Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rehabilitation of Guachinanga island; Special fund; SJ Ecological Corridor; New intern

Pictures: Guachinanga island is a unique karstic island surrounded by water in the San José Lagoon currently in peril due to sedimentation and aquatic debris.

Our weekly update for February 19 to February 25, 2011, is as follows:

1) Donation of $110,000 for water quality improvement project at the Guachinanga island in the San José Lagoon: The Executive Director of the Company for the Integral Development of the Cantera Peninsula, Dr. María Lourdes Rivera Grajales, yesterday pledged a donation to our organization of $110,000 for the removal of sediment and debris from the Guachinanga island. This is a very special project promoted by Cantera. Less than 2 acres in area, the Guachinanga Island – a beautiful karstic formation surrounded by water in the San José Lagoon – is habitat to some flora species which are unique in the world, known only to some parts of Puerto Rico. This will comprise part of our 2011-2012 matching funds for EPA’s annual grant.

2) Special fund hits new high: We are very pleased to inform you that the San Juan Bay Estuary’s Special Fund now has $83,356.00. We are in the final design phase of the billboard provided as public service in the Condado area to promote contributions from tax returns. The expected funding to be raised during this past first year was $50,000. We thank all donors for supporting the restoration of the San Juan Bay Estuary.

3) Plaza International Mall to adopt stormwater rain gardens and educational initiatives with the San Juan Bay Estuary Program: President Andrés Salas Soler and Executive Director Javier Laureano met with one of the main local investors of Plaza International Mall, Frank J. Trogolo, to discuss several projects that will be implemented as part of the design of the Mall. One key project is the creation of stormwater rain gardens in the parking lots of the commercial center (located just in front of the San José Lagoon), as well as educational exhibits on the San Juan Bay ecosystem.

4) Tracking system update: Our mission is to coordinate and further the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan of the San Juan Bay Estuary. As part of our work to fulfill our mission, Javier Laureano and José Enrique Rodríguez met with Erison Burgos, Acting Director of the Carolina Municipality’s Environmental Branch, to receive information on several actions the Carolina Municipality is taking to implement our CCMP. The information collected from this and other meetings will be published in our online Tracking System and the documents will be filed in our CCMP implementation archive. At the end of 2011 we plan to publish our first CCMP Implementation Report.

5) Heading next week to Washington, DC: Javier Laureano and Jorge Bauzá will attend EPA’s annual National Estuary Program Conference next week. This is the time for representatives from the 28 NEPs to share their goals and achievements with EPA representatives and establish their working objectives for the next Fiscal Year. One key meeting is set with the office of the Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner.

6) Update on the Condado Lagoon water quality improvement and seagrass restoration: Our contractors from TetraTech have been working in full force on the study and design of this key restoration project directed by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program. Drafts of the “Sediment Sampling and Analysis Plan,” as well as the “Health and Safety Plan,” “Health, Safety, and Dive Plan,” and the “Quality Assurance Project Plan” were submitted to our office. Fieldwork to start the bathymetric survey, benthic survey, and sediment sampling will be performed from Feb 25th to March 7th. A meeting with Dr. Jorge Bauzá and key personnel working on the contract from TetraTech took place on February 25, 2011, at the SJBEP’s offices.

7) Another bill to amend San Juan Ecological Corridor’s Law: Community representatives informed our organization about another Senate bill that could affect the physical integrity of the 1,000 acres preserved under the San Juan Ecological Corridor’s Law 206 of August 28, 2003. Senate bill 1788 (PC 1788) intends to re-define the term “river margin” for the bodies of water of the Corridor. This is one of the largest green areas of the San Juan Bay Estuary’s watershed.

8) Water Quality Monitoring: Ernesto Olivares completed this month’s monitoring with the stations at the Eastern axis of the mixing zone, including the San José/Corozos Lagoon, Torrecillas Lagoon, Blasina Canal, and Suárez Canal, as well as the Juan Méndez and San Antón creeks.

9) New graduate intern will be working on a Socio-Economic Profile of the San Juan Bay Estuary’s fishermen: We welcome graduate student Yanitza V. Hernández Santiago to our team. Hernández is currently completing a Masters degree in Environmental Health at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences Campus. She will be working a total of 210 hours in our Water Quality Monitoring Program and on a Socio-Economic Profile of the San Juan Bay Estuary’s fishermen as part of a required internship to complete her degree.

