Portugués and Bucana Rivers PR (C)

May 2023


Portugués and Bucana Rivers, PR
Construction (C)
Congressional District: Puerto Rico


This project was authorized by HD 422/91/2, R&H Act of 31 Dec 70 PL 91-611. Mountainous terrain in the upper basins permits rapid runoff into the rivers that overflow in the urban area of Ponce, causing loss of life and extensive property damage ($0.6 billion). Prior to the initiation of project construction, flooding occurred almost annually. The Standard Project Flood (SPF) flood protection project involves construction of 9.1 miles of channel improvements, two multi-purpose dams with uncontrolled emergency spillways, a dependable water supply for the Ponce area, and recreational facilities on the lakes and channels. The Cerrillos Dam is located on the Cerrillos (Upper Bucana) River 9.5 miles above its mouth. The Cerrillos Dam is 323 feet high. Its reservoir will provide 47,900 acre-feet of flood control and water supply storage. The estimated water supply yield of Cerrillos is 22.0 m.g.d. The Portugués Dam flood control structure is located on the Portugués River 8.3 miles above its mouth. The Portugués Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam is 219 feet high. The reservoir provides a total storage of 12,325 acre-feet.


Estimated Total Cost $839,100,000
Estimated Federal Cost $639,600,000
Allocation thru FY 22 $637,560,000
Allocation for FY23  $0
President’s Budget FY24 $0



Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
P.O. Box 366147
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936




Construction began in Fiscal Year 1975. Flood reduction benefits have been achieved already by this project. Work on the Bucana Channels and the Portugués Channels have been completed.

Cerrillos Dam

In August 1997, the Cerrillos Dam was turned over to the sponsor. The sponsor requested to re-assess the water supply storage costs of benefits based on conditions at the time the project was placed into service. The revised Cost Allocation Report was completed in August 2005 and approved by Headquarters, US Army Corps of Engineers (HQUSACE) with no change to the water storage cost. A final demand letter was provided to the local sponsor on 15 August 2012 indicating that the Corps will be referring the case to the Treasury and Department of Justice for collection. Currently, the Corps has approved the Commonwealth’s request for debt compromise to include cumulative debt forgiveness and a revised payment plan at a lower interest rate that the one stipulated on the original agreement. The first recreational sites were completed for Lake Cerrillos at a cost of $9.0 million in June 2005. The four remaining Lake Cerrillos recreation facilities were awarded in September 2005 at a cost of $4.0 million. The contract was completed in January 2009 and transferred to the local sponsor.

Portugués Dam

The Portugues Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam was awarded on 14 March 2008 to Dragados USA in the amount of $180 million. Construction started in June 2008 and completed in December 2013. The final transfer to the local sponsor for Operation and Maintenance was completed in April 2016. A warranty repair was conducted on the intake structure and all work was completed and fully tested in December 2020. The dam is operating under normal conditions and no additional work is required.