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1. Project Partner

Joined for a Better Environment

  • Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute
  • University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
  • San Juan Bay Estuary Program
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico at Ponce

2. Researchers

Jorge Rivera

Jorge Rivera Santos, Ph.D.
PRWRERI Director
University of Puerto Rico
Mayagüez Campus
jorge.rivera40@upr.edu

3. Students

Ian M. Feliciano Rivas

Ian M. Feliciano Rivas
Concentration: Civil Engineering
Undergraduate Student: Civil Engineering
Expected Graduation Date: December 2020
e-mail: ian.feliciano@upr.edu

4. Activities

5. Other Documents


Puerto Rico Integration Trash Free Waters
Title: Puerto Rico Integration Trash Free Waters/Floatables Characterization at Two Floood Control Pump Stations

Duration: June 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020

Sponsoring Agency: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Project Strategy, Technical Assistance

and Training Approaches


1. Project Narrative

The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), owns and operates 14 Flood Control Pump Stations (FCPS) located at different locations around the island of Puerto Rico. These FCPS are designed to convey floodwaters during extreme weather events to protect life and property within their drainage areas. The flow to and transferred by the DNER FCPSs originates from urbanized areas of the municipalities separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, thus DNER does not control or own the stormwater sewer system or connections discharging to the DNER FCPSs.

Floodwater often contains solids and large amounts of fibrous materials, like branches, leaves, weeds, trash, dirt, and sediments such as sand, silt, mud, and soil. These stormwater pollutants can get caught in the sump pump and bar screens making the system more susceptible to flooding. Floatable debris can also harm physical habitats, transport chemical pollutants, threaten aquatic life, and interfere with human uses of river, marine, and coastal environments. Plastic is known to have the greatest potential to harm the environment, wildlife and humans.

On December 23, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a civil action (signed by the Judge on June 29, 2017) against the DNER for discharges of extremely large volumes of storm water heavily contaminated with raw sewage from two of its FCPS located in San Juan in violation of the CWA. These discharges flow into waters in and around San Juan, including the San Juan Bay and the Martín Peña Channel, as well as onto the Condado Beach (a major tourist beach) and into the Atlantic Ocean. Recognizing the impact of floatables to the operation of the FCPS, EPA required the DNER, as part of the injunctive relief, to submit a protocol and report for monitoring and measuring floatables and install necessary controls in the FCPS subject to the civil action. These measures will prevent significant amounts of undesirable solids (e.g., sludge, garbage) from entering the above-named water bodies each year. The implementation of the Consent Decree provides greater protection of the San Juan Bay Estuary (a federally-identified estuary of national significance) and its intended designated uses.

This pilot project aims to characterize the total amount of floatables that reach the FCPS and develop mitigation plan and management alternatives. The FCPS of this project are Juana Matos, within the San Juan Bay Estuary (SJBE) study area in Cataño municipality, and FCPS El Guapo in Salinas, a municipality located in the PR’s south area (please noticed that these two FCPS are not under the Consent Decree). These two environmental justice communities were severely flooded during hurricane Maria. Data collected will allow to compare debris behavior in rainy- North and dry-South areas, and it will be useful to develop mitigation plans focused on reducing the land-based types of products and packaging that end up at the discharge point of the FCPS and that has the potential to be discharged into receiving waters. The data gathered will help also to identify pollutant sources and to develop a fact sheet with BMPs to to create controls to reduce the amount of floatables reaching the FCPS and consequently the receiving waters. This project seeks collaboration among the stakeholders that are part of the TFW efforts island-wide to accomplish proposed actions contained in the 2015 Summary of proposed actions for EPA TFWs such as to Develop Database/Information Resource Pertaining to Island-wide Aquatic Trash Prevention and Reduction Efforts. The SJBE Program, the UW Ambassador and the UW coordinators will provide assistance and support to the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM), which is one of the stakeholders of the PR Trash Free Waters initiative, to recruit volunteers for the project that will be developed in the Cataño municipality. Also, can provide their expertise that would help the UPRM in the recruitment in the Salinas area. There are much more FCPS around the island with the same problems impacting environmental communities and that are very vulnerable to bad weather conditions, therefore this project has a great potential to be replicated in other FCPS belonging to the DNER and municipalities of Puerto Rico.

Around 40 volunteers will be recruited for this effort (20 for Cataño area and 20 for Salinas). The volunteers will be trained on floatable characterization protocols. Twenty-two visits are proposed for both sites, one every two weeks for eleven months (June 2019 to April 2020). This schedule will allow for varying raining seasons and community behavior through out the duration of the project. The collected data will be statistically analyzed, and mitigation plans developed.

 

Table 1. Work Plan

Phase/Task Description Stakeholders
Phase 1 Preliminaries (administrative procedures and meetings  
Task 1 Account creation and other administrative procedures

UPRM

PRWRERI

Task 2

Coordination meeting with SJBEP and PUCPR

  • Present project
  • Coordinate and assign responsibilities
  • Develop volunteer recruitment strategies
  • Coordinate and develop training workshops (two
    sessions - one in San Juan, one in Salinas)

PRWRERI

PR-TFW

DNER

PUCPR

SJBEP

Task 3

Coordination meeting with PRDNER (San Juan)

  • Present the project
  • Identify relevant information/reports/manuals/guides
    from DNER
  • Coordinate two field visits
    • Observe operational status of FCPS
    • Determine sampling points
    • Gather O/M information
    • Determine drainage area limits
    • Asses storm sewer system condition (Catch
      Basins, Manholes, Screen Bars, etc.)

PRWRERI

PR-TFW

DNER

Phase 2 Volunteer Recruitment and Training  
Task 1 Develop safety plan/protocols

PRWRERI

DNER

Task 2

Conduct volunteer training sessions (half day)

  • Present project
  • The problem - Status, information, studies, US' and
    PR's statutes and regulations
  • Safety protocols
  • Characterization of floatable trash protocols

PRWRERI

DNER

USEPA

PRDNER

PR-TFW

Phase 3 Monitoring and Characterization  
Task 1 Monitoring and characterization of floatables
From July to May @ two visits/month/site (44 visits)

SJBEP

PUCPR

PRWRERI

DNER

Phase 4 Migrations Plans Development  
Task 1 Statistical Analyses PRWRERI
Task 2 Mitigation Plan

SJBEP

PUCPR

PRWRERI

Task 3 BMP's Fact Sheet

SJBEP

PUCPR

PRWRERI

Task 4 Final Report

SJBEP

PUCPR

PRWRREI

 

As shown in Table 1, the project is comprised of four phases. Each phase has from one to four tasks. The duration of the project is set to thirteen months as shown in Table 2 and the Gantt Chart pictures below.

Table 2. Project Phases Duration

Phases Description Duration in Months
1 Preliminaries (administrative procedures and meetings 0.50
2 Volunteer Recruitment and training 0.75
3 Floatable Monitoring and characterization 11
4

Mitigation Plans Development

(starting shortly after Floatable Characterization Site
Visiits and finishing two months after the site visits are
concluded)

10

 

TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1 TFW_Gantt_Chart_1

Last Modified: 20/11/2019