Friday, September 30, 2011

Capetillo Urban Forest reborn; SRF; Guachinanga dredging; STAC meeting; Indicators; New weather station; Martín Peña sanitary sewer

Prof. Vicenty from the Central High School of Visual Arts in her Vegetable Garden; Students from the San Ignacio School removing pvc tubes from our Red mangrove restoration site; Capetillo Urban Forest reborn!

Our update for September 7 to September 30, 2011, is as follows:

1) Very hard work pays off: Capetillo’s Urban Forest reborn: Thanks to our contractor from Ambienta, Inc., and the efforts of the community and Dr. Germán Ramos, in only one week, from September 23 to September 30, 2011, most of the trees torn down by hurricane Irene were cut and piled aside, and others were used to create new interpretative trails. Several berms were created to improve the water quality of the two creeks of the forest, and over 200 new plants were planted along the edges of the creeks and over the berms. We want to thank Dr. Germán Ramos for his leadership and example of hands-on work with his students, and our contractor from Ambienta, Walter Soler, for all his hard work in the cleanup and enhancement of this community project.

2) State Revolving Funds: Making the case to promote the San Juan Bay Estuary as a priority zone: In a public hearing conducted at the facilities of the Environmental Quality Board on September 21, 2011, at 9:30 am, Javier Laureano discussed the importance of our ecosystem and its links to public health and the economy of the island. The Program is presenting an SRF proposal to study the specific sites in the watershed where sewage water discharges are occurring. The study will work as a blueprint for identifying the infrastructure needed to improve the water quality of the Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico.

3) Guachinanga island dredging: The Program has been working on the agreements needed to begin the bidding process, in October, 2011, for dredging a small segment of this small island that is currently attached to the Cantera Peninsula by sediments and debris. The activity will improve water quality and circulation in this axis of the San José Lagoon. On September 20, 2011, Javier Laureano met with Joshua Galarza, Esq., Director of DNER’s Legal Office, in order to discuss the main contributions to the project from the DNER. All requests from the SJBEP were met.

4) Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee meeting, October 14, 2011: Eng. Fernando Pagés from TetraTech presented the major findings regarding the Condado Lagoon benthic and seagrasses restoration project. Several implementation and restoration ideas were discussed by the STAC. As a part of the meeting, we welcomed Mr. José Rivera, from NOAA, as a new STAC member.

5) New weather station to be installed in Río Piedras by Dr. Pablo Méndez from the University of Puerto Rico: On September 23, 2011, the Scientific Advisor, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, met with Dr. Méndez and identified Las Curias, on the upper side of the SJBE’s watershed, as the best place to operate the weather station. The meteorological data collected by this instrument will be crucial for the analysis, interpretation, and modeling of water quality data.

6) New phase of the Red Mangrove restoration site in the Condado Lagoon: On September 28, 2011, the outreach coordinator, Gladys Rivera, the scientific advisor, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, and high school students from Colegio San Ignacio removed old pvc tubes from the Condado Lagoon’s Red Mangrove restoration site. One-hundred-thirteen empty, worn, pvc tubes used for the implementation of the Reily Encapsulated mangrove planting technique were removed from the site. However, approximately 350 red mangroves trees, from 3 to 4 feet tall, are still growing well as part of this planting effort.

7) Update from our Estuarine indicators: The report entitled Estuarine Environmental Indicators for the San Juan Bay Estuary: Assessment of Sediments and Fish Tissue Contaminants was submitted by Dr. Ernesto Otero, from the UPR Mayagüez campus, on September 29. This report contains the results and conclusions of the fish tissue and sediment contaminants study performed at 18 stations in the San Juan Bay Estuary.

8) The Estuary: a new experience for middle school students: On September 9, thirty students from the Hossana Academy in Carolina experienced for the first time a school field trip focused on the environment and science. Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, offered the group an educational talk and a guided tour through the Black Mangrove forest of the Piñones Nature Reserve. Water quality monitoring was performed as well.

