First picture: Graduate students from the University of Puerto Rico's School of Public Health monitoring sediments. Other pictures: Students from the Inter American University's CECIA environmental organization monitoring the Río Piedras (main urban river if the San Juan Bay Estuary)
Our weekly update for December 12 through December 18, 2010, is as follows:
1. Press Release- Tetra Tech contracted for the first phase of the restoration of the bed of the Condado Lagoon; $300,000 investment: The San Juan Bay Estuary Program announced the contract of Tetra Tech through an investment of $300,000. The firm will design and perform the studies needed to fill the artificial depressions in the Condado Lagoon. This action is key to improving water quality in the Lagoon, as well as the quality of marine life within its estuarine ecosystem. The benthic restoration of the Condado Lagoon and its seagrass beds will take approximately five years and is the main long-term restoration objective of our organization.
2. Team of scientists, planners, and other professionals to draft new CCMP actions: To date we have hired five (5) specialists drawn from several disciplines to draft thirty (30) new actions for the consideration of the Board of Directors of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program. We expect to have the actions drafted by April 30, 2011, in order to have time to discuss them with the community and our stakeholders. New actions involve coastal erosion, climate change, invasive species, and adaptive management, among other topics.
3. Monitoring event from the source to the estuarine end of the Río Piedras: For the first time in the SJBEP, the highest point of the watershed know as Las Curías and the source site of the Río Piedras river (the main fresh-water source of the SJBE) was sampled for water quality. Students from the Center for Education, Conservation, and Environmental Interpretation from the Inter American University joined Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Ernesto Olivares, SJBE monitoring coordinator, in a water sampling event. The students measured water quality parameters and quantified levels of fecal coliforms along the river path to the estuary.
4. Environmental Advisor on radio program: The nonprofit organization known as Prensa Comunitaria (“Community Press”) invited and interviewed Dr. Jorge Bauza on their weekly radio program. Community stewardship in the coastal ecosystem restoration project, urban forest enhancement, and environmental education were some of the topics discussed during the 30-minute transmission.
5. Updated land-use map for the SJBE watershed in progress: A group of engineering students from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, under the supervision of Ms. Marisol Rodriguez, Director of the Department of Land Surveying and Topography, will develop a new land-use map of the SJBE watershed. This updated map will present changes in impervious cover surfaces, mangrove area, new infrastructure, wetland impacts, and coastal activity. The last land-use map developed for the SJBE was completed more than a decade ago.
6. Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting: The CAC met this week at the Capetillo Urban Forest and Vegetable Garden. As part of the meeting, community leaders took a guided tour and were able to interact with Capetillo community representatives. Scholar and planner Carmen M. Concepción participated in the meeting as part of a graduate course she is offering on urban environmental planning.
7. New estuarine ecological literacy campaign in the works: Most of the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed’s constituents are divorced from their urban ecological landscape. As part of a large estuarine ecological literacy project, our organization chose graphic designer Marina Rivón to create three ads related to our watershed’s fish, birds, and trees. The ad campaign will be linked to the creation of comic books with the same theme, as well as TV ads, and a drawing contest. The comic books will be created by children from the communities of the SJBE and we expect to use them as popular education tools.
8. Another riparian restoration project being promoted by a community leader: Damaris Estrada met with Javier Laureano to discuss her interest in joining forces with the San Juan Bay Estuary Program to clean and plant the fringes of a segment of the Juan Méndez creek, located along the back yard of her Victoria Apartments in Capetillo. Estrada has been educating children and preventing littering in the area, currently a place where heavy illegal dumping is taking place. Our organization is sponsoring a special screening function in the community, and will show the SJBEP’s educational short films as well as the documentary “Oceans.” Next week Laureano will visit the community to design with them a plan for restoration activities.
9. New coloring book on coral reef species: Cartoonist and scuba diver Paco López, at the CAC meeting this week, shared that he is currently designing a very special coloring book on the marine species he has identified on the Isla Verde coral reef island, located to the north side of the watershed. The SJBEP will sponsor the printing of the coloring book, which will be ready by the first quarter of 2011.