US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

Puerto Rico Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Coastal damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
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The purpose of this study is to determine Federal interest in a recommended plan to reduce damages to infrastructure as a result of erosion, wave attack, and flooding from coastal storms and hurricanes along specific areas of the Puerto Rico coastline. The study team will produce a draft and final report, which will be available for public review and comment.  The report will consider all engineering alternatives and their effects, under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

This study will assess the shoreline problems and provide possible Coastal Storm Risk Management alternatives to reduce risk to infrastructure located along approximately 15 miles of coastline of Puerto Rico island-wide. The study originally considered 12 locations identified by Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to have potential for a feasibility study. These areas are located in San Juan, Vega Baja, Arecibo, Aguadilla, Aguada, Rincón, Anasco, Mayaguez, Cabo Rojo, Loiza, Luquillo, and Humacao.

Narrowing of the study areas began with assessing areas of high density of infrastructure at risk from coastal storms which would be an indicator of high potential benefits under a Federal project.  As a result of this preliminary screening, the Puerto Rico Coastal study will focus on parts of the San Juan coastline and the Rincón coastline.  The San Juan coastline encompasses approximately 8 miles of shoreline from El Boqueron to Boca de Cangrejos and the Rincón coastline from Punta Ensenada to just south of Stella (approximately 2.5 miles). In addition, the team will consider low cost alternatives that can be used to protect a segment of the major hurricane/tsunami evacuation routes in Mayaguez (PR-102) and Humacao (Hwy 3).  The focus areas of study are shown below.

5 different Images of Puerto Rico Coastal Study Area, 1 of Puerto Rico with four areas highlighted and four separate images of those areas: Rincon, Mayaguez, San Juan Coast line and Humacao. Text under the images, Rincon and San Juan Coastline, Tier 1: Alternatives formulation requires extensive modeling. Mayaguez and Humacao, Tier 2: Low cost alternatives without requiring modeling

 

Hurricane and coastal storm damages including inundation, erosion, and wave attack along the San Juan and Rincón coastlines threaten infrastructure and beach access for recreation and contribute to public safety hazards. Infrastructure is located along large portions of the study area, including commercial businesses, hotels, condominiums, residential homes, roads, public parkland, and public beach access points. Loss of protective beaches and dunes due to shoreline recession threatens infrastructure. Homeowners and hotels seeking to protect their property have constructed some shore protection measures, such as seawalls, large stone revetments and gabions. Some of the structures and materials used are inadequate to provide significant protection and are often constructed in an uncoordinated fashion without regard to system-wide coastal processes, exacerbating erosion on adjacent shorelines

Section 204 of the Flood Control Act of 1970, Public Law 91-611 granted authority for the Puerto Rico coastal storm risk management (CSRM) study. Study funds were appropriated under Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 115-123. Corps feasibility studies under this authorization are by law required to be completed in 3 years and with $3M or less, unless waivers are requested and approved.  The study schedule and milestones are shown below.  The study will examine alternative solutions, and will recommend one plan that meets Corps criteria to be the Tentatively Selected Plan.  If the alternative is supported by Corps decisions makers, it will receive an approved Chief’s Report recommending it for construction.  The plan will then need to receive appropriations for construction.

Solutions could be comprised of, but are not limited to, a combination of one or more features or measures:

  • Non-structural management measures include: no-action, acquisition of land and structures, relocation of structures, flood proofing of structures and elevation of structures.
  • Hard Structural management measures include: breakwaters/reef, revetment, groins, and seawall.
  • Soft Structural management measures include (note that beaches and dunes are natural and nature-based features): beach/dune nourishment, geotubes, perched beaches, and dune core (hard structure buried by sand).

arrows of estimated study scheduled

  • December 2018 - Alternative milestone
  • December 2018 to April 2020 - Plan formulation, engineering and economic modeling
  • April 2020 - Tentatively selected plan milestone
  • June 2020 - Draft report and NEPA - public technical and policy review
  • October 2020 - Agency decision milestone
  • January 2021 - Final report - State and agency overview
  • October 2021 - Chief of Engineers report
  • 2021/2022 - Project engineering and design, construction

Community Meetings

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District hosted an open house meeting for the Puerto Rico Coastal Study on June 18, 2019, at the Ventana Al Mar Convention Center in Rincon, Puerto Rico. The purpose of this meeting was to provide updates referent to the initial scoping process. The public was informed about the criteria used in narrowing of the study areas in order to select focus areas with possible Federal interest. As a result of this preliminary screening, the Puerto Rico Coastal study will focus on parts of the San Juan and Rincon coastlines. The San Juan coastline encompasses approximately 8 miles of shoreline from El Boqueron to Boca de Cangrejos and the Rincon coastline includes approximately 2.5 miles from Punta Ensenada to south of Stella, including Corcega. In addition, the team is considering if there is possible federal interest to protect a segment of the major hurricane/tsunami evacuation routes in Mayaguez (PR-102) and Humacao (Hwy 3). Approximately 100 people attended the open house, with good participation during the public comments hour.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District hosted a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping meeting for the Puerto Rico Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Study Nov. 6, 218 at the El Teatro Manuel Mendez Ballester in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The purpose of the scoping meeting was to present and discuss the production of a NEPA document for the feasibility study, and to assess the effects of potential alternatives to reduce coastal storm damages to infrastructure along the coast of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The scoping meeting aides in determining the scope of the NEPA analysis and any potentially significant issues. The Corps of Engineers welcomes views, questions, comments, concerns and suggestions. The Corps believes this study will benefit significantly from public involvement and encourages participation in the NEPA scoping process.

2018 Bipartisan Budget Act

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received disaster funds provided in Public Law 115-123, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The act provides nearly $17.4 billion to the Corps for disaster recovery.

Jacksonville District received $3.348 billion for long-term recovery investments in its area of responsibility, which includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This funding will go toward 13 studies, and 22 projects that will reduce risk to communities damaged by storm events. The total Federal funding allocation for Jacksonville District recovery efforts so far exceeds $4 billion.

Additional information can be found here