Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dunes restoration; International Water Day; Another victory over light contamination

Pictures: students from the "City and Ecology" course in a guided tour of the ecosystem; Capetillo community will be able to sell their Capetillo Vegetable Garden products at Plaza las Américas Kiehl's store; Light contamination at La Concha hotel; "Addicts in Rehabilitation" Program helping restore Piñone's dunes.

Our update for March 15, 2011 to March 25, 2011 is as follows:

San Juan Bay Estuary participates in International Water Day: Gladys Rivera, with our Estuary Guardian teacher Yiria Muñiz and her students, were profiled by a local newspaper as they were celebrating World Water Day. This year’s theme was “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.” Both Gladys and Yiria were interviewed as they were performing water quality analysis in the Condado Lagoon. They emphasized the importance of this activity for the improvement of the San Juan Bay Estuary. To view the article at El Nuevo Día newspaper, please follow this link:

Javier Laureano profiled in El Vocero Who’s Who: El Vocero, one of the leading newspapers on the island, published a full-page interview with Javier Laureano in its Sunday edition on March 20, 2011. The Executive Director emphasized the Condado Lagoon restoration, as well as voluntary contributions through tax returns before April 15, 2011.

Dunes restoration project begun: Sand dunes are unique ecosystems and provide the first protective barrier against storms, tsunamis, and coastal flooding. Puerto Rico has lost 90% of its northern dunes due to natural as well as human activities, such as using the dunes’ sand for construction. Only in 1968 did the government prohibit coastal and dune sand extraction, when almost all the dunes were gone. On Friday, March 25, 2011, from 8:30am to noon, participants from the Drug Court’s “Addicts in Rehabilitation” joined the Department and Natural Resources and the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in the first phase of the dunes restoration project in Piñones, one of the last dunes to survive Puerto Rico’s coastal sand extraction for construction. The activity was covered by El Nuevo Día newspaper (including video):

Kiehl’s joins us to promote several projects, including CAUCE’s Capetillo Community Vegetable Garden: L’Oreal Paris and its brand Kiehl’s announced on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, their commitment to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program. Beginning on April 6, L’Oreal will sell agricultural products from the Capetillo Vegetable Garden in its Kiehl’s store in the Plaza las Américas mall. On June 5, 2011, the company is organizing the Annual La Esparanza Cleanup and Planting in the San Juan Bay with us, and will sponsor the screening of Antonio Martorell’s documentary at Cine del Estuario. The Kiehl’s store is also promoting the enrollment of volunteers in our Program as well as donations through tax returns.

Estuary Guardians participant wins First Prize, now headed to San Diego, California: On March 18, 2011, Estuary Guardian Program participant Laura Roldán received the first prize for her Project entitled "New Treatment System for Runoff Water Using Natural Filters and Biomass Remnants." The National competition will be held in San Diego next April. In the local competition, two of the six finalists were students who adopted the SJBE as their laboratory motivated by our work with the Estuary Guardians Program. They will also be competing in the Discovery H2O competition on April 14. Congratulations to Laura and to Yiria Muñiz, teacher from the José Aponte de la Torre Specialized school in Carolina and Estuary Guardian Leader.

Condado Lagoon Restoration Outreach Meeting: Stakeholders and residents of the Condado Lagoon met at the SJBEP’s office for a presentation and discussion of all the restoration projects proposed and implemented for the Condado Lagoon. The following entities attended the meeting: (1) Condado Renace Inc, (2) CONVIVE, (3) the PR Tourist Company, and (4) Tetra Tech Consulting. The SJBEP staff discussed the benthic and seagrass restoration proposed for the Condado Lagoon and other ongoing projects, including Red mangrove planting, artificial reef deployments, and storm water management.

Open Brown Bag Workshop in the SJBE office: On Wednesday, March 23, during lunch time, Dr. Jorge Bauzá-Ortega presented a workshop about ‘unknown creatures’ of the San Juan Bay Estuary system. Information about the natural history of native and exotic species was discussed, as well as the conservation efforts made by the SJBEP and its partners for the preservation and restoration of critical habitats identified in the San Juan Bay estuary.

US Army Corps of Engineers from the Jacksonville District Planning Division meets with the SJBE staff regarding the Condado Lagoon restoration: Iván Acosta and Wilberto Cubero, from the USACE Jacksonville District Planning Division, discussed with the SJBE staff and Fernando Pagés from Tetra Tech the possibility of integrating the water quality improvement and seagrass restoration project at the Condado Lagoon into the San Juan Harbor compensatory mitigation. The general concept is to dredge and deposit the sediments from La Esperanza Peninsula into the Condado Lagoon with the support and overall lead from the Army Corps and its contractors. The meeting took place in March 18, 2011.

Another victory over coastal light contamination in the Condado area: This week Javier Laureano sent documentation of a severe case of light contamination from La Concha Hotel to executives of the hotel and the PR Tourism Company. La Concha told Laureano they will take action immediately to reduce or eliminate three very powerful light bulbs illuminating up to half a mile into the Atlantic Ocean and the Condado coastal area.

