(May 19, 2020- Washington, D.C.)– Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, John Barrasso, and Ranking Member Thomas R. Carper thanking them for reporting S. 3591, American’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA) favorably out of the Committee. If enacted, this legislation would stem the spread of invasive species; expedite the study of projects for flood risk management; and give the San Juan Bay priority consideration under the National Estuary Program. Additionally, this bill would provide reauthorization for the Caño Martín Peña (CMP) restoration project, one of the major priorities for the Government of Puerto Rico. In a separate written communication, Vázquez Garced urged the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter A. DeFazio, and Ranking Member Sam Graves to consider and approve S.3591, or include the provisions regarding Puerto Rico in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA) reauthorization.
The Caño Martín Peña is a priority for the Government of Puerto Rico as it extends for 3.75 miles in the San Juan Bay Estuary in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Due to decades of informal development, it has dried up and is congested with debris, sediment, and organic waste. This congestion has exposed the surrounding residents to high concentrations of bacteria and other contaminants. Additionally, the lack of adequate infrastructure combined with the blocked channel has led to the body of water’s deterioration. The impact of Hurricanes Irma and María further exacerbated these issues. As such, the reauthorization of the CMP restoration program is critical to protect the welfare and safety of the island’s citizens from natural and human-made threats and to reduce the risk of future damages from flood storm events.
“We thank the Senate Committee for approval and inclusion of Puerto Rico in the AWIA 2020 and urge the House to approve or include this vital legislation in the WRDA 2020,” said Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced. “The Caño Martín Peña has always been a priority; the reauthorization of this project will provide the necessary resources to reduce the risk of future damages from flood storm events as we approach the 2020 Hurricane season. This legislation would also generate new economic development opportunities for the island as Puerto Rico continues to recover from the 2017 hurricanes, ongoing earthquakes, and the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Governor added, “If enacted, this reauthorization will provide access to available resources to ensure the health and welfare of the people of Puerto Rico and the economic well-being of the island.”
“As the island continues to recover and the 2020 Hurricane season approaches, it is important that we prioritize the safety of the people of Puerto Rico,” said Jennifer M. Storipan, Esq. “S. 3591, as reported out of Committee, will assist with the existing congestion of the Caño Martín Peña, helping the island to prepare in the event of severe flooding; it will also include resources to reduce the health threat to surrounding communities. We urge the full Senate to consider this crucial legislation and for the House to consider or include the provisions regarding Puerto Rico in the WRDA 2020 reauthorization so that we can continue to protect the welfare of thousands.”