July 2015 Progress Report: One year out and counting!
The Fuentes de Vida coalition is pleased to announce that over one year after the completion of the Domingo Maiz waste water treatment system, the constructed wetlands is working great. We knew the first year would be a challenge as the community continued to assume more operational control of the system, the bacteria growing the rocks and plants roots continued to propogate (and therefore sanitize the water more effectively), the macrofita plants grew, and endless troubleshooting.
In short, the Constructed Wetlands as an effective wastewater treatment system has passed its initial test, proving resilient and effective in treating the community’s wastewater. Grupo Puntacana continues to regularly test the treated water for key contamination indicators and work with the community members assigned to oversee the constructed wetlands. As the municipality’s first and only public wastewater treatment system the Fuentes de Vida project continues to serve as a model for future water projects in the area.
July 4th - 7th, Athletes from Virginia Tech University carried out a 5 days sports camp at the Puntacana Ecological Foundation for youth from the worker community of Veron. In total 50 kids from Domingo Maíz attended the camp, where they also participated in an educational program sponsored by Deportes Para la Vida (“Sports for Life”), a local Dominican NGO dedicated to educating kids about HIV/AIDS prevention).
If you are regular follower of the Fuentes de Vida project then you already know that education is a core component of project’s mission. Sanitation and hygiene or just part of the educational scope of the initiative, aside from water related concerns, HIV/AIDS, bullying, women’s rights and environmental projects all are given particular emphasis and the Deportes para la Vida program is a particularly well received annual program by the community both the youths and the parents of Domingo Maiz.
During the first half of July 2015, the Fuentes de Vida Coalition hired a community research expert to carry out an assessment in Domingo Maiz. This third party audit will be completed in the next month and will give a thorough assessment of the community’s adoption of the water system thus far. Armed with this information the Fuentes de Vida Coalition will then assess the possibility of carrying out Phase II of the Domingo Maiz project (installing a potable water system) or continuing to work with the community in the areas they are still lacking before making any further significant infrastructural investment into the community.
This stepwise approach ensures that we invest your generous donations wisely and allocate funds where they are needed most. That being said your continued support is still very much needed and so we ask that you please continue to donate to this project as the real work is only just beginning!
As usual, we have a lot of news to report about the Ridgway’s Hawk Conservation Project. During the nesting season between January and July we are busier than ever with all aspects of Ridgway’s Hawk Conservation. Our holistic approach to conserving this critically endangered species means that we have a very diverse set of tasks to accomplish. We are currently monitoring 90+ pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in Los Haitises National Park. On top of that we are also monitoring 8 pairs of Ridgways Hawks in Punta Cana and the surrounding area. This not only includes finding these pairs and their nests, but also climbing into the nests to monitor the health of nestlings once they hatch. We also help out with a number of hands on management techniques such as repairing nests to keep them from falling and treating nestlings for parasites which can cause high rates of mortality. We have released 26 new Ridgway’s Hawks into the ecological reserve in Punta Cana and our efforts to increase environmental awareness are in full swing with increasingly positive results.
During the height of the breeding season, we received a call from Punta Cana employees stating that they had found an injured Ridgway’s Hawk on the ground. It was a female hawk we had released in the area last year. She had been incubating one egg in her first nest and became infested with a number of parasites which caused her to grow weak. Thankfully, we were able to restore this hawk to health and release her again. The fact that the employees were able to identify the hawk, knew of its importance and went to the trouble to try to save her, shows how far the project has come in educating people about this bird and creating interest and support for the program. Gracias Amigos!!!!
On May 22, we brought 55 students from the communities of Juanillo and Suero Juanillo to the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation for our annual Ridgway’s Hawk Day celebration. Students visited the Ridgway’s Hawk release site and had the opportunity to see a number of hawks up close. They each received a palm tree sapling to plant at home and participated in an art project, decorating their pots with felt and other materials. We then brought the students to the beach for a boat ride along the shore and to participate in a few games teaching them about coral reefs and conservation.
Of the 8 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in Punta Cana that we are monitoring, several have engaged in nesting behavior so far this year. One pair is currently incubating eggs and one pair successfully hatched two chicks. Unfortunately, one of the young chicks died sometime in its first week of life. The second chick is healthy and continues to grow each day. Another pair of hawks spent a long time incubating what turned out to be infertile eggs. As part of our assisted dispersal program, we placed a young chick slated for release into this pair’s nest - a technique called “fostering.” The adults took to the chick right away and did a wonderful job raising a healthy bird. This young hawk successfully fledged on the 5th of May and still doing well to date.
First Global Giving Report of 2015!
While maybe not as exciting as the heady construction phases of 2014, this is now the true test of the Fuentes de Vida wastewater treatment system: the test of time.
Results thus far?
The wetlands treatment system is holding up very well. When normal maintenacne issues occur, the system still operates at a high level – thanks to the water being gravitationally fed and the rocks/plants working to naturally purify the water, the system is proving to be very hardy.
No GlobalGiving report for FDV would be complete without mentioning our project partners Positive Legacy. Once again, on January 26th, concert-goers and volunteers from the Positive Legacy volunteered for a day of service