Green infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico get a boost from EPA

EPA funds $149,000 for environmental improvements in San Juan community.

Nov 30th, 2016
The Caño Martín Peña community. Photo: US EPA.
The Caño Martín Peña community. Photo: US EPA.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, NOVEMBER 29, 2016 -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith Enck was joined today by a representative of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, representatives of the Resident Commissioner Elect Jennifer Gonzalez, and ENLACE Executive Director Lyvia Rodriguez to announce new funding for the Caño Martín Peña community. EPA will provide a total of $149,000 for green infrastructure projects. $80,000 will be used to work on green infrastructure design plans within the Caño Martín Peña community and $69,000 will be used to build a rain garden within the Caño Martín Peña community and study its effectiveness. Both projects seek to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality in the San Juan Bay Estuary's urban community.

Green infrastructure mimics natural processes to address flooding issues and to manage rainwater and use it as a resource. Green infrastructure replaces paved areas with permeable surfaces, allowing the rain to soak through the surface rather than running off it. Innovative green infrastructure designs benefit the environment and the community by naturally filtering water, by keeping pollutants from entering waterbodies, and by preventing wastewater systems from being overloaded.

"EPA is pleased to provide much needed funding to this community in San Juan," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. "This vibrant, densely populated community of 35,000 residents who live along the polluted canal will be able to use these resources to improve the economic and environmental conditions of where they live."

The Smart Growth funding was awarded to the design firm Spackman Mossop Michaels to work on green infrastructure designs within the Caño Martín Peña community. Over the next year, green infrastructure design options will be developed for five types of locations: residential water plazas; community parks or open green spaces; walking trails; a water plaza for existing vacant lands; and entryway water plazas. The project's final report will identify how the design options can be implemented throughout Puerto Rico.

Cedarville Engineering Group, LLC will work with Marvel & Marchand Architects LLP of San Juan to design, build, and evaluate a green infrastructure project within the Caño Martín Peña community. This project will begin construction in December 2016 at Albert Einstein High School, Calle Haydee Rexach, Esquina Borinquen, in San Juan and run through 2017. The study will monitor effectiveness of the green infrastructure designs, determine maintenance needs, and provide general assistance for the development and installation of green infrastructure practices for treating polluted runoff.

EPA developed the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to help communities develop green building and green infrastructure systems and to provide equitable development and housing options for residents. EPA's Regional Applied Research Effort Program provides research on high-priority environmental science issues. For more information on EPA's Smart Growth strategies, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth.

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