Friday, December 3, 2010

Light contamination/ Works at the Malaria Canal/ Novel water toxicity test/ Guided tours

Pictures: Light contamination from the Presbyterian Ashford Medical Hospital; new logo of the PR Watershed Partnership; graduate students from the University of Puerto Rico during a boat tour through the ecosystem; school students visiting the Pedro Antonio Gelabert Estuarine Library.

Our weekly update for November 28, 2010 to December 4, 2010 is as follow:

1) Making the case for light contamination: Javier Laureano identified an extreme case of light contamination at the employee’s parking lot of the Presbyterian Ashford Medical Hospital on Washington Street in the Condado in San Juan, right in front of the Atlantic Ocean. According to employees of the Hospital, the lights were placed as crime prevention, due to a local myth that links excessive light with security. This particular zone is known as a spawning zone for leatherback turtles, an endangered species guided by lunar cycles and highly affected by this kind of pollution. The Presbyterian Hospital promised to at least change the direction of the lamps that are illuminating the ocean and the sand. Attached please find some pictures.

2) New logo and first meeting set for the Puerto Rico Watershed Partnership: The first meeting of this initiative, coordinated by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, will take place at the Sea Grant Program of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, on January 13, 2011, from 1:00pm to 3:30pm. Attached please find the new logo.

3) Guided tour to graduate students: Javier Laureano offered a guided boat tour to graduate students with professor Carmen Concepción, from the Graduate School of Urban Planning of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, on Wednesday, December 1, 2011. The course explores the interaction between ecology and urban planning.

4) DNER enhances habitat of the Malaria Canal: Dr. Jorge Bauzá reported that our partner, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, is performing key maintenance work at the Malaria Canal through the mechanical removal of nuisance aquatic vegetation and floating debris. The agency is also upgrading the pump stations that control the hydrologic level of the Cucharillas Wetland.

5) SJBEP joined Administrator Jackson in the celebrations of EPA’s 40th Anniversary: On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, Administrator Jackson traveled to New York, where she held an event with students from the New York Harbor School, who shared their environmental work with the administrator and employees from EPA’s regional office, including the New York/ New Jersey National Estuary Program. Thanks to the invitation of Carl Soderberg, the staff of the SJBEP joined this special occasion through teleconference and was able to communicate with the administrator and the students.

6) University of Puerto Rico’s High School field trip through the Estuary: Eighty-five students took a field trip to the site where the Río Piedras begins, and followed the river’s course through the city, visiting areas adjacent to the Martín Peña Channel and the San Juan Central Park. The field trip was aimed at educating the students on the impacts of an unplanned city on this particular river. To finish the field trip, the group visited Corporación Piñones se Integra, and received information about the Piñones area. Other activities for the students – coordinated by Gladys Rivera, our Outreach Coordinator - included a kayak visit to Torrecillas Lagoon and a bicycle ride following the Piñones coastal zone.

7) Water Quality Monitoring Program: New watershed sites were sampled as part of the water quality monitoring program. These stations are crucial for identifying the sources of watershed pollution in the San Juan Bay Estuary system. Past data reveals that the main focus of contamination entering the estuary can be linked to non-point sources in the watershed. These observations will be the basis for the future development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for fecal coliforms, oil & grease, and nutrients.

8) Novel water toxicity test used in the San Juan Bay Estuary: Dr. Jorge Bauzá, Scientific Advisor of the SJBEP, is working in collaboration with Dr. Carlos Rodriguez from the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico on the implementation of a novel toxicity test based on bacterial responses to water contaminants. This method provides a fast, efficient, and cost-effective alternative for measure water toxicity, in relation to conventional bioassay techniques. The first sampling event was conducted with the participation of graduate students last Thursday. The SJBE is providing technical support, field instrumentation, logistical support, and a general sampling platform. The goal of the initiative is to incorporate this toxicity test as one of the environmental indicators for the SJBE.

9) Condado Lagoon Restoration’s RFP has a New Proposal Evaluator: Mark Reiss from the USEPA (DEPP/CWRB), New York offices, will provide assistance in evaluating the proposals submitted for benthic and seagrass restoration in the Condado Lagoon. Mr. Reis is an expert in benthic restoration projects and will be an asset in the selection of the proposal.

10) Puerto Rico Water Monitoring Day 2011: The first meeting of the organization committee was held in the SJBEP; all parties agreed to celebrate 2011 WWMD on Saturday, April 30th. Volunteer recruitment has already begun. The next meeting will be held on January 20th, 2011.

11) Increased number of visitors at our new location: We are glad to announce that since our move to the new office at the Parada 18 of Santurce, we are experiencing an increased volume of visitors and students, that are using the resources of the Pedro Antonio Gelabert Estuarine Library.

IMPORTANT WORKSHOP - Community Vegetable Garden Creation Workshop: The SJBEP and the Huerto, Vivero y Bosque Urbano de Capetillo community group will offer a community vegetable garden creation workshop to our volunteers, stakeholders, and community leaders. The activity will take place on December 18, 2010, from 8:30am to 5:00pm. To join this marvelous community-based experience, please contact Gladys Rivera at:

Save the Date - EPA’s 40th Anniversary!! December 10th, 2010: The event will take place at the Inter American University on December 10, 2010, from 8:00am to 5:30pm. Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator, will highlight EPA’s priorities for the island. For reservations please call Mrs. Brenda Reyes at 787-977-5869


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