Monday, February 24, 2014


On February 15, 2014 a group of citizens and volunteers of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program decided to take action and help improve the environment of our city.  The San Juan Municipality and the Environmental Protection Agency are the main sponsors of the project.  We also thank the Solid Waste Management Authority for their support. 

Using PVC tubes, the volunteers and members of the staff of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program created a vertical garden in a building that has been abandoned for 20 years.  This is one of several strategies that we are using to improve the green infrastructure of the city.  
We are planting several species that can resist tropical weather and do not need constant maintenance.  These plants will attract birds, pollinators, butterflies, and other species.

Ecologist Dr. Ricardo Colón, a staff member of our organization, is one of the leaders of the project.  When we improve the green infrastructure of our city, we are also helping to improve water quality by creating new filters that process the rain before it reaches the bodies of water of our Estuary.    

Geographer Roberto Morales helped in the process and contributed in several interventions with exercises of participatory cartography.  In this community-based exercises community members offer their opinion about issues such as the the potential uses of abandoned lots and buildings.    

Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, helped to remove ads placed illegally all over the city.  Noelia Rosa from the San Juan Municipality is in the process of identifying the municipal regulations that will help stop this inadequate advertising practice.      

Senator José Nadal Power and most of the staff of his office attended the activity and were leaders in the event.  In the photo the group is in the process of planting several species in the sidewalks of the Ponce de Leon Avenue.  Thank you Maruki and Ana Sofía for your leadership!!

Planting new trees in the sidewalks of the city very near the Condado Lagoon and the San Antonio Canal.  Every tree planted improves the biodiversity of our Estuary and filters the stormwater that reach the lagoons, the Bay and channels of the ecosystem. 

One of our volunteers helping in the installation of the PVC tubes.  

Another activity that we want to highlight took place on Saturday, February 22, 2014.  In this occasion we were able to take out from the bottom of the Condado Lagoon over 1,000 glass bottles.  The Program wants to thank our volunteers and scuba divers for this great cleanup effort. 

Some unexpected materials came out of the Lagoon.  We are planning a marine debris exhibit using all these materials recovered from the bottom of our bodies of water, more information on the way.

Our heroes, our volunteers, thank you for all your time and effort to improve your city, your ecosystem, the San Juan bay Estuary. We also want to recognize our Marine Debris Coordinator, Cristina Ramírez, who just completed her Master's degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Solid Waste Management.  

1) Gardens of the Estuary: Greening our Estuary’s watershed block-by-block, and building-by-building.

Yes, this is one of those projects where we are able to see an immediate difference in our urban environment.  This is the kind of initiatives for which you wake up every day full of enthusiasm to work for an environmental not-for-profit organization. 

With Gardens of the Estuary over 100 volunteers and members of the community are transforming the façades of abandoned buildings into vertical gardens.  The goal behind this project is twofold: restore degraded spaces in the city while increasing the amount of green infrastructure that can provide a myriad of ecosystem services such from aesthetic value to air quality improvement.

On February 15, 2014 we worked on the abandoned façade of the Puerto Rico Telephone Building (Ponce de León 1052) and before that, on January 26, 2014 on an abandoned lot at the beginning of the Ponce de León Avenue in Río Piedras, near La Tertulia library.   

Some of the partners of the project include the San Juan Municipality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, the Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

A few links to the news coverage of this activity:  

Watch the video of the activity here:

2) Second underwater cleanup of the Condado Lagoon

When: Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where:  The northern axis of the bottom of the Condado Lagoon, underneath the Dos Hermanos bridge.  

Who:  47 volunteers, including 15 scuba divers, students and members of the community

What:  1,189 glass bottles; 69 cans; 462 pieces of debris; 2 fishing debris; 1 chair; other materials.

Partners:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Environmental Protection Agency; Solid Waste Management Authority; the Municipality of San Juan; Scuba Dogs; the Kayak federation of PR; Kayaqueros del Este; and Saint John’s School.   

3) 173,600 lbs. of materials recycled during the San Sebastián Festival 2014 in Old San Juan:  34% of the  solid waste produced in the event was recovered.

For second consecutive year the San Juan Bay Estuary Program was part of an alliance  organized by the Municipality of San Juan to make recycling happen in the biggest annual event of the Island:  the San Sebastián Festival.  

From January 16 to January 19, 2014 a total of 200 volunteers were leaders of this movement and managed 27 recycling stations located in strategic spots in the Old City.  This is a truly massive event.  Year 2014 marked the 44th edition of the festival.  Over 240,000 attended the Fiestas de la Calle.     

Follow the following media links for more information:

4) Public participation and partnership meetings
Implementation Committee (ImCo):  On January 21st members of the Implementation Committee of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program had their first meeting of 2014. The Implementation Committee is comprised of representatives of multiple local and federal agencies, municipalities and other entities that work on the implementation of our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The meeting was very productive and generated several ideas for new projects to be included in our next Work Plan.
Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC): The Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) met in February 19, 2014 at the SJBEP offices. During this meeting the committee expressed their ideas for new projects as well as their concerns for current environmental situations in several areas of the watershed. These meetings are vital to the implementation of the CCMP as they provide insights from unique stakeholders of the San Juan Bay Estuary.
Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve Co-Management Commission: The co-management commission of the newly designated Condado Lagoon Estuarine Natural Reserve had its first meeting on January 21st 2014. The co-management commission includes representatives from local and federal agencies (such as NOAA, USFWS, and the DNER) as well as local residents and stakeholders (such as business owners and other users of the lagoon). The co-management commission has the duty of preparing the Reserve’s management plan and making sure that the conservation of the Condado Lagoon goes hand in hand with the interests of its multiple users. 
Scientific and Technical Committee (STAC):  The President of the STAC, Mr. Ernesto Díaz, announced that this meeting will take place during March 2014.         

5) Ciudadela joins the Estuary’s Cinema

We are proud to announce that the apartment complex Ciudadela is sponsoring the Estuary’s Cinema project and will screen a new movie every month in their spectacular facilities in the heart of Santurce.             

6)  LAMAR and Mi Puerto Rico Verde joins our Program to help spread the word of the estuarine conservation

This month the SJBEP received the equivalent of $120,000 in donated billboard space courtesy of LAMAR Advertising Company ( With their contribution the conservation and education campaigns of the SJBEP will reach many more viewers. Thank you!
Mi Puerto Rico Verde ( is currently proving the SJBEP with a public service campaign valued at $1,200 each month. Mi Puerto Rico Verde has a huge online presence with a constantly update blog of environmental news in Puerto Rico and over 118,000 subscribers in Facebook. A big thank you to the Mi Puerto Rico Verde team! 

7) This tax season brings a new opportunity to  contribute to the San Juan Bay Estuary
Remember that you can support the SJBEP by simply donating a dollar or two from your tax return. It is as simple as writing the amount you want to donate on the 1B space of your State Tax form. Every penny counts!
Thanks to the media outlets that support our campaigns: