June 10, 2022—San Juan, PR—The San Juan Bay Estuary Program was visited this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete its Program Evaluation process. This evaluation is carried out every five years to ensure compliance with the actions of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan of the San Juan Bay Estuary (CCMP). The team made a tour of different community-based projects throughout the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed and managed to verify first-hand, together with leaders and community entities, the results of Estuario’s efforts.
An extensive agenda took them on the first day to Estuario’s Visitor Center, in Old San Juan, where different members of the team made, together with the executive director Brenda Torres Barreto, a presentation regarding the progress of the different actions denoted in our Work Plan. Then, they moved to the Community of Puente Blanco in Cataño, where they met with civic leaders, who presented the status of actions carried out in their community.
The second day, dedicated to highlighting our Green Infrastructure and Coastal Resilience projects, began at the plant nursery of Centro Tau, collaborators in Loíza. A dune and mangrove restoration event was held in Piñones, continuing with a boat tour of the San José Lagoon, which culminated with a visit to the Península de Cantera Community Center and the Caño Martin Peña. In the afternoon, they visited the estuarine Resilient Hub located in Taller Comunidad La Goyco on Calle Loíza, the Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve, and finished at the Club Náutico de San Juan, where they observed the BIOHUTS recently installed under the pier.
The third and final day was dedicated to Urban Resilience and the Community Water Network. They started the day at the Vivero, Huerto y Bosque Urbano de Capetillo. They evaluated the restoration process of the Juan Méndez and Peraza streams thanks to the Illicit Discharges Project (IDDE Task Force), then went to the Centro Cultural de Caimito, culminating the day with a tasting of pom, an ancestral dish of the community.
We thank all the collaborators who supported us during this multi-day tour:
The leaders of the Comunidad Organizada de Puente Blanco, Comunidad de Cantera, Caimito, the Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, G-8, Amigos de la Laguna del Condado, Tostado in Calle Loíza, Para La Naturaleza, Vida Marina at UPR Aguadilla, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, the Instituto Transdisciplinario de Investigación-Acción (ITIAS) at UPR Humacao, Corporación Píñones se Integra (COPI), La Casita Blanca, Consejo Vecinal de Cantera, Corporación para el Desarrollo Integral de Cantera, the Municipality of San Juan (Parque Jaime Benítez), Comedores Sociales, Taller Comunidad La Goyco, Centro TAU and Club Náutico de San Juan.
But especially, thanks to EPA’s Region 2: Office of Water, Office of Wetlands Oceans and Watersheds, Division of Oceans Wetlands and Communities, Partnership Programs Branch, National Estuary Program, and Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership.
At Estuario, we feel revitalized. We’re ready to begin a new cycle of actions for the restoration, management and strengthening of the connected water bodies of the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed, its ecosystems, communities, and its people. Onwards!