PuertoRicoWOW News Service
By Proviana Colon Diaz
September 6, 2000
ARECIBO Following several construction and other problems, which caused a one-year delay, the much-anticipated Superaqueduct was finally inaugurated Tuesday.
The $345 million main pipeline is currently producing 42 million gallons of water daily, which are being funneled to several areas of San Juan, Caguas and Carolina. In six weeks, six interconnections costing an additional $240 million will have opened.
This will lead the "supertubo" to distribute up to 75 million gallons of water daily to 15 municipalities along the northern coast of the island, including Arecibo. Once the project is fully operational, some 1.6 million people will directly benefit from the Superaqueduct, Gov. Pedro Rossello said.
However, Rossello noted that the number of those who will enjoy better water service is much larger if three municipalities that are not directly tied to the system are counted. Bayamon, Guaynabo and Trujillo Alto will no longer have to give up part of their water to provide service to the 15 municipalities hooked up to the Superaqueduct.
With the inauguration of the Superaqueduct, Rossello said he is considering lifting the "state of emergency" under which he placed the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA) in 1994.
Still, he noted that if the state of emergency is lifted this would not be only because of the Superaqueduct, but also because of improvements made to the Carraizo and Cerrillos reservoirs, including the dredging of Lake Carraizo.
"I think there have been extraordinary improvements to the system that already have been felt by the Puerto Rican families. I will ask the Infrastructure Financing Authority [AFI for its Spanish initials] for information to see if the state of emergency can be lifted," Rossello said.
A consortium formed by British construction company Thames Dick Superaqueduct and the Puerto Rico Water Co. will administer the pipeline.
A five-year $12.6 million annual contract has been awarded for administrating the project and its interconnections. At the end of that period, the contract can either be renewed or passed to the government of Puerto Rico, ASA Superaqueduct Project Manager Anibal Camacho said.
Camacho was unable to give an exact figure on the amount of money it will cost to fix the ruptures that have occurred in the system, but said it could be around the $10 million to $11 million mark. That amount, which is not included in any contract, will be paid by the project's insurance policies, Camacho said.
Former AFI Executive Director Carlos Pesquera, who was present and participated in the afternoon ceremony, lauded Camacho's work and ability to go beyond party lines and continue working towards completing the project..
Pesquera, who is the current gubernatorial candidate for the New Progressive Party (NPP), has been recognized as one of the key players in implementing the Superaqueduct project.