Monday, December 20, 2010

TetraTech contracted for the Condado Lagoon's restoration studies/ Monitoring at Río Piedras/ CAC Meeting/

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.$300000paralalagunadelcondado-839720.html

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.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Protocol to report Caiman sightings/ Communications contractor hired/ EPA Region 2 Administrator visits the SJBEP/ PR Recycling Partnership/

Pictures: a) EPA Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck, visiting the Juana Matos Community Greenhouse, a key component of this community-based wetland restoration initiative. b) Judith Enck examining the Juana Matos community's stormwater system. c) Enck visiting the La Esperanza Peninsula with community leader Rosa Hilda Ramos, a Goldman Award recipient.

Weekly update for December 5, 2010 to December 11, 2010

1) Communications contractor hired: We are pleased to announce that we have contracted Georgina Vega Porrata-Doria as our new communications contractor. Vega Porrata's twelve years of experience managing and creating public-relations and marketing campaigns for local (Puerto Rican) and international markets encompasses media ranging from print and television to special events. Georgina Vega Porrata Doria Public Relations & Marketing, LLP, clients include a diverse group of organizations that includes nonprofit organizations, such as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC/ PR) and Festival Buena Vida, which have all expanded and enriched their business and reputation in Puerto Rico through the effective and influential use of strategic public relations and brand management.

2) SJBEP takes action to improve Barrio Obrero Marina community’s recycling program: The Barrio Obrero Marina (a low-income and inner-city community) recycling program began this year, collecting recyclables on its 14 streets. To date the project has been managed by two women from the community who collect the bulky materials in their own cars. The SJBEP included in its budget the contract of a truck driver who will help in the collection of the materials. The contractor will begin the pick-up process next week, with his own truck.

3) SJBEP coordinates Judith Enck’s visit to Cucharillas Wetland and its community leaders: EPA’s Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck, visited the Cucharillas Wetland with SJBEP personnel who presented several restoration projects and issues of the area to her. Enck met with community leaders Rosa Hilda Ramos, Pedro Carrión, the staff of the SJBEP, and our Citizen Advisory Committee’s President, Gretchen Guzmán, on Wednesday, December 8, 2010.

4) Protocol established to report sightings of Caiman crocodiles: A community meeting for the design of an educational campaign on the Caiman crocodile took place on Wednesday night. The SJBEP, Enlace Project, the DNER, and representatives of the Group of the 8 Communities of the Martín Peña Channel (G-8) met to discuss the actions needed to prevent accidents involving the Caiman crocodile. Important successes were the promise of full support from the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, along with the design of a protocol to report sightings of this dangerous species. A flyer was designed by the group and will be handed out during the community’s Christmas celebration.

5) Bauza Mangrove Restoration Technique (TeReBa) is spreading out: The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources is using, in their mangrove restoration projects, a method known as TeReBA: the mangrove restoration method developed by the Scientific Advisor of the SJBEP, Dr. Jorge Bauzá. TeReBa consists of sowing four red mangrove seedlings, held together with biodegradable tape around a fixed wooden rod. This restoration technique increases the success and growth rate of mangrove seedlings in comparison with others methods. The DNER mangrove planting event using TeReBA was covered by the print media (Primera Hora and Vocero Newspapers).

6) Water Quality Improvement and Seagrass Restoration Project at Condado Lagoon: All proposals regarding this project have been evaluated by the Proposal Evaluation Committee. There will be a meeting to discuss proposals’ evaluations and final selection.

7) EPA’s 40th Anniversary: The event took place at the Inter American University on December 10, 2010, from 8:00am to 5:30pm and was a complete success, with over 500 attendees. Judith Enck highlighted EPA’s priorities for the island. Javier Laureano and Jorge Bauzá offered a presentation as part of a round table on the Martín Peña Channel.

8) Sediment toxicity and water quality monitoring: Students from the UPR’s Public Health School conducted a field sampling trip with the SJBEP to monitor several water-quality parameters (bacteriology and gasoline components) and sediment toxicity (Arsenic and Lead). Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Ernesto Olivares joined Dr. Carlos Rodríguez and his group of graduate students, and offered technical assistance to the initiative.

9) EQB provides new storage space for the SJBEP’s Water Quality Monitoring Program: This week the Environmental Quality Board began providing much needed storage space for our Monitoring Program equipment, as well as access to its lab for instrument calibration. It constitutes an in-kind gift of over $6,000 per year.

10) SJBEP at the Puerto Rico Recycling Partnership (PRRP) meeting: As part of her visit to Puerto Rico, Judith Enck met with the PRRP to discuss the reports of several committees working on composting, market development, and outreach, among others. Javier Laureano presented a public service campaign on recycling that the SJBEP will begin to place on several media outlets beginning next month.

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:

CINE DEL ESTUARIO (Estuary’s Cinema) TOMORROW!- Like every second and fourth Saturday of the month, tomorrow we will be showing a new movie, “The Queen,” for our Cine del Estuario project at the Condado Lagoon Park at 7:00pm This is a free activity for everyone.


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