During the second week of October, Surfrider Foundation Rincón and Ridge to Reefs collaborated on an intensive survey of the watersheds that drain into the area of the municipal public beach and Reserva Marina Tres Palmas, focusing on a chronically polluted Quebrada, or creek, that the Chapter has dubbed Quebrada Sin Nombre. The Chapter has been testing the discharge of freshwater from this Quebrada onto the beach on a weekly or bi-weekly basis since early 2014, and on nearly every occasion, their results show extremely high levels of bacteria. See the Chapter's water quality results here.
The Chapter had dual purposes for hosting the pollution screening blitz. Their main intent was to start identifying and mapping out possible sources of pollution to inform a remediation plan, but the event turned out to be a great community outreach tool that allowed local students and community members to learn about the Chapter's Blue Water Task Force water testing program, and participate in the scientific sampling techniques and field work used to provide valuable water quality information locally.
Ridge to Reefs generously donated a state-of-the-art field testing kit for detecting ammonia pollution to the Chapter, and both groups intend to continue surveying further into the watersheds to identify contamination sources. The interactive map generated by this initial effort is available online here.
This new partnership will greatly enhance the Chapter's ongoing research collaborations with UPRM and CariCOOS, quantifying & modeling bacterial sediment transport and erosive forces along the coastline of Northwest Puerto Rico, and bacterial contributions of rainfall runoff from hardened surfaces vs natural surfaces into the near-shore waters. The common goal, as always, is to find solutions that ultimately result in better water quality for the beaches and reefs.