Saturday, May 28

Puerto Rico will receive $163 million to restore the Caño Martín Peña as part of funds from the Infrastructure Law

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer visited Caño Martín Peña last year.

Photo: Office of Senator Chuck Schumer/Courtesy

The Martín Peña Channel in Puerto Rico will receive $163 million to begin its restoration, after pressure from the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer (New York), and the representative Nydia Velázquez (New York).

The Army Corps of Engineers selected the Caño Martín Peña Ecosystem Restoration Project, following a request from Schumer and Velázquez last week.

“For years, the (Donald) Trump administration callously ignored our calls to fund construction on the Caño, despite constant pleas from our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico asking us to restore the area,” Schumer said. “We are proud to announce that this historic funding is finally coming to help revitalize the Caño“.

Velázquez stressed that the project will help fight against social and environmental inequities for the inhabitants of the Caño, for which he thanked the President’s government Joe Biden.

“I thank the Biden Administration for keeping its promises to the Island,” he said. “I will continue to closely monitor the disbursement of this financing and I will ensure that action is taken as soon as possible, the residents of Caño do not have to wait another day for the environmental justice they deserve.”

The area is populated by people in social and economic inequality, due to urban migration in the 1950s, which forced these people to live in the mangroves of the Martín Peña canal. It is estimated that some 26,000 people live around the canal, which is severely polluted., due to untreated human waste.

The contamination problem also affects stormwater management at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in addition to contributing to flooding.

“This is a triumph for community work. It has not been easy, but we persevered,” said Lucy Cruz, president of the G-8, the organization of groups of community leaders that represent the eight communities that border the Caño Martin Peña.

Mario Núñez Mercado, executive director of the ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña Project Corporation, highlighted the joint work of community organizations and the government.

The funds will help clean up debris and clear the channel 10 feet deep and 100 feet wide, but federal resources are not enough, as $250 million dollars required, for which $88 million will be provided by the ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña Project Corporation.

Senator Schumer visited the area last year, where he testified to the problem and the need for funds for its rescue.

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