10) Successful “Plants and Trees To Touch Workshop”: On February 24, 2011, we had full attendance in our first workshop. Since 20 people are on a waiting list to take the workshop, we will offer it again. One special attendee was Jorge Carlos Trejo Torres, Project Director at SELVAKARST, the Research Company for the Karstic Forests, based in Yucatán, Mexico. We will be continuing our conversation and communication with Trejo Torres.


February 26, 2011 at 9:00a
m - Planting at the Cucharillas Marsh with our partner Corredor del Yaguazo.

February 26, 2011 at 7:00
pm - Estuary's Cinema at the Jaime Benítez Park

“The Truth About Cats and Dogs”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

ASLO scientist on tech-transfer trips in the SJBE; One of our partners in Africa for manatees rehabilitation; CCMP Revision and Tracking System

Pictures: Jonathan Perez, from the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center (a partner of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program), is serving for two months on the ‘Manatus senegalensis’ rehabilitation project in Gabon, Africa; This week dozens of aquatic scientists took guided technical trips to the ecosystem.

Our weekly update for February 12-February 19, 2011 is as follows:

1) Aquatic scientists from around the world on technical trips to the San Juan Bay Estuary: As part of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Conference in Puerto Rico, dozens of aquatic scientists from around the world took guided technical trips to the eastern axis of the San Juan Bay Estuary. The scientists offered written comments on our restoration efforts and water quality improvement, and shared information on several issues, such as pathogens, sedimentation, erosion, and climate change. The trips were offered by a community-based ecotourism initiative called “Excursiones ECO” (“ECO Tours”), owned by a young woman, Melba Ayala. Ernesto Olivares and Jorge Bauzá coordinated the effort.

2) SJBEP at EPA’s Administrative and Environmental Law and Practice Training: Our coral reef restoration initiative’s video and a continuous Power-Point presentation during coffee breaks were presented during this key conference. EPA Region 2 Office of Regional Counsel, San Juan Office, and the Office of Administrative Law Judges from DC sponsored the conference. Among the participants were the Environmental Quality Board’s President as well as environmental lawyers and judges. We thank Evelyn Huertas and Héctor Vélez for showcasing the work we are doing during such an important occasion.

3) Meeting with ENLACE representatives: As part of our CCMP revision and an update to our Tracking System, Javier Laureano and José Enrique Rodríguez from the SJBEP met with Lyvia Rodríguez and Katia Avilés from ENLACE. This was a very productive meeting, at which ENLACE representatives offered an update of their CCMP implementation process and emphasized the importance of including new public health, economic development, and environmental justice actions in our CCMP revision process. The meeting took place at ENLACE on February 17, 2011.

4) Community scare on the San Juan Ecological Corridor: Community representatives have been calling our office to inform us of a new bill (PS 1919) that, according to the representatives, could dismantle this 1,000-acres nature reserve in the heart of the san Juan Bay Estuary’s watershed. Next week we will be asking our stakeholders for more information about this issue.

5) Meeting with Cantera community representatives: As part of our next year’s Work Plan and Tracking System update, Javier Laureano and José Enrique Rodríguez met with Cantera community representatives to discuss the CCMP actions they have been implementing, as well as the new initiative that will begin during FY 2011. We began a conversation on the dredging of the Guachinanga island channel to improve water quality on the eastern axis of the San José Lagoon, and obtained access to valuable CCMP implementation reports and pictures.

6) Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) contributes to the SJBEP’s CCMP update and Tracking System: Brenda González and José Estrella from SWMA offered key information on their pollution prevention and oil and tire recycling projects within the San Juan Bay Estuary’s watershed. The meeting took place at SWMA on February 16, 2011.

7) Total promotional success for our “Trees and Plants to Touch Workshop”: The first of a new series of workshops offered by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program reached its total capacity on the first day of its announcement. We are completing a waiting list to offer it on an additional date. Our “Trees and Plants to Touch Workshop” will follow a ‘brown bag lunch’ format taking place on February 24, 2011, at our office, from 12:10pm to 12:40pm.

8) PRASA’s Martha Rivera has retired!: Our friend, colleague and member of our Board of Directors, Martha Rivera, retired from the Puerto Rico Sewer and Aqueduct Authority. We wish her a very productive and happy “retirement.” (Got you, Martha! We know you are already working with several environmental initiatives all over the island and throughout Latin America. And we know we will see you very soon!)

9) Our partner on manatee rehabilitation reports from Gabon, Africa: Jonathan Perez, a graduate student who works at the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center, is currently serving for two months on the ‘Manatus senegalensis’ rehabilitation project in Gabon, Africa, as part of the Center’s international cooperation initiatives on manatee conservation and rehabilitation. We congratulate our dear partner Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni, PhD, for the wonderful work he’s doing at the Center. Enjoy the beautiful photos from Gabon.


