Algarrobo Aqueduct in Aibonito, PR.
Since our last report, the initiatives to strengthen the community aqueducts have achieved significant progress. The community aqueducts are the only source of drinking water for hundreds of vulnerable communities on the island, and their challenges increased after Hurricane María, the earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support the operations of these community structures during the Covid-19 emergency, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico (FCPR) awarded 13 grants to same number of aqueducts. The greatest need of these community organizations was personal protection equipment and products to chlorinate the water. From those, seven received grants from FCPR for the first time, and are in remote communities in the towns of Yabucoa, Orocovis, Barranquitas, San Lorenzo, and Caguas.
The thirteen grantees are: Acueducto Comunitario Algarrobo, Acueducto Rural Comunidades Especiales Bayamoncito, Inc., Cuyon Water Services, Inc., Asoc. De Vecinos del Sector Los Oquendo Bo. Hato Arriba de San Lorenzo, Inc., Acueducto Pellejas, Inc., Acueducto Saltos Pellejas, Inc., Acueducto Sector Pachín, Inc., Comunidad Limones, Inc., Acueducto Comunidad Tortuguero La Tiza, Inc., Acueducto Rural El Manantial, Inc., Comunidad Corujas, Inc., Acueductos Barrio Guayabota Yabucoa, Inc., and Asociación Residentes de Villas de Oro, Inc.
On the other hand, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico received a grant of $1.7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to execute the first phase of a mitigation project, focus on strengthening or incorporate solar infrastructure in the 242 community aqueducts of the island in order to avoid the interruption of these systems that provide water to thousands of families -the total amount granted to this project was $25 million. This first phase should end in May 2021. It includes recruitment, execution plan, feasibility analysis, and environmental impact. Besides, the FCPR was also awarded with a grant of $150,000 from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) to strengthen five or seven community aqueducts in the South part of Puerto Rico, affected by the earthquakes of 2020. This project should benefit 500 residents. In this zone, there are 31 community aqueducts.
All these initiatives are part of Agua Pa’Nosotros, a program of the FCPR started in 2017 to strengthen the community aqueducts of the island. It has counted with the generous support of the organizations above and Oxfam, Hispanic Federation, and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Nevertheless, to continue strengthening these community structures is indispensable to facilitate more support for infrastructure issues, compliance, community organizations, and management.