Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


EPA and Government of Puerto Rico Implement Stewardship Program

Release Date: 02/26/2004
Contact Information:
(#04029) San Juan, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny joined
    • Esteban Mujica, chair of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB)
    • Dr. Johnny Rullan, Secretary of Health
    • Juan Agosto Alicea, President of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA),
for the signing of an agreement to improve water quality and enhance protection of public health in Puerto Rico. The agreement, memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding, provides a framework for developing and implementing water quality management plans for priority watersheds as part of PRASA's new Watershed Stewardship Project. Funding for the projects will come in part from a number of expected settlements of complaints that EPA has against PRASA. These settlements are not yet final.

"This agreement gives will allow EPA to use some of the penalties that PRASA is facing for past violations to help fund critically needed watershed protection programs," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "Implementing programs to protect the water resources of Puerto Rico protects public health and improves the environment."

All four agencies agreed that the first and second priority watersheds in Puerto Rico are Lake Loiza and Lake La Plata respectively because they provide drinking water to a large number of people and they receive wastewater from sewage treatment plants. The agencies will establish an executive and a technical committee to recommend policy choices, monitor progress under the MOU and recommend other watersheds for consideration.

PRASA will work with all those involved in watershed protection in the lake communities to develop and implement water quality management plans. In addition, PRASA will perform studies of the rivers and streams in the watersheds. It will provide the technical information that EQB will use to establish pollution "budgets," known as total maximum daily loads, for these water bodies. A total maximum daily load is the amount of a pollutant that a waterway can receive and still meet water quality limits.

PRASA's watershed stewardship program will improve the quality of drinking water by ensuring effluent from wastewater or drinking water plants is properly treated. It will also help Puerto Rico Department of Health to implement programs to protect water that is a source of drinking water. Such programs could include eliminating malfunctioning septic tanks. EPA and the government of Puerto Rico will gather existing water quality information, identify the problems in the watersheds and PRASA will take actions to maintain or restore full uses of the watershed.

PRASA will report progress quarterly to the executive and technical committees. It will consult with EQB, EPA and PRDOH to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the three regulatory agencies. PRASA will also continually update its list of potential stewardship projects. This information will include estimated budgets. Projects that are not otherwise required to comply with the Clean Water Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act will be carried out as Supplemental Environmental Projects, which are environmentally beneficial projects that are part of settlements.