One of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s (PRASA) main priorities is the reconstruction and improvement of Puerto Rico’s critical water infrastructure.
PRASA’s Fiscal Plan, the roadmap to improve and secure Puerto Rico’s water supply, provides a blueprint for PRASA to achieve sustainability and outlines the foundation for a comprehensive capital improvement program.
One of the most important projects is the new Central Laboratory in Caguas, which by now is about 85% completed. The original facility dates back to 1996 and served as Puerto Rico’s main analytical facility for testing samples for both potable and wastewater. An estimated 100,000 samples from around the island were tested annually on site to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.
Lab technicians and scientists test the sample on a wide set of parameters such as color, turbidity, different kinds of solids, and the presence of chemicals such as zinc, lead and copper, among others. If an anomaly is found, the result is verified and then the plant from which the sample was taken is advised on the necessary adjustments.
Since Hurricane Maria severely damaged the central laboratory, the staff had to do their important testing work in temporary trailers, some of which were then damaged by Hurricane Fiona. Subsequently, PRASA had to outsource some of the sample testing.
The project is expected to be completed by early fiscal year 2024. Construction began in March 2021. The $30 million project and equipment worth nearly $8 million will be funded by FEMA. PRASA is also planning a solar energy project for the new Central Laboratory as part of the ongoing efforts to increase the use of renewable energy.
During a recent visit to the construction site, the Oversight Board’s infrastructure team saw where the various chemical and microbiology laboratories would be set up. PRASA Executive President Doriel Pagán said the new laboratory could test between 100,000 and 120,000 samples of potable and wastewater every year. Which in turn would help PRASA maximize the use of its internal resources and drive cost savings through the potential reduction outsourced sample testing.
Once completed, PRASA’s new Central Laboratory will be another positive step forward in PRASA’s transformation and improving water services to the people of Puerto Rico.