Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Leah makes this connection here with the article Estuary Cleanup in San Juan Bay which involves economical, societal and environmental issues that surround the San Juan Bay.

A Look at a Historic Day for Puerto Rico’s Tarpon-Filled Urban Lagoons, Estuary cleanup nets 30K pounds of trash and Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Participates in Puerto Rico Estuary Clean Up are three articles that describe the environmental problem in the estuary and the major cleanup that occurred March 16, 2013.  These articles were published in Caribbean Business magazine, Guy Harvey Magazine and Sports Fishing Magazine. These articles discuss the water quality of the estuary therefore belonging in the hydrologic domain. The San Juan Bay is an estuary located next to the Luis Munoz Marine Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico. It has been and is currently used for sports fishing. Some of the fishes that are targeted are tarpons. Unfortunately, this estuary has been the target for dumping trash from the neighbors and more trash has been estimated to drift from the rivers that flow into the estuary and lagoons from the highlands to the south. After Sports Fishing Magazine came to fish in the estuary and wrote an article about how dirty the estuary was, locals and private companies organized a major cleanup. Around 500 volunteers collected around 30,000 pounds of trash. It is a significant amount of trash but the estuary is still nowhere to being clean. This cleanup attracted many private companies to contribute for further investigation and cleaning to preserve the estuary. These articles do not go into major detail about water resources engineering for two reasons: the first-because the writers might not have the expertise to write a full report with the right scientific knowledge and the second- because it is a completely new project that will need further investigation in order to complete a full and detailed WRE report. The article should have included a list of nutrients and contaminants in the estuary rather than just saying trash, and they should have further describes the plan that was in action for the cleanup. Then again, because this is a new project, not much can be expected because not much is known and the general public who read the magazines might also not comprehend if the article went in depth of many other things.

The San Juan estuary attracts tourists for fishing. Therefore it has a great influence on the island’s economy. Being that it is very dirty and polluted it attracts fewer tourists reducing the economic value of the estuary. Environmentally it is affecting the water quality of the estuary affecting the living organisms in the bay and reducing the amount of species available. This has a societal impact as well because polluted waters affect the quality of the drinking water of the surrounding neighborhoods. It also affects the quality of life of those living close to the area and finally the value of the land. If the estuary can be restored it would be beneficial to society, the economy and most importantly the environment. Living organisms will thrive and create a nicer environment that will attract more tourists and will increase the economic value associated with the estuary. Clearly, cleaning up this estuary is only going to bring benefits to the economy, the society and the environment it just requires a little effort, but it will definitely pay off.

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Figure 1: Photograph of people involved in the cleanup and the trash they have found

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Figure 2: Toy Jeep found in the cleaning process.

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Figure 3: Bags full of trash in the cleanup

References

CB Online STaff. “Estuary Cleanup Nets 30K Pounds of Trash.” – Caribbean Business. Caribbean Business, 16 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

Fins, Tony. “Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Participates in Puerto Rico Estuary Clean Up.” Guy Harvey Magazine. Guy Harvey, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

Olander, Doug. “A Look at an Historic Day for Puerto Rico’s Tarpon-Filled Urban Lagoons.” Sport Fishing Articles, Photos & Gear Reviews. Sports Fishing Magazine, 16 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

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