Friday, January 21, 2011

Meeting with senator Arango; 1st meeting of the PR Watershed Partnership; Data to predict pollution impacts in the SJ Bay; Dredging report

Pictures: Dolphins, great companions in our monthly monitoring trip at the San Juan Bay; Unilever-Puerto Rico employees volunteering for our mangrove restoration project; Contractor cleans stormwater sewage in Santurce after an educational approach by the SJBEP.

Our weekly update for January 11 to January 21, 2011, is as follows:

1) Kick-off meeting for the restoration of the Condado Lagoon: Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Javier Laureano met with contractor Fernando Pagés Rangel on January 12, 2011, in a kick-off meeting to review the final expected outputs of the contract and establish deadlines. The studies and the alternative designs of the restoration project will be submitted by September 30, 2011.

2) Informative meeting with senator Roberto Arango; Restoration of the Condado Lagoon on top of the list: Javier Laureano and Dr. Jorge Bauzá met with senator Roberto Arango on January 18, 2011, to inform him about the importance of the San Juan Bay Estuary to the Metropolitan Area and to Puerto Rico, as well as the relevance of the implementation of our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and to present to him, in this context, the restoration of the bottom of the Condado Lagoon - currently our organization’s main restoration project. The senator was very enthusiastic about the Condado Lagoon restoration project, and recollected his participation in our Red Mangrove planting campaigns.

3) Saving White and Black Mangrove trees: In an innovative habitat enhancement event, over 1,300 endangered, germinated seedlings from mangrove trees of the Piñones State Forest were replanted in the Cucharillas Wetland. Employees of Unilever-Puerto Rico, along with company associates from the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago, collected germinated seedlings from a marsh in the Piñones State Forest in pots and transplanted them in the Corredor del Yaguazo’s nursery in Cataño. When the trees have grown enough, employees from Unilever-Puerto Rico will plant them in strategically selected sites of the Cucharillas Marsh. We want to thank our Citizen Advisory Committee’s President, Gretchen Guzmán, for her collaboration in the planting event, and Herminio Díaz, Biologist of Piñones State Forest. Outreach Coordinator Gladys Rivera is coordinating this initiative.

4) Successful first meeting of the Puerto Rico Watershed Partnership: The Partnership had its first meeting on January 13, 2011, in Sea Grant’s offices, at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus. Representatives from the Guánica Bay/Río Loco Watershed Project, Sea Grant, Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JOBANNER), the San Juan Bay Estuary Program and EPA’s Watershed Stewardship Initiative, NOAA, and USDA’s NRCS participated in the meeting. On this first such occasion, representatives offered brief presentations of their watersheds’ main challenges, programs, funding, and administrative structures. A second meeting will take place at the end of March at JOBANERR.

5) Light contamination control pilot project: Javier Laureano met with the administrators and executives of the Ashford Presbyterian Hospital to present the concerns of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program regarding the severe light contamination their institution is currently producing towards the Atlantic Ocean and the sandy shore of the Condado Beach, a spawning area of the Leatherback Turtle, a species in danger of extinction. The Hospital’s representatives were very friendly and cooperative and understood the problem. As a result, the Ashford Presbyterian Hospital will be the first known private building to begin a light contamination control project in the coastal Metropolitan Area of the Island. This is a very important first step for the conservation of sea turtles in the Metro area, and is the first light contamination project of our organization. The pilot project in the area is part of larger efforts to restore the Condado Lagoon.

6) Data collected to predict spill and pollution impacts in the San Juan Bay: The SJBEP provided support to the Caribbean Regional Association for Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing (CaRAS) and the NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOSS) in a study conducted to measure currents’ velocities and directions in the San Juan Bay. The method consisted of the deployment of an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) and drifters in nine (9) stations within the San Juan Bay. The data collected will be useful for predicting spill and pollution impact sites within the San Juan Bay, and to establish corresponding pro-active response actions. Furthermore, the data is crucial to evaluating and validating the water quality and hydrodynamics model of the SJBE, particularly regarding the environmental response to the restoration dredging of the Martín Peña Channel. Dr. Jorge Bauza is a regional member of the CaRAS/IOOS technical and planning committee.

7) Another step further in the process of establishing a set of environmental indicators: A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for the “Assessment of Sediments and Fish Tissue Contaminants” study was submitted to EPA on January 20, 2011. All recommendations made to the QAPP by Carol Lynn, USEPA-QAPP reviewer, were addressed, and Dr. Jorge Bauzá and contractor Dr. Ernesto Otero submitted the document for final approval.

8) Update of SJBE Watershed Land-Use Map in process: Dr. Raúl Matos, director of the Geomatic Sciences Department, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, is working with Dr. Jorge Bauzá in the development of an updated land-use map for the SJBE watershed. Aerial photos collected by the Puerto Rico Planning Board in 2010 were solicited by the aforementioned agency for the creation of the new land-use map.

9) Water quality monitoring data from the SJBEP is the “best available information” for proceeding with studies of the Martín Peña Channel, says independent report: Dr. Jorge Bauzá provided a technical review of the aforementioned report and submitted comments and recommendations to Proyecto Enlace del Caño Martín Peña. The report submitted by PBS&J is entitled “Technical Memorandum Task 2.6 Water and Sediments Quality Studies for the Martín Peña Channel Ecosystem Restoration Project.” It summarizes and analyzes existing water and sediment quality data sets from different sources in order to identify available studies that may provide relevant information for the restoration dredging of the Caño Martín Peña.

The report concluded that the water quality data collected by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program since 2008 represents the best available information for comparing and contrasting water quality within the various portions of the San Juan Bay estuary, including the Martín Peña Channel and the San José Lagoon.

10) Contractor cleans stormwater sewage after an educational approach by the SJBEP: Flooding in the Metropolitan Area and the contamination of our beaches and bodies of water is caused to a great extent by sediment and pollutants flushed into the stormwater sewage infrastructure by contractors, residents, and rain events. Javier Laureano had an educational conversation with a contractor who was flushing cement into the stormwater system of San Jorge Street while completing a construction project at the San Jorge Catholic Church and School. The talk was compelling enough to cause the contractor to clean the sidewalk and the stormwater drain system in the street within 24 hours. Attached please find the photos.

11) Dolphins great companions in monitoring trip: Six dolphins accompanied Ernesto Olivares, our Monitoring Coordinator, in his monthly monitoring boat trip in the San Juan Bay. Other stations monitored include those at the Cucharillas wetland, Piñones, Juan Méndez Creek, and Torrecilla. Attached please find a picture sent to us by Olivares.


CLEANUP AND PLANTING TOMORROW: Cleanup and planting event at Isla de Cabras National Park – 9:00am. Meeting place: Isla de Cabra entrance.

ESTUARY OPEN AIR CINEMA TOMORROW: We will present the movie “Juno” at the Jaime Benítez Condado Lagoon Park at 7:00pm. Limited free parking, early birds get better options. Trailer:

FEBRUARY 13-18: ASLO Meeting, “Limnology and Oceanography in a Changing World” at the Convention Center in San Juan:

APRIL 30, 2011: PUERTO RICO WATER QUALITY MONITORING DAY- more information to come.

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