ENLACE Project makes the case for Martín Peña dredging: Believe it or not, there is a small sector of the population opposed to the filling of the San José Lagoon’s artificial depressions and the dredging of the Martín Peña Channel. The ENLACE Project went to the media to make the case in favor of this key project for the restoration of the San Juan Bay Estuary. There was an error in one of the quotes in the newspaper article, depicting the San Jose Lagoon as “dead” – with only bacterial life – when in fact only the bottoms of the artificial depressions in the Lagoon are in this condition. Please follow this link to read the article:




Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Condado Lagoon Restoration/ Estuarine Indicators/ CMP Feasibility Study/ Bicycle Tour

Pictures: Benthic maps of the Condado Lagoon and Estuary Cinema sponsoring Isla Film's screening at Vieques island.

Our weekly update for March 6, 2011 to March 13, 2011 is as follow:

1) Condado Lagoon Seagrass and Water Quality Restoration Studies Update: The following constitutes the current status of this key activity: a) The Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) was completed and submitted to EPA for final signatures on February 24th, 2011; b) The Sediment Sampling and Analysis Plan was completed and submitted for review and comments February 25th, 2011; c) The MultiBeam SideScan Sonar Survey was completed March 3rd, 2011. The sediment volume calculations needed to fill the depression are being calculated; d) The Benthic Survey was completed March 5th, 2011. The Benthic Survey Report is currently being prepared, and a draft document is scheduled to be completed by March 25th, 2011; e) Sediment Sampling and Analysis Plan implementation was completed March 7th, 2011. Samples were sent to the lab, and results are expected by March 25th, 2011; f) Many underwater photographs and videos were obtained during fieldwork. This information is available on the project’s FTP site; g) As expected, shallow areas near bridges on the western end of lagoon exhibited the healthiest benthic communities. The dredged areas are very clearly defined by the MBSS surveys. Areas deeper than 17 ft mean lower low water (mllw) level did not reveal benthic diversity. Sediments in deeper depressions appeared to be very fine, dark grey, organic, and anoxic. Fine sediment thickness was estimated to be at least 24 inches; h) Sediments at La Esperanza peninsula appear to be medium grain-size yellow sand, typical of high-energy environments.

2) QAPP Approved by EPA for Another Set of Estuarine Environmental Indicators: More than a goal, having a set of environmental indicators is a milestone for our organization. These indicators will measure the health of our estuary’s ecosystem. Last week, EPA Region 2 approved our logistics, scientific methods, and procedures to use fish tissue and sediment contaminants as environmental indicators for the San Juan Bay Estuary. We thank contractor Dr. Ernesto Otero for his extraordinary job during the process for obtaining this Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).

3) Martín Peña Channel Dredging Feasibility Study: On March 10, 2011, STAC President Ernesto Díaz, Scientific Advisor Jorge Bauzá, and Javier Laureano met with the ENLACE personnel and contractor to discuss the results of the study “Current Conditions and Potential Responses to Restoration of Historic Circulation.” This is part of the process required to access federal funding to complete the much-needed dredging of the Channel. Currently over 27,000 people are living in poverty and dire conditions, including flooding with raw sanitary sewage discharges. Disposal alternatives for the dredged material are being considered.

4) February 2011 Hits Record High in Media Leverage; Stormwater, Coral, and Climate Change Campaigns Highlighted: We recently received our monthly media report and are glad to announce that sums from February 2011 totaled $99,569.94. That amount includes TV interviews, placement of public service ads, and newspaper reports about our activities.

5) Estuary Cinema in Vieques: The San Juan Bay Estuary Program participated in a special activity on the municipal island of Vieques through its Estuary Cinema project. Isla Film representatives offered a talk on the Estuary and presented the organization’s documentaries as part of a larger activity on the island, which doesn’t have any traditional movie theaters.

6) 54% knowledge acquisition registered at Estuarine Bicycle Guided Tour: Javier E. Laureano offered a guided bicycle tour to members of the community. The route departed from the Condado Lagoon Park and went to Old San Juan, and took place last Saturday, March 12, 2011, from 9:00am to 11:30am. As part of the activity, Laureano offered a diagnostic test to evaluate knowledge acquisition. 46% of participants registered a perfect score, and 54% registered knowledge acquisition on the estuary and its ecosystems.

7) Full Attendance at Estuary Cinema Screening: An average of 300 people attended last Saturday’s screening at the Condado Lagoon Park. We presented the SJBEP’s educational documentaries as well as the movie “500 Days of Summer.”

8) Dr. Jorge Bauzá Maintains his Collaboration with the Science Section of El Nuevo Día Newspaper: As part of his collaboration with this key newspaper on the island, Dr. Bauzá published a full page, full color article entitled “The Puerto Rico Trench: The Deepest Point in the Atlantic Ocean.” The article was published on Friday, March 11, 2011. Please follow the link to view the full article:


Brownbag Lunch Workshop: “Unknown Species that Inhabit our City” will be offered by Dr. Jorge Bauzá in the SJBEP’s office at 1225 Ponce de León Avenue, Office 902, from 12:00pm to 12:40pm on Wednesday, March 23, 2011.