9) International Coastal Cleanup: SJBE joined the Scuba Dogs Society’s efforts during this event. Fifty SJBE volunteers participated in the cleanup activities on September 17, 2011, at Bayview in Cataño. Students, 4H members, parents, and a community leader from the area joined Gladys Rivera to collect more than 1,000 pounds of sub-aquatic debris. We thank 4H Club of Cataño leader Patricia Rosa; Congregación Mita teacher Dana Pérez, and Bay View community leader Don Vicente for their collaboration.

Other communities of the SJBE participated in the cleanup, including Parque la Esperanza in Cataño, two sites on the Río Piedras river, the Chiclana creek, Ocean Park, the Condado Lagoon, the Escambrón beach, Isla Verde, and several other areas in the Piñones community.

10) Interagency team created for sewer cleanup in the Martin Peña Communities: Community groups organized by G-8, Inc., and the Enlace Corporation invited representatives from EPA, SJBEP, Environmental Quality Board, San Juan Municipality, PRASA, NR&ED, and PR Community office to join efforts to clean sewers in the communities affected by flooding. A field technical visit held September 16 and a meeting September 23 were sufficient to make a plan and begin the field work.

The week of September 26, the San Juan Municipality and PRASA began the cleanup activities that will continue until all identified areas are covered. Gladys Rivera and Jorge Bauzá represented the SJBEP and offered support in the Outreach and Scientific areas. Congratulations to community leaders of G8, Inc., and Enlace Corporation for this initiative.

11) Welcome new Estuary Guardians school groups: We welcome Adolfina Irizarry de Puig School in Toa Baja and the Central High School of Visual Arts School in San Juan as our new Estuary Guardian members. Toa Baja’s school will be monitoring the West side of the San Juan Bay, and Central High will monitor the East side. We thank the collaboration of the Department of Education Regional Science Coordinator, Ruth Rosa, in adopting this project for the Toa Baja’s school, and the science teachers who will be working with the Guardians in both schools.

12) Another crowded Estuary’s Cinema screening: The September 24, 2011, screening of the blockbuster “Australia” was a hit in our Estuary’s Cinema project in the Condado Lagoon Park. More than 300 people attended the show, where we also presented educational material about the SJBE.

13) Alliance with the Central High School’s Vegetable Garden- Thanks to the activities of current Work Plan, the SJBEP was able to support the Central High’s Vegetable Garden with the purchasing of planting tools for the students, wood, seeds, and other materials needed for their garden. Teacher Vicenty is the leader of the initiative in the school, where already 100 students are working with great enthusiasm. The School is now part of our Estuary Guardians.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update for August 16, 2011 to September 6, 2011

Sanitary overflow corrected after SJBEP's filed complaint; Capetillo Urban Forest devastated by Hurricane Irene; Trash overflow in the Condado Lagoon cleaned after SJBEP's asked for help; Beach impacted by sanitary overflow.

1) 1,500 Melaleuca seedlings removed from wetland restoration site before Hurricane Irene’s landfall in PR: In 2009 the SJBEP removed over 10,000 invasive species of Melaleuca quinquenervia trees from a wetland known as La Marina. Since the beginning of 2011 we have been in charge of the maintenance of the wetland and, as part of this process, our contractors from Ambiental, Inc., removed 1,500 seedlings from the site. The hurricane would have had the effect of scattering the seeds of the species into the wetland and repopulating it with Melaleuca, affecting its hydrological process.

2) Capetillo Community Urban Forest devastated by Hurricane Irene, SJBEP to contribute in restoration efforts: Jorge Bauzá, Javier Laureano, and Walter Soler visited the forest on August 30, 2011, and found that most of the trees and vegetation were down. The same day, the SJBEP met with the community representatives and communicated with the Department of Natural Resources to draft a plan to restore the forest.

Walter Soler, our contractor, began pruning and planting new species on September 7, 2011.

3) SJBEP conducts chemical water analysis after Irene to monitor impacts on water quality: From August 22 - 27, 2011, the SJBEP conducted a physical, biological, and chemical monitoring of the ecosystem to assess the impact of the storm on the SJBE. Some of the suspected affected parameters include fecal coliform, enterococus, turbidity, and chlorophyll-a.

