Our update from April 12 to April 28, 2011, is as follows:
1) Governor Approves Estuary Program’s License Plate: Hon. Governor Luis Fortuño Burset has approved the final design of our organization’s license plate. We will meet with executives from the Department of Transportation and Public Works to coordinate the final phase of the production and communication campaign of the initiative. Of the $30.00 cost of each license plate purchased by citizens to replace their current plate or to use for a new car, our organization will receive $20.00. A total of 5,000 new license plates will be issued.
2) Thousands to Participate in our Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day (PRWQMD): The San Juan Bay Estuary Program and the Environmental Quality Board announced on Wednesday, April 27, 2011, the activities that will take place this Saturday as part of PRWQMD. Beginning with 30 participants in 2009 we have had more volunteers and sponsors each year, and to date we are proud to announce that we have over 2,000 volunteers signed up for this year’s event, and 120 monitoring stations covering the island. We take this opportunity to thank Crowley Maritime Corporation, Caribbean University, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Puerto Rico Water and Environment Association, CH Caribe, and the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for their sponsorship. Javier Laureano has participated in several radio, newspaper, and TV interviews to promote the activity.
3) Caimito Community Concerned with Sediment and Debris Dumped by Contractor: Community leaders from Caimito met with Javier Laureano to express their concern regarding a considerable amount of sediment and debris being dumped literally near their backyards. A large amount of this sediment reaches the Chiclana Creek and is then deployed into the San Juan Bay. The US Corps of Engineers invests over 10 million dollars every 3-5 years in dredging this kind of sediment from the navigational channels of the Bay. The contractor responsible for this action has been issued a court order to stop the sediment dumping. However, according to our community representatives, the activity persists.
4) First Environmental Short Film Festival of the SJBEP: Our organization has an open call for environmental short films that will be presented as part of the Estuary’s Cinema on May 25, 2011. We welcome films from 5 to 20 minutes in length. We have a very distinguished jury including José Artemio Torres – President of the Puerto Rico International Film Festival – and Dr. Abruñas – from the US Green Building Council.
5) Alliance with Plaza Internacional Mall: Javier Laureano and President Salas Soler have met with Frank Trogolo from Plaza Internacional several times to discuss an alliance with the mall that will be developed near the San José Lagoon. On April 19, 2011, the Program sent a proposal to Trogolo. If approved, it will be of great benefit to our education and outreach program.
6) SJBEP at the San Jorge Children’s Hospital: During the celebration of its first Ecological Fair, the Hospital screened our animated short film “Guardianes del Estuario” on the lobby monitors and on all the rooms’ television units. Our Outreach Coordinator provided educational talks to visitors and patients, including young cancer patients who enjoyed the movie and the information.
7) Environmental Fairs at Ft. Buchannan and the Río Piedras Square: A group of high school students from the Antilles Schools at Ft. Buchannan performed water quality monitoring colorimetric tests at a creek near their school. The activity is part of the PR Water Monitoring Day celebration. The visitors to the environmental fair received educational information on the San Juan Bay Estuary thanks to our intern Yanitza Hernández. Also, Gladys Rivera participated with an information booth at the Environmental Quality Board’s fair at the Río Piedras square, where she offered talks about the ecosystem and presented information to citizens.
8) First Comic Book Workshop Finished: Our last comic book workshop on stormwater pollution took place on Saturday, April 16, 2011, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. As part of this closing workshop, Javier Laureano and Gladys Rivera participated in a very interesting group session conducted by José Luis Vargas with the students, during which they discussed potential topics for future comic book projects in their communities. One of the main concerns of the students is school bullying, and some bullying victims shared their experiences in a very emotional moment with the group.
9) Closing Newspaper Series Article by Dr. Jorge Bauzá: Dr. Bauzá finished a three-week series of articles on the San Juan Bay Estuary ecosystems for the El Nuevo Día newspaper Sunday edition. On this occasion Bauzá explained the importance of mangrove ecosystems. The newspaper published a letter to the editor from a citizen praising the article and the estuarine ecological publications by our Scientific Advisor.