News Releases

Department of Defense agencies join forces to repair Guajataca Dam

Published Oct. 4, 2017

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - At the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and in support of the Government of Puerto Rico, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Defense, and the Puerto Rico Energy and Power Authority (PREPA) airlifted the first jersey barriers Monday, to slow the erosion of the damaged spillway at the Guajataca Dam.  Keeping the spillway functional is important because so that the water will channel around the dam when the water rises too close to the top of the dam.

The emergency repairs to the dam is an interagency effort to mitigate damages caused by the heavy rains and inflows from Hurricane Maria. This emergency effort will be followed by a temporary and finally permanent fix in the future.   

The 26th Marine Expedition Unit used two CH53, Sikorsky Sea Stallion heavy-lift transport helicopters to lift five-ton concrete jersey barriers into the spillway. The interagency team has placed approximately 60 barriers in the dam’s spillway and will continue to place barriers for the next few days.

Marines attached cables that extended from the barriers to their helicopters to lift barriers and place them at the bottom of the dam. Corps engineers direct a Marine Drop Zone Control Officer on strategic positions at which the CH53 crew should place the barriers.   

The Corps is assisting the response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria by conducting additional assessments of dams around Puerto Rico in an effort to reduce the risks to downstream communities.  The USACE Dam Safety subject matter experts have inspected 11 of 15 priority dams in Puerto Rico with no other significant concerns.

The Guajataca Dam, which is located between the municipalities of San Sebastián, Quebradillas, and Isabela, belongs to the PREPA and provides flood-risk management and water supply to more than 350,000 residents of Puerto Rico. The Corps is assisting by conducting additional assessments of dams around Puerto Rico in efforts to reduce the risks to downstream communities.

The federal disaster relief mission in Puerto Rico continues to operate in a challenging environment. Hurricane Maria damaged Puerto Rico’s ports, airfields, roads, bridges, electric grid and communications networks.

Lisa Hunter, Public Affairs Officer
(251) 504-3581

Release no. 17-050