The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin holding water at Portugues Dam within the next week.
Officials at the Corps received the go-ahead to begin initial filling operations after a power line was relocated in the vicinity of the newly constructed dam. The flood control structure near Ponce, Puerto Rico was formally dedicated in February after construction was finished in December, 2013.
“This is the next important milestone in making this project operational,” said Laureen Borochaner, Engineering Division Chief and Dam Safety Officer for Jacksonville District. “We want to monitor the dam’s response to the impoundment process and take any necessary actions to ensure long-term performance of the structure.”
The initial filling of the reservoir will take place in multiple stages. Water managers will allow runoff from rainfall to collect in the pool, pausing at predetermined elevations to ensure the dam is performing as designed. After the dam is checked at each level, more water will be collected in the reservoir until the dam passes its checks at an elevation of 439.8 feet, the top of the conservation pool and the maximum desired elevation.
“The timing and length of this phase of testing is dependent on when the rain falls, and how much falls at one time,” said Luis Alejandro, water management engineer with the Jacksonville District. “We anticipate this process will last a few months at a minimum.”
Portugues Dam is a 220-foot high, roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dam located northwest of Ponce, and is expected to reduce impacts from flooding on the Portugues River. It is the final component of the Portugues & Bucana flood risk management project, and is the first thick-arch RCC dam built by the Corps.
For more information on the Portugues Dam Project, visit the Jacksonville District website at
Release no. 14-032