Jenniffer González secures provisions for additional funds for the Caño Martín Peña and flood control work on the Water Resources Development Act of 2020
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) introduced the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), to be considered for full-committee vote tomorrow, Wednesday, July 15. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved their version of this legislation at the beginning of May, which will most likely result in the need to reconcile both versions during conference.
House legislation increases the authorized funds for the Caño Martín Peña to $232,430,000 and advances the projects for flood control in Rio Culebrina, Rio Grande de Manatí and the Rio Guayanilla in Puerto Rico, as reported by the Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González Colón, who serves in the T&I Committee.
“The Caño Martín Peña project is crucial for the development of 8 communities, San Juan and neighboring municipalities. This increase in authorized cost from $150 million to $232,430,000 improves the project's budget capacity by using the cost estimate established during the 2016 feasibility phase. I am confident this will have a positive impact and am proud that we are putting the project in a better position to move forward,” explained the Resident Commissioner.
Additionally, the bill lists Rio Guayanilla, Rio Culebrinas in Aguada and Aguadilla and the Rio Grande de Manatí in Ciales, among the projects that require expedited completion and a Chief's Report. This phase greatly benefits the development of these projects and precedes the construction planning and design stage of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
WRDA grants authority to the Corps to carry out water resources development projects and studies, as well as operational reforms. At a national level, the bill authorizes the construction of all 34 pending Chief’s Reports, authorizes 35 feasibility studies for water resources development projects, directs the USACE to complete 5 comprehensive river basin studies and expedite the completion of 41 feasibility studies.
In turn, the House Committee on Appropriations included report language offered by Congresswoman González-Colón, which will accompany the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021. Said language urges USACE to include the necessary funds for the Caño Martín Peña project in future budget allocations and to work with the non-federal sponsor, the Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, to advance the project to the next phase as soon as possible. Lastly, it provides 45 days for USACE to inform the Committee on Appropriations on the status and future plans for this project. In this effort, they must identify any circumstance that may be hindering the selection of the Caño as “New Start Project” for construction.
Similarly, the bill report includes language presented by González Colón that urges the Corps to include necessary funds for the continuation of the Rio Guayanillla project , currently under review, in future budget allocations, and to inform the Committee about the status of the study of this project and future plans. In 2019, the Resident Commissioner secured an allocation of $3 million to carry out the feasibility study for the flood risk management project in Rio Guayanilla .