Friday, January 28, 2011

Troy Wright/ Tax returns/ Isla de Cabras Cleanup/ Ecological Literacy Campaign

Photos: volunteers working at our cleanup and planting event at Isla de Cabras.

Our weekly update for January 23 to January 28, 2011, is as follows:

1. We welcome Scotiabank-Puerto Rico’s CEO to our Board of Directors: The Board of Directors of the Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program met yesterday, January 27, 2011, at the offices of our new Board member, Mr. Troy Wright, CEO of Scotiabank-Puerto Rico. Mr. Wright has over 22 years experience in the international banking and investment industry, and holds university degrees from the University of Western Ontario and from Harvard. He has served on the Board of Directors of several prestigious nonprofit organizations. In our meeting, Mr. Wright promoted the creation of a finance plan to better structure our non-federal income. Javier Laureano, in coordination with Board members, will draft the plan to be presented at the Board’s March meeting.

2. Now you can make a donation to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in your tax returns: Yes! If you have wondered where exactly your tax money is going, now you can choose to make a donation for the improvement of the environment by supporting the extraordinary job the San Juan Bay Estuary Program is doing for our coastal ecosystems. Every cent counts; you can donate from one cent to whatever amount you chose. Just go to your Puerto Rico Tax Return, and in the Short Form look for page 3, line 22 (a), and on the Long Form look for page 2, line 40 (b). Now you know.

3. Melaleuca control project in the Suarez Canal, a pilot project for the Caribbean: Two years ago the San Juan Bay Estuary Program began the removal of a 4-acre stand of invasive species Melaleuca quinquenervia. Over 10,000 invasive trees were impacting a wetland located along one of the borders of the Suarez Canal in the Carolina Municipality. The removal project was a success, and the first of its kind done in Puerto Rico – and probably in the Caribbean. The project advanced the implementation of Action HW-16 of our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. As part of this year’s Work Plan, we will be performing maintenance efforts consisting of the manual removal of new seedlings and the application of wetland-safe herbicide. This action will prevent further recurrence of the invasion. In order to discuss the project scope, we conducted a site visit to the area with potential contractors. The following environmental consulting firms attended the site visit: Econet Solutions Inc., JC Environmental, and Ambienta, Inc. The deadline established for the proposal’s submission is February 7, 2010.

4. Caño Martín Peña Environmental Restoration Project: Dr. Jorge Bauzá represented the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in a key meeting on January 27, 2011, at 9:30 am, at ENLACE’s offices. The objective of the meeting was to explore several dredging material disposal alternatives. The consultants found new issues and possible solutions regarding the disposal of the dredging material in the artificial depressions of the San Jose Lagoon. The consultants discussed their findings, possible disposal alternatives, type and availability of capping material, and staging areas, among other topics. The following agencies and organizations were represented at the meeting: USEPA, NOAA, USACE, IDS, PBS&J, and the host, ENLACE.

5. Estuarine and Ecological Literacy Public Service Campaign: As part of a broad communications effort that will include comics, newspaper ads, TV ads, and a coloring book, 30 species of flora and fauna from the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed were selected as a good showcase of our ecosystem. Photos and information about the natural history of selected species were collected from multiple sources. As part of the initiative, the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) is providing, as an In Kind donation to the SJBEP, their education room, for conducting estuarine comic workshops with 12 students on April 9, 16, and 23, 2011.

6. Estuary Guardians, Platform for Science Fair Projects: Several of our Estuary Guardians students used their water quality monitoring experience with us as inspiration and learning grounds to complete their research projects for this year’s Science Fairs. One student, from the Escuela del Deporte de San Juan, worked on a comparison of the pH levels between the rain water of San Juan and that of the Cataño municipalities. The student found the acidity in Cataño's rain water higher than that of San Juan. The Colegio de la Congreación MITA students compared water quality from beaches along the northern and southern coasts of the Island, and the northern coast showed better water quality results. Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, was invited to participate in the Science Fairs of two schools as a judge. Congratulations to the teachers and students!

7. Estuary Guardians' Students Achievements: We are proud to inform you that Laura Roldan and Odemaris Carrasquillo, both Estuary Guardians students from the Sciences and Math Specialized School of Carolina (Pa’Los Duros), received recognition and several awards for their project entitled “Construction and integration of a design using biomass for runoff water purification.” They received the US Metric Association Award, the 2010 Regional Ricoh Sustainable Development Award, the Great 1st Award of the Regional Science Fair, and the Gran Premio de Asociación Interamericana de Ingeniería Sanitaria y Ambiental (AIDIS). They were also finalists for the Discovering H20 competition in Puerto Rico, and were invited to participate in Intel Isef 2010 in San Jose, California. Congratulations to Laura and Odemaris and to Estuary Guardian Leader Professor Yiria Guzmán!

8. Over 800 lbs. of debris removed from San Juan Bay at our cleanup in Isla de Cabras National Park: More than 60 volunteers participated in last Saturday’s cleanup and planting event. Girls Scouts, students from several schools in the Metropolitan Area, participants of the Liga Atlética Policiaca of San Juan, Caribe Hilton’s employees, and other citizens received an educational talk about the San Juan Bay Estuary and planted coastal trees species, including Almond Trees. Small children collaborated by planting white mangrove seedlings, and our volunteers picked up more than 800 pounds of debris from this western axis of the Bay. Gladys Rivera and Eddie Ramirez from the Caribe Hilton coordinated the event. Plants were provided by the Natural Resources and Environment Department’s nursery in Piñones.

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.