February 21-23, 2011- Monitoring events for certified volunteers. Call for info. at 787 725 8165 or write an email to

February 24, 2011 at 12:10pm- Plants at Trees to Touch Workshop- 1225 Ponce de León Avenue, Office 902, San Juan- FULL- Currently completing a waiting list to offer the workshop on another date-.

February 26, 2011 at 9:00am- Planting at the Cucharillas Marsh with our partner Corredor del Yaguazo.

February 26, 2011 at 7:00pm- Estuary's Cinema at the Jaime Benítez Park:

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ASLO Conference; New coral colonies; Special Fund; UPR class on the SJBE; TV interviews

Pictures: new coral colonies at our reef trail in the Condado Lagoon.

Our weekly update for February 5, 2011 to February 12, 2011 is as follows:

1) Media coverage: Hundreds of aquatic scientists in Puerto Rico for ASLO conference, sponsored in part by the SJBEP- The American Society of Limnology and Oceanography is conducting their conference “Limnology and Oceanography in a Changing World” in the Puerto Rico Convention Center beginning this Saturday. We are very proud of the work done by our Scientific Advisor, oceanographer Dr. Jorge Bauzá, and of the leading role he has taken in the coordination of this international conference.

Our press release announcing the meeting was published by leading local and international news media:>

2) Status of the SJBEP’s Special Fund: our license plate was approved and sent to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Media coverage on donations through tax return forms: This week, the agency in charge of producing local license plates (DISCO) sent the approved art for our special license plate to the Secretary of the agency in order to produce the first 5,000 license plates. The license plates will be available by the month of April, 2011, through the CESCOs of the island for only $30.00. Of this donation, we will receive $20 for the Special Fund of the San Juan Bay Estuary.

El Nuevo Día newspaper published our press release to promote the alternative of donating funds to our organization through this year's tax return forms:

3) 1,250 new coral colonies at our artificial reef: We are very proud to communicate that oceanographer Héctor Ruiz has accounted for 1,250 new coral colonies in our artificial reef trail at the Condado Lagoon. The 800 lb. structures were deployed on December 23, 2008, and in such a short period of time we are witnessing a marvelous coral restoration in the area. Please refer to the photos of the colonies, which are unique in our urban environment.

4) TV Interviews: Javier Laureano was interviewed by Univision reporter Susan Soltero to promote our activities, and to explain to the public the dredging activities going on the Río Piedras river, and the flood mitigation project at the Margarita Canal. The interviews were aired live on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at 6:45am and 7:50am, with a recorded version aired at noon. Telemundo reporter Sylvia Gómez interviewed Laureano and Dr. Bauzá on the restoration of the Condado Lagoon, and the interview aired on the same day (February 9) on the highly-rated 5:00pm news.

5) University-level class on the San Juan Bay Estuary: Javier Laureano is offering an ad honorem undergraduate course this semester, devoted exclusively to examining the San Juan Bay Estuary urban ecosystem from a humanistic approach. Students will focus their research on topics such as aquatic debris, oral history, urban water, and literature, among other subjects. The course, entitled “City and Ecology: The Bioregional Perspective of the San Juan Bay Estuary,” is being presented as part of the offerings of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of the University of Puerto Rico, Humanities Faculty, Rio Piedras Campus.

6) Key meeting held with researchers from the Institute of Neurobiology of the University of Puerto Rico: The San Juan Bay Estuary Program will partner with the Institute of Neurobiology to help them compete for a National Science Foundation grant to study novel contaminants, such as endocrine disruptors, and their effect upon SJBE’s biota. Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Javier Laureano met with the following researchers to discuss the initiative: Dr. Steve Treistman, Director, Institute of Neurobiology, UPR Medical Sciences; Dr. Mark W. Miller, Associate Director, Institute of Neurobiology, UPR Medical Sciences; Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, Assistant Professor, Institute of Neurobiology, UPR Medical Sciences; and Dr. Loretta Roberson, Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences Program, UPR Río Piedras.

7) Melaleuca stand maintenance proposal granted to contractor: Ambienta Inc, a small, successful environmental firm in Puerto Rico, was selected from among three (3) proposals to perform the maintenance and control of the invasive Melaleuca in the Canal Suárez wetland.


Estuary’s Cinema: We will screen the movie “Anna and The King” on Saturday, February 12, 2011, at 7:00pm in the Jaime Benítez Condado Lagoon Park.

