The non-profit organization, San Juan Bay Estuary Program (Estuary), urges the population to participate this year in the twelfth Water Quality Monitoring Day, in accordance with the signed Executive Order # 2020-062 by the Governor of Puerto Rico. Instead of asking them to go out on a certain day, they have been given the opportunity to choose to sample in a body of water close to their community on a day within the period from August 20 to September 20, 2020.
The Estuary obtained a dispensation from the Secretary of the Interior, Hon. Antonio Pablo Batle, to carry out the event this year. To achieve this dispensation, the Estuary established a COVID-19 protocol, which was informed to citizens. All citizens will take the water tests in the company of their family nucleus, with masks, and frequent washing of their hands. They cannot crowd into groups or be stationary at the water sample collection site. Nor is it allowed to carry out its activity on Sundays. Following this protocol is possible due to the nature of the event towards citizen science; which is limited to taking the water sample, evaluating the data, taking notes and sending the results by email to the Estuary.
“Moving forward with this citizen science event is this year was very important to us. Do it in a responsible and safe way, even more so. This event is our opportunity to thank our volunteers and followers for their support in achieving the mission of restoring the water bodies of the San Juan Bay Estuary system. Achieving the dispensation by the Government of Puerto Rico, allows us to achieve a safe event, outdoors and with the family – something that we do not have very frequent given the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on us. ”, Assured Brenda Torres Barreto, executive director of the Estuary.
All these years, the Estuary has trained and empowered more than 10,000 citizens through monitoring the bodies of water near their homes, schools, and recreation areas. To date there are 110 registered groups for a total of 450 participants. On the other hand, academic institutions in key points of the Island come together to take samples following the protocol approved by the USEPA, so that the Estuary can accurately inform the condition of the waters in certain cardinal points of the Island.
The Estuary offers all of Puerto Rico the opportunity to get closer to the water and be part of the care of this natural resource. It is an educational scientific activity for the whole family where participants have the opportunity to know and interact with their environment, take water samples, evaluate it and report on results. This year the Estuary had the collaboration of Mapfre and Farmacias Caney, private companies that contributed to the event.