In the best-case scenario, Ocean Park communities in San Juan and Rincón would have to wait until 2029 to see what actions the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is proposing to reduce erosion risk in both areas. . Eh. According to the updated estimate that the federal agency itself offered this week.
That’s a wide window of time, according to experts consulted Thursday by El Nuevo Día, neither Ocean Park nor Rincon – or any other coastal community on the island – is, so urgent action is needed, while the USACE graduates. Long term solution. He added that As far as possible, these immediate actions should be nature-based, so that the geomorphological conditions of the beaches are not affected.
Maritza Barret for Geological Oceanographer and Coastal Erosion SpecialistOr, “the first thing to do” is for communities, municipalities and agencies to “integrate in an integrated way” and identify affected areas and opportunities to obtain mitigation funds.
Second, it gave a . recommended the construction of “Erosion Protocol”Which goes beyond the current emergency permit process before the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER). “It must be integrated, interdisciplinary and well thought out”he claimed.
As a third action, he suggested the use of natural infrastructure to reduce the risk of erosion, such as the establishment of reefs and the restoration of mangroves, and not to allow new construction on the coast, while being on medium and long term solutions. The work is in progress.
“If we (USACE) continue to mismanage the coastal lands when the project arrives, the landscape is about to change,” warned Barreto, who directs Puerto Rico’s Institute of Coastal Planning and Research.
Marine scientist Ernesto Díaz spoke in similar terms, confirming that Ocean Park and Rincón “don’t have seven years” to review USACE proposals.
“The Corps of Engineers is not responding to emergencies with the urgency those affected need. To deal with emergencies, Corps of Engineers is not the best option. But for a large-scale solution, regionally and with up to 50 years of maintenance guarantee, it is a very good intervention.Diaz, who is the scientific coordinator of the Climate Change Council of Puerto Rico and directs DNER’s coastal zone management program.
on DNARecall that the agency administers Regulation 4860 of 1992, which allows owners of properties affected by erosion to “consider urgent attention” and file requests for action, which vary from case to case. other. East.
At public meetings hosted by USACE this week, three works for Ocean Park and four for Rincon were presented, 20 of which were analyzed. However, federal agency staff clarified that these were preliminary proposals, that no decision has yet been made and that the report and study will be available for public review and investigation in January 2023.
three proposals for marine park They are walls, not a combination of walls and acting with the return of sand beaches or dunes. Meanwhile, Rincon has four proposals for stone revetment, restoring sand beaches and dunes with breakwaters, acquiring the first row of structures on the coast, and not acting.
Diaz pointed out that, in the case of Ocean Park, USACE eliminated reef facilities, an option that was included in the first draft plan presented to communities in November 2020. “We are concerned that they are now offering walls. The recommendation is to reintroduce the creation of submerged artificial reefs and feeder beaches to address the problem of flooding, erosion and direct wave impact. Told.
According to USACE, work is expected to be completed in 2029 and construction will begin in 2024, subject to funding approval by Congress. 65% of the fund will be federal and the DNER will provide the remaining 35%.