The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that it has provided the San Juan Bay Estuary Program $152,400 in new funding to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts and estuary restoration, bringing the total awarded to-date under this program to $527,400. The funding, through EPA’s Urban Waters Program, will be used to assess water quality and debris impacts within the 97-square mile urban estuarine watershed and will enhance community preparedness for future storm events.
“Restoration of the San Juan Bay Estuary and priority areas, such as the Caño Martín Peña, to its optimal health is crucial to the area’s resiliency, health, and economy,” said Pete Lopez, EPA Regional Administrator. “These funds will help in the restoration of the San Juan Bay Estuary’s beauty and ecological diversity and better prepare for future storms.”
"Relief efforts in response to the impact that Puerto Rico suffered due to Hurricane Maria should be carried out in an immediate manner and through local entities with a clear understanding of the needs of each region. The support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Urban Waters Program to the San Juan Bay National Estuary Program's relief efforts in our watershed has been fundamental in the continuation of our recovery agenda in local communities and in the restoration of the bodies of water of the San Juan Bay Estuary. Healthy and safe communities are critical to build resiliency in our island," indicated Brenda Torres, Executive Director of the San Juan Bay National Estuary Program.
Fallen debris and heavy rainfall brought by Hurricane Maria, combined with an aging sanitary and stormwater infrastructure, clogged San Juan’s sewers and left its streets and water bodies filled with contaminated water. The hurricane’s destruction harmed the recreational areas and made vulnerable the quality of water of Condado Lagoon.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the San Juan Bay Estuary Program performed a preliminary assessment of the damages and needs of the San Juan Bay watershed. Newly added funds will be used to further those assessments and guide debris removal and ecological restoration projects on the ground.
EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports community efforts to restore and revitalize local canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and ocean areas and provide public access to them. The goal of the Urban Waters Program is to fund research, training and demonstrations that advance the restoration of urban watersheds, with an emphasis on underserved communities.
To learn more about the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, visit: http://www.estuario.org/
For more information on the Urban Waters Program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters and https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters.
SOURCE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency