010.
Acknowledging the economic situation in Puerto Rico, the U.S. government waived the payment of civil penalties associated with violations covered by the settlement, which include releases of untreated sewage and other pollutants into waterways in the San Juan area, stated the release.
PRASA will prioritize island-wide capital improvement projects and take into consideration the effect of each requirement on the population served.
“These upgrades are urgently needed to reduce the public’s exposure to serious health risks posed by untreated sewage,” commented Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in the release.
“The United States has taken Puerto Rico’s financial hardship into account by prioritizing the most critical projects first, and allowing a phased-in approach in other areas, but let me be clear that these requirements are necessary for the long-term health and safety of San Juan area residents.”
“This agreement will reduce the massive amount of untreated sewage and other pollutants that harm major waterways in the San Juan area, improving water quality and public health conditions for thousands of people,” added Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator in the release.
You can find the entire release here.