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Date: November 29, 2011
Contact: Dilcia Gonzalez, 787-729-6777 ext 239

A brief inauguration ceremony to open the historical water cisterns beneath the plazas of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal will take place in Castillo San Cristóbal on Friday, December 2 at 9:30am.

Restoration has been completed by San Juan National Historic Site staff of the three cisterns in El Morro, with a capacity of nearly a quarter of a million water gallons, and four cisterns in San Cristóbal, with a capacity of more than half a million gallons, which will now be in use by providing non-potable water to the fortifications.The water, harvested from an intricate Spanish designed rain drainage and storage system throughout the fortifications, will now be pumped out of the cisterns.The water is to be used in rest rooms, maintenance facilities and other non-potable applications.Next year the Park plans to complete additional work to provide potable water to all of its facilities, allowing the site to achieve the levels of water conservation practiced in the past.

Rain water harvested in the cisterns was crucial to the survival of the Spanish when building the cisterns in the mid 1700s.The significance of the cisterns was such that religious images were painted on the walls for the protection of their water.U.S. Army personnel, taking over the fortifications after the Spanish-American War of 1898, closed the cisterns believing the water had been poisoned by the defeated Spanish soldiers. Since 1949, when San Juan National Historic Site was established, the cisterns remained unused until the present, with the exception of one in San Cristóbal. Capturing and using harvested rainwater will enable the Park to become more efficient, save money and reduce dependency on municipal water systems.

San Juan National Historic Site is proudly meeting its stewardship responsibilities of protecting, conserving and preserving our cultural and natural resources through environmentally-friendly leadership and sustainability practices.The completion of this extraordinary sustainability Park project evidences that historic structures can be sustainable by simply reusing what already exist, allowing the Park to make a difference.

For additional information, you may call 787-729-6777 or visit

San Juan National Historic Site is comprised of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, Fort San Juan de La Cruz (El Cañuelo), the San Juan Gate, Paseo del Morro and most of the City Wall.The fortifications are open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on Tuesdays when the LeLoLai festival program is held in the San Cristóbal main plaza from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm.The fortifications will be closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year's Day (January 1).Admission to San Juan NHS is $3.00 per fort for adults and free for ages 15 and under.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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501 Norzagaray Street
San Juan, PR 00901


(787) 729-6777

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