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The Detailed Project Report/Environmental Assessment for Río Culebrinas which was completed June 2004, investigated feasible means to reduce the risk of floods that enter the Caño Madre Vieja drainage area, tributary of the Rio Culebrinas. The 2004 Recommended Plan has been validated for economic justification, environmental acceptability, and engineering feasibility. The Project and Engineering Design (PED) phase will follow, subject to funding. 

The Río Culebrinas Flood Damage Reduction Study was initially authorized under the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP), Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, Public Law 80-858, as amended. The project is now being planned under the Authority of Section 204 of the Flood Control Act of 1970, Public Law 91-611, authorizing studies for flood control in the United States and its territories. 

Division B, Subdivision 1, Title IV of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018 (Public Law 115-123), authorizes the Government to conduct the study at full federal expense to the extent that appropriations provided under the Investigations heading of the 2018 BBA are available and used for such purpose.

The Río Culebrinas flows westerly through the areas of San Sebastián, Moca, Aguadilla, and Aguada, where the river discharges into Aguadilla Bay in the Mona Passage on the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico.  The Caño Madre Vieja is an old river outlet that flows across the study area and also discharges to Aguadilla Bay.  Flash flooding is most prevalent from May through December due to steep slopes in the upper basin. Three lives were lost in 2017 during floods that resulted from Hurricane María.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (Corps), proposes to construct two segments of earthen levees (~2 miles), a cutoff channel (~197-ft), drainage structures, interior drainage channels, and three paved road ramps across the levees to reduce flood damages to the southwest portion of Aguadilla and the community of Espinar in Aguada. Refinements to the conceptual design are expected during PED based on results from an updated Hydrology and Hydraulic model.

Changes to the project since the completion of the 2004 report include revisions to the cost-benefit analysis and updates to the project design. Design changes include the use of concrete (instead of metal) culverts, armoring for the cutoff channel, and revisions to the levee side slopes to meet current Corps levee design guidance criteria.  The dimensions of the levees increased when the side slopes went from 2.5:1 in the 2004 plan to 3:1 in the 2015 plan.

There is a historic church, Ermita de Espinar, which was founded in 1516 located in the floodplain.  The levee has been designed to avoid impacts to this historic property.  A programmatic agreement with the State Historic Preservation Officer has been executed.   

Construction will directly affect 10.25 acres of mostly degraded wetlands within the levee right-of-way (formerly Coloso sugar cane fields). A conceptual mitigation plan provides for 11-12 acres of created wetlands to compensate for this impact.


  • Aug/Sep 2020 - Chief's Report
  • 2021 - Design start
  • 2022 (Approximately two years after Chief's Report) - Final Design
  • TBD - Construction: Funding for the project is 100% federal and is subject to the availability of funds.