Estuary Program undertakes training initiatives for leaders before the next hurricane season

Estuario trains watershed leaders in Puerto Rico on effective water body management and for immediate support to communities impacted by extreme atmospheric events

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The San Juan Bay Estuary Program (Estuario), has launched a leadership training initiative for water resource management and emergency management in the face of natural disasters. Estuario will be sharing its expertise, experiences and resources for the evaluation of water bodies impacted by these events and effective support to disadvantaged communities. This initiative offers other regions throughout Puerto Rico the opportunity to apply strategies and protocols that are proven effective in difficult times. These are also protocols approved by government entities and supported by foundations and federal grants. The intention to continue providing support to the Metropolitan Area and expand its support to leaders serving regions beyond was announced today at the Junte por Vieques event, held in collaboration with the local organization Fideicomiso de Conservación e Historia Natural de Vieques and other entities, as announced by Estuario’s Executive Director, Brenda Torres Barreto.

As part of the relief and recovery initiative #EstuarioRevive, Estuario has been conducting several meetings in communities with diverse needs after Hurricane Maria. These groups provide support to the communities as needed—from providing emotional support to cleaning septic tanks.

“From the first moment, after the passage of Hurricane Maria, Estuario has remained a support to heavily impacted communities. We immediately entered the process of restoring the creeks, lagoons, canals, and beaches that were affected. We immediately created the campaign #EstuarioRevive, with the purpose of supporting the rehabilitation work in our country and offering community support to the surrounding communities,” said the Executive Director. “We aim for this effort to be replicated at the Island level, in order to achieve an empowered population and a resilient country,” she added.

Faced with this new reality, the upcoming actions are intended to improve access to clean and safe water, connectivity and quality of the basin, promote the recycling of used oils, as well as manage debris and solid waste. In addition, these seek to improve the preparedness and resilience of communities in the face of extreme events.

Activities in the communities include meetings to collect lessons learned, assessment of resilience, based on strengths identified by the community itself, and documentation of immediate needs. Educational talks are also held in schools and communities, distributing educational material. As part of the efforts, the message will be carried through our social networks. These experiences have allowed Estuario to develop a preparedness guide for the upcoming hurricane season, which will be available for distribution in communities. On the other hand, we will continue our monthly water quality monitoring in the water bodies near these communities.