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Puerto Rico Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

The Puerto Rico Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Study will extensively leverage lessons learned, tools, and processes to ultimately produce a comprehensive and consistent understanding of coastal vulnerability along the entire Commonwealth of Puerto Rico coastline.  Puerto Rico and the four main offshore islands of Culebra, Mona, and Desecheo have a total length of 620 miles of coastline. Most of the Commonwealth’s population of 2.6 million people live within coastal municipalities and the vast majority of critical infrastructure investments such as hospitals, schools, power plants, government buildings, and over 8,000 miles of roads are located near the coast.  A proactive approach is key to potentially minimize or even avoid impacts of both extreme and nuisance events in the future.  The study area has suffered extensive damage from multiple storms, to include hurricanes’ Hugo (1989), Luis (1995), George (1998), Nor’eastern (2008), with the most recent hurricanes’ Irma and Maria (2017) and Nor’eastern (2018).  Hurricanes on average hit Puerto Rico about once every three years and strong Nor’easterns every 10 years. 

In addition to regional analyses of coastal vulnerability, the study strategy will identify initial measures/costs that can address vulnerabilities with emphasis on regional sediment management (RSM) as an actionable strategy to sustainably maintain or enhance current levels of storm protection within existing authorities. The San Juan metro area is part of a separate CSRM study.

The Federal cost for this study is $3 million with a three-year schedule.

NEPA Public Scoping Meeting

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 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 will aid in determining the scope of the NEPA analysis and any potentially significant issues. The NEPA process will also identify alternatives and information needed to evaluate alternatives. Alternatives under consideration for the study include:

1.) No action;

2.) Actions such as shoreline revetment, breakwaters, and sand placement, as well as non-structural measures.

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.

Letters of comment or inquiry should be sent to Mr. Paul DeMarco via paul.m.demarco@usace.army.mil, or be addressed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Planning Division - Environmental Branch, Jacksonville District, 701 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207, by November 16.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

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.