US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

San Juan Metro (Back Bay) Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

Damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
Damage sustained from storms and hurricanes
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This study was first scoped to look at the San Juan coastline, and did not include a back bay flooding focus.  However, as a result of the community feedback during the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) Scoping meeting which took place in San Juan on Nov 8, the  scope of this project has been revised to address coastal induced back bay flooding in the San Juan area and adjacent municipalities.  The San Juan coastline will now be addressed in the Puerto Rico Coastal Study, which is a separate study and on a similar timeline to this study.

The purpose of this study is to determine Federal interest in a recommended plan to reduce damages to infrastructure as a result of flooding from coastal storms and hurricanes along the back bay areas in the municipality of San Juan and adjacent municipality communities.  This study assumes that municipal storm drainage is a local responsibility.  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 NEPA. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Environmental Resources (DNER) is the non-Federal sponsor for this study.

During coastal storms, physical conditions such as storm surge, tidal influences, and wave contributions cause extreme flooding from lagoons and back bay areas.  This results in damages to critical infrastructure, residential and commercial structures; negative environmental and social effects; losses to the regional and national economy; and lack of resilience for affected communities.

The study area has approximately 35,000 structures, including critical infrastructure (roads, hospitals, utilities, etc.) with a combined estimated value of approximately $13 billion. Flooded conditions cause major damages to these structures. Additionally, the flooded conditions are hazardous to the community (bringing disease and mold for extended periods), pollute the lagoon with automobile fluids, corrode the underside of vehicles, affect economic development of stores, hotels and restaurants, and decrease property values.

Authority for the San Juan Metro coastal storm risk management (CSRM) study is granted under Section 204 of the Flood Control Act of 1970, Public Law 91-611.  Study funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 Public Law 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 congressional authorization and 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 and roads.
  • Hard Structural management measures include: seawalls/bulkheads, levees, storm surge barrier, pump system, nearshore breakwater, flapgate on existing drainage structures
  • Soft Structural management measures (Natural and Nature Based Features (NNBF)) include: Living shoreline (with mangroves)

Colorful blocks with estimated study schedule

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

Contact Information

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