Puerto rico government

Government and non-profit partners are building a protective reef

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, August 13, 2022 (ENS) – As part of the Puerto Rico Coral Reef Program, the Puerto Rico Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working with the non-profit organization Arrecifes Condado to develop an artificial reef and beach nourishment pilot project just off the capital, San Juan.

One of the main objectives of the pilot project is to break the waves on the offshore reef that the partners will build rather than breaking on Condado beach.

This will reduce high turbulence and dangerous rip currents associated with drowning and near-drowning events at Condado, a large public-access beach lined with hotels.

Considered a dangerous beach with strong undercurrents, in early 2022 Governor Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia ordered action to be taken to address the problem of multiple drownings there.

The constructed reef is expected to improve the ecosystem for nesting endangered sea turtles, create educational and recreational snorkeling trails, and promote a safe beach environment for practicing water sports.

The non-profit organization Arrecife Condado is a group of concerned citizens of San Juan who have joined a voluntary search for “an ecological and sustainable solution to a situation that affects us all: how to make the beach experience of Condado safer for all beachgoers, restoring and increasing the area’s marine biodiversity, and protecting the beach from increased erosion caused by seasonal extreme weather and rising sea levels,” the group states on his website.

Both the government agency and the nonprofit agree — Puerto Rico‘s vulnerability to storms affects marine life and causes coastal erosion — conditions the artificial reef is designed to mitigate.

The last catastrophic storm occurred on the morning of Wednesday, September 20, 2017, when Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico with sustained winds of 155 mph, uprooting trees, knocking down weather stations and cell phone towers and ripping the roofs off houses. .

Artificial reefs are submerged structures built on the seabed to replicate the characteristics of a natural reef. The pilot project involves the placement of up to eight tons of native rock 100 and 150 meters (328 to 492 feet) offshore in the shape of a pyramid with a section of approximately 50 feet between each of several artificial reefs, allowing marine animals to travel through them.

These efforts will serve to prevent shoreline hardening and other coastal damage, the agency said.

Between 1867 and 2017, Puerto Rico suffered the direct impact of 29 hurricanes, including nine major hurricanes above Category 3, which means winds of 96 to 112 knots, or 111 to 129 mph, or 178 to 208 kph.

The featured image: The golden hour of sunset at Condado Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 4, 2021 (Photo by Edgar Omar)

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