ASLO Conference:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guachinanga restoration/ Dunes stabilization/ Oral history-Cucharillas/ Estuarine Comic Books/ IGERT students

Photos: IGERT student's monitoring trip; new billboard and 'mesh' to promote our Special Fund; Educational sign at the Caimito community.

Our weekly update for January 30 - February 5, 2011, is as follows:

Guachinanga island restoration initiative at the San José Lagoon: As part of next year’s Work Plan, the Cantera Peninsula Company and the San Juan Bay Estuary Program are joining efforts to restore this beautiful island in the San José Lagoon. Guachinanga is a nesting paradise for coastal birds and is home to a very unique biodiversity in the midst of the Metropolitan Area in part thanks to its isolation. Debris and sedimentation closed the small channel that separated Guachinanga from the Cantera Peninsula, and now water quality is in peril in the filled area. The Cantera Peninsula will match $100,000 of EPA funds in cash to complete a restoration dredging initiative, which has an approximate cost of $200,000.

Billboard and ‘mesh’ to promote tax return contributions to our Special Fund: Thanks to the work of our communications specialist, Georgina Vega Porrata, we obtained free of charge the placement of a billboard and a ‘mesh’ at a building in Condado to promote contributions to our Special Fund through tax returns. As soon as the billboard and mesh are placed we will publish the photo and exact address. Leverage obtained through this initiative adds up to $15,000 per month.

Drug Court’s “Addicts in Rehabilitation Program” will volunteer in dunes stabilization pilot project: As part of their rehabilitation program, Drug Court associates will contribute to our first dunes stabilization pilot project planting event that will take place (tentatively) on March 25, 2011, at an undisclosed site. We thank Drug Court’s judges and prosecutors for their interest and enthusiasm in our ecological restoration program.

New estuarine educational sign placed at the entrance of the Caimito community: Community leader Haydée Colón approached our organization to place an educational sign identifying her community as part of the San Juan Bay Estuary’s watershed. We are glad to announce that this week employees of the Municipality of San Juan installed a sign that was designed and produced by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program at the entrance of the Caimito community. Several thousands of vehicles pass the site on a daily basis.

Oral history of the Cucharillas Wetland communities: As part of her collaboration with the San Juan Bay Estuary Program during the current academic year, Ph.D. student Betzaida Ortiz is completing a research project on the oral history of the communities living on the Cucharillas Wetland. To date she has interviewed several community leaders and residents, and in the following weeks she will interview two very special community elders, each over one-hundred years of age. Ortiz, who already has a manuscript of 75 pages, began the project after a kick-off meeting with Javier Laureano. Our organization will publish the narratives at the end of 2011. We are very proud of the work Ortiz is doing and encourage her to continue her interdisciplinary research on the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Estuarine Comics Workshop - First phase of our estuarine ecological alphabetization campaign to be launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC): Twelve Junior High and High School students will participate in our Estuarine Comics Workshop, to be held on April 2, 9, and 16 at the MAC. Graphic and comics designer José Luis Vargas will be the facilitator of the workshops. The students will be drawn from the schools affiliated with our Estuary Guardians/Water Quality Monitoring Project. On March 26, they will take a guided boat tour of the ecosystem. This is the first phase of a comprehensive educational campaign that includes a TV spot, newspaper ads, a coloring book, and a comic book designed and created by students.

Conference and monitoring trip with National Science Foundation’s IGERT University of Puerto Rico students: On Wednesday, February 3, 2011, fifteen graduate students from the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) of the University of Puerto Rico went on a monitoring trip to the eastern axis of the Estuary. Ernesto Olivares, the SJBEP’s Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator, served as guide and environmental interpreter. As part of this National Science Foundation-sponsored program, Javier Laureano offered a conference to the group on January 31, 2011. Currently three IGERT students are focusing their research on the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Twentieth-Century Fox is sponsoring our Estuary’s Cinema: We want to thank Twentieth-Century Fox’s official distributors in Puerto Rico for sponsoring this key outreach initiative of our organization. Every second and fourth Saturday of each month, the SJBEP presents short films, educational documentaries, and a featured film, free of charge. Thanks to the work of our communications contractor, Georgie Vega Porrata, we obtained the permit to screen the following films (approximate monthly leverage of $500-$700):


12 Anna and the King

26 The Truth About Cats and Dogs


12 Little Miss Sunshine

26 Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest trailer


1 Los ‘100,000’ - Local documentary on abandoned cats and dogs in the streets of Puerto Rico

23 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs


April 30, 2011: Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day. Send an email to Gladys Rivera for information at