Program Overview

    Exploring, Encouraging, Educating, and Finding Solutions, since 1964. The Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute (PRWRERI) is a center dedicated to the identification and development of solutions to water resources problems in Puerto Rico and tropical regions.

    The general objectives of the Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute are:
    1. To conduct research aimed at resolving local and national water resources problems
    2. To train scientists and engineers through hands-on experience in research
    3. To facilitate the incorporation of research results in the knowledge base of water resources professionals.
    To accomplish these objectives, the Institute identifies Puerto Rico's most important water resources research needs, funds the most relevant and meritorious research projects proposed by faculty members from the island’s higher education universities, encourages and supports the participation of students in funded projects, and disseminates research results to scientists, engineers, and the public. The Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute is one of 54 water research centers established throughout the United States and its territories by Act of Congress in 1964 and presently operating under Section 104 of the Water Research and Development Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-242 as amended). This year's request consists of four components: the program management and three research projects. These components are described in the following sections.
Program Management Description
    The program management, not only takes care of overseeing the 104B associated research projects, it also seeks research funds for projects while performing water resources and environmental related research mainly for Puerto Rico and, to an extent, to other Caribbean countries. Puerto Rico is going through the worst economic crisis ever since the Commonwealth’s establishment in 1952. This situation has lapsed for several years and has affected the availability of government funds to support water-related research and projects. As a result of this situation, the Institute is running with no state funding support to pay staffers. During past years, the Institute hasn’t been able to renew or make new contracts for hiring administrative and research assistant support. This situation has not improved, on the contrary, it has worsened after the government filed for bankruptcy two years ago. The US Congress has acted upon and legislated and passed a congressional bill (S. 2328) Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) which established a Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. This implies that government expenditures must be managed through a Fiscal Plan, submitted by the Governor, and approved by the Oversight Board, in which research funds are not a priority. The University of Puerto Rico's operational budget is part of the government’s fiscal plan. As such, it has been scheduled to be halved by 2021. Regardless of all attempts to improve Puerto Rico’s economy, the Commonwealth Government of Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy in June 2017. Nevertheless, the PRWRERI will continue to submit research proposals to federal agencies and to seek funds from federal, local government agencies, municipalities, and the private sector to strengthen its water resources related research program. Hurricane María recovery effort funding has been targeted by the Institute to contribute to the recovery of the Island. FEMA’s passthrough funds have been assigned by the PR Planning Board to the Institute to update the regulations for stormwater sewer system design to create resilience in future designs and retrofitting projects. Also, the Institute will increment efforts in expanding his services to local government agencies such as the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewer Authority (PRASA), PR Environmental Quality Board (PREQB), PR Planning Board (PRPB), PR Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER) and other institutions in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and other Latin American countries. The PRWRERI will continue to broaden its mission to promote research, education, services, and technology transfer to the Caribbean and other Latin American countries. The following five objectives, proposed in the Institute’s Strategic Plan, will allow the Institute to fulfill its mission:
    • To promote and manage competitive research in areas related to water resources, environmental sciences and engineering.
    • To offer training to new scientists and engineers through research.
    • To keep technicians, engineers, scientists, and other environmental professionals up to date on the results of recent research in water resources, environmental sciences and engineering.
    • To offer education and hands-on training to engineers, technicians, operators, and other professionals in topics related to water resources, environmental sciences and engineering.
    • To collaborate with, and advise, government agencies, communities, and the private sector in the solution of problems related to water resources and the environment.
Research Program

    This fiscal year’s local request for proposal had a limited response, probably due to new austere measures adopted by the University’s administration and the high matching requirement of the 104B program. After an appropriate evaluation of the submitted proposals, the PRWRERI selected three proposals (two new projects and one continuing project) for funding under the 104B Section. These are…

    1. Geomorphic evolution of the Río Grande de Añasco Lower Valley and its impact on water resources (new project - a collaborative effort between personnel from the USGS, the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence at UPRM, and the PRWRERI).
    2. Atrazine and glyphosate monitoring in water streams and degradation using a novel TiO2-based biopolymer (new project)
    3. Nanotechnology-based wastewater treatment for reuse – Phase II (a continuingn ongoing project).
    The Institute will continue strengthening its relations with federal; as well as, state agencies and local municipalities. The Central Government’s administration has undergone continuous changes in agency heads (including a new Governor), which makes it difficult to establish continuous networking. Regardless new relationships are being established though, through meetings and visits to key agency personnel. New research ideas or specific research areas requested by local government agencies or municipalities need to be explored and investigated before a proposal can be developed. This “modus operandi” has proved beneficial in preparing sound and effective proposals, but requires the help of additional personnel, such as research assistants, which we do not have available at this time. To continue this successful strategy, we proposed the use of at least one graduate student (preferrably a Ph.D student) to fulfill this purpose. The graduate student will be working in literature research, preliminary fieldwork/ data collection, data mining/ analysis, and proposal writing, among other research tasks, under the supervision of the director and associate director of the Institute.

Technology Transfer Project

    The Institute’s web page will continue to be the principal avenue of information transfer. The digitalization project of all project reports submitted since the inception of the Institute in 1965 (started a few years ago) will continue and all reports will be made available to the public via the web page. New projects will have their dedicated web page, reports will be uploaded and posted as they are submitted and reviewed. Each active project will have its own web page accessible through our main website. Two students, either from the Computer Engineering Department or the Computer Science Program of the Mathematic Science Department at UPRM, will be hired on a part-time basis to assist in the administration and maintenance of the website and in the development of computer applications to assist research activities. The Institute will update, enhance, and expand the short course offering at its summer professional development program. In collaboration with the Center for Hemispheric Cooperation in Research and Education in Engineering and Applied Science (CoHemis) and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies (DCEPS), the Institute will advertise this program in Central and South America. Long-time contacts with colleagues in these countries have demonstrated that there is interest in our Professional Development Program.

Director's Administrative Role

    Dr. Jorge Rivera-Santos will continue to supervise the progress of all research projects and continue to be a liaison between the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and other agencies including the Caribbean, the Florida Water Science Center (CFWSC) and the local office of the US Geological Survey. The Director is a member of the Interagency Committee on Water Resources of Puerto Rico, representing the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. This committee updated the PR Water Resources Integrated Management Plan administered by the PRDNER, later approved and enacted in January 2016. The Institute conducted some studies that have been incorporated as part of this plan. The Director will target other local government agencies to become directly involved with the Institute through the arrangement of “Memorandums of Understanding” (MOUs). Puerto Rico’s government is going through constants changes of administration officials, as mentioned above, and requires that the director be continuously seeking meetings and developing new strategies to get these new officials aware of and involved with the Institute. The Institute Director will be meeting with new officials and continues the efforts to engage new MOUs or reinforce existing ones. These agreements will allow the Institute to become involved in the solution of many of the water-related problems that affect our resources and environment.

We focus our research toward solving water and the environmental resource problems in Puerto Rico, United States and Latin America.
We prepare scientists and engineers throughout on the field research, workshops and courses applied to water resource and environmental engineering
We effectively incorporate the results of research into problem solutions- and this results in professional knowledge to water resources and the environment.
We are focused on finding solutions to the problems in water and theenvironment.
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researchers on boats

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researcher on boat
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