4) Popular, Inc. to sponsor SJBEP’s educational exhibit and vegetable gardens: Our Board’s Bank and Finance Chair – Ramón Lloveras San Miguel – and Javier Laureano, met with representatives from the Banco Popular to propose an alliance for the launching of SJBEP’s educational exhibit “Unknown Species that Inhabit Our City.” As part of the proposal, both organizations will create two vegetable gardens.

Since 2003 the organization and Popular, Inc. have been in dialogue to organize an exhibit of the Estuary, and we are thankful to Carmen Lidin and Teruca Rullán for their support of this idea through the years and this rewarding conclusion for all parties.

5) Condado Lagoon Park affected by trash overflows, cleaned after SJBEP call for help: Due to its proximity to one of the best-kept estuarine bodies of water, this is a very ecologically sensitive park. In the Condado Lagoon there are frequent sightings of manatees, starfish, stingrays, and even seahorses. Since this park is in the middle of an administrative transition from the Puerto Rico Park Company to the hands of the San Juan Municipality, trash is rarely picked up and security guards have abandoned the park. Javier Laureano contacted María Batista, Sports and Recreation Director of the San Juan Municipality, and the trash was removed.

6) SJBEP files complaint for sanitary overflow affecting the Condado/Ocean Park beach: On September 6, 2011, our organization filed complaint number 41714497 to inform and request corrective action from the Puerto Rico Sewer and Aqueduct Authority on a sanitary overflow that is directly affecting the Condado/Ocean Park beach. Javier Laureano took photos of the citizens walking over the sanitary overflow in the sand.

We thank our collaborators from PRASA for eliminating the overflow within two hours from our notice to the agency.

7) Contribution from Miller/Coors Brewing Co.: The company will donate $5,000 to the SJBEP for the organization’s habitat restoration program. Executives from the corporation will deliver the check to the organization in a cleanup event to take place next October 1, 2011.

8) Key meetings with Claudia Gutiérrez, Senior Advisor to Judith Enck, EPA’s Region 2 Administrator: On September 2, 2011, Claudia Gutiérrez met with the SJBEP’s Executive Director and Evelyn Huertas to explore several projects that may benefit from EPA’s expertise and contribution. Topics included recycling in federal facilities, glassphalt, environmental education, and brownfields, among others. Camilla Fibleman from the Sierra Club and Lyvia Rodríguez from the Proyecto Enlace participated in the meetings.

9) Inauguration of the Science, Mathematics, Technology, and Language School of Carolina Municipality: Our Outreach Coordinator participated in the inauguration ceremony of the second phase of this important education center in Carolina previously known as Escuela Pa’ los Duros. This specialized school has been part of our Estuary Guardians since the beginning of the project, being one of the more active groups. We are proud to mention that scientific project posters related to water monitoring created by Estuary Guardians students, as well as portraits of water monitoring events, were included among the educational material in the classrooms. We congratulate the Carolina Municipality for this excellent initiative.

10) CAC meeting: The Citizens Advisory Committee’s meeting took place on Thursday, September 1, 2011, at the Corredor del Yaguazo’s community initiative facilities, from 5pm to 8pm.

The next day, September 2, 2011, Javier Laureano met with representatives from the Residentes Unidos de Barrio Obrero Marina (RUBOMI) to discuss financial support alternatives for their community-based recycling project.

11) Kayak Fridays at the Laguna de Condado: Last Friday, September 2, 2011, the Kayak and Canoe Federation offered our citizens another great opportunity to enjoy this estuarine lagoon at night. During the event, educational flyers from the SJBE were distributed. For more information go to Facebook group "Federacion Canoa y Kayak de Puerto Rico."


September 10, 2011: The SJBEP presents the movie “Moulin Rouge” as part of Cine del Estuario. The movie will be screened at 7:00pm in the Condado Lagoon Park: [CANCELED DUE TO TROPICAL STORM]

September 17: International Coastal Cleanup