Bill Sponsor: United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Citizens living in the Parcelas Suárez sector of the town of Loíza are greatly concerned about the rampant coastal erosion occurring in their town. Since 2012 they have been fighting for the USACE and the Department of Natural Resources to take action. The Section 14 Emergency Streambank Protection Project in Loíza has been funded since 2018 with construction said to begin January 2020, 4 months after the initial starting date. The project has allocated $5,170 to build a streambank along 1,050 feet of the coast, surrounding a public school, a community center, and a park, leaving houses of more than 50 people vulnerable to the receding shoreline.
Relevance to PR:
The exclusion of 15 homes from the project endangers the lives of more than 50 civilians, most of which live below the poverty line. The analysis done by the USACE prioritizes returns on economic investment based on the value of the infrastructure and not on the demographic characteristics of the population vulnerable to coastal erosion.
A public meeting occurred on July 16, but because of the lack of outreach and communication with the residents , only 16 members of the community participated, while there are approximately 1,560 residents in the Parcelas Suárez. Experts requested that the USACE consider how the breaker wall might cause diversion of water into neighboring communities but this analysis was not done. This fast and inappropriate consultation process did not allow time to evaluate other construction options and the plan failed to include a scale model that illustrates what the project would look like so people could better understand it. A draft of the Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment 2019 is available for public comments until August 14th of this year. The project will then move forward to the US Congress for the allocation of funds.
Contact the USACE demanding a study of how the proposed streambank will displace the water and if it will affect neighboring communities.
Comments should be submitted by email to Sheila.E.Hint@usace.army.mil
Or sent through mail to:
Sheila E. Hint, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, Fl 32232-0019