Dune Stabilization Planting with Drug Court’s “Addicts in Rehabilitation Program”: The planting will take place in Piñones on Friday, March 25, 2011, from 8:00am to 11:30am.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

EPA National Meeting/ Volunteer Participation Goal Reached/Mangrove planting/ Marsh planting

Pictures: Volunteers planting at the Cucharillas Marsh restoration site, and Girl Scouts' annual fair booth devoted to the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Our weekly update for February 26, 2011 to March 5, 2011 is as follows:

1) Meeting at EPA - Arlington, VA / Congressman Pierluisi: Javier Laureano and Dr. Jorge Bauzá represented the San Juan Bay Estuary Program at the annual meeting of the National Estuary Program in Arlington, VA, from March 1 - March 3, 2011. As part of the event they participated in the annual Coastal Celebration, where representatives from NOAA, EPA, and other coastal-related agencies and programs gathered at DC’s Botanical Garden. Another important highlight was our meeting with Jed Bullock, Senior Advisor to Congressman Pedro Pierluisi, and Chief of Staff Carmen Feliciano, to discuss their support for the National Estuary Program and the restoration of the Condado Lagoon.

2) Board of Directors meeting of the Association of the National Estuary Program (ANEP): The Board of Directors meeting took place on March 2, 2011. Among the items discussed were ANEP’s annual budget and activities, as well as the next meetings which will take place in Santa Monica Bay the week of October 17th, where the Fall NEP Directors meeting will take place in conjunction with the Restore America’s Estuaries conference; Oct 20-24, 2012, in Tampa Bay; and, in 2013, our Fall NEP Tech Transfer meeting will take place in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

3) We reached over 1,500 volunteers for Puerto Rico Water Monitoring Day!: This week we confirmed over 1,500 participants for the celebration of Puerto Rico Water Monitoring Day, to take place on April 30th this year. The event began in 2009 with less than 30 volunteers. In 2010 it reached over 500 volunteers. Our goal for 2011 was to obtain 1,000 signers-on, and we surpassed it easily. We thank our Outreach Coordinator and local sponsors for their work.

4) Condado Lagoon’s volunteer-based Red mangrove restoration continues: Students from San Ignacio School and members of the Estuary Guardians project will continue the mangrove restoration process on the North side of the Condado Lagoon. This is part of a collaborative agreement with the San Ignacio School, an institution known for providing opportunities to its students in environmental and community-related activities. The students received an orientation and visited the site with Gladys Rivera and Jorge Bauzá from our Program. As part of their responsibilities for the project, the students will support planting events at the site.

5) Environmental Fair 2011, Girls Scouts: Last Saturday our organization sponsored the statewide fair at which two groups of Girls Scouts showcased their work. Our short movie "Guardianes del Estuario" was presented in one of the booths, complemented with an estuarine game created by the troop. Estuary educational materials and orientation were handed out to the leaders and general public during the event, that took place on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at the Pedrín Zorilla Coliseum. We thank board member Carlos Fernández Lugo for serving as liaison with the Girl Scouts and Outreach Coordinator Gladys Rivera for offering talks on the Estuary during the day.

6) Our Estuary Guardians are participating in the restoration of a mangrove forest in the San Juan Bay: Last Saturday, Estuary Guardians from the Congregación MITA visited the Red mangrove restoration site at la Esperanza Peninsula to measure and evaluate the planting they performed last November. Mangroves have grown healthily and very fast. Students will prepare a presentation on the results of the project to share the data with our Program. This event, coordinated by G-Works, Corredor del Yaguazo, and the SJBEP, is part of other planting and environment-related activities of the Estuary Guardians students.

7) Planting at the Cucharillas Marsh: Over 40 Emajaguilla, White mangrove, and Pterocarpus Officinalis trees, among others, were planted by SJBE volunteers as part of the organization’s support for the restoration of the Cucharillas Marsh. We thank the students of the Caribbean University for their support of the activity.

8) Caribbean University joins the Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day events: Caribbean University’s four campuses around the island will join the Water Monitoring Day activities, as well as other SJBE activities including this Saturday’s planting event. Each campus will adopt four schools in their area to perform water quality monitoring. Dr. Pedro Robles, Dean at the Caribbean University, met with Gladys Rivera and Javier Laureano and expressed interest in a collaborative agreement with the SJBE.

9) Visit to the Capetillo riparian restoration site: The students of the university course offered by Javier Laureano visited the Capetillo Urban Forest and Vegetable Garden to experience and contribute to the project on March 2, 2011. We thank Dr. Germán Ramos for offering a guided tour to the students, as well as José Enrique Rodríguez for assisting Laureano on the activity.


Estuarine Bicycle Tour: The Estuarine Bicycle Tour will depart from Jaime Benítez Park at the Condado Lagoon this Saturday, March 12, 2011, at 9:00am, for the ride to Old San Juan. Please, bring water in a reusable container, as well as all the protection needed for a safe urban bicycle ride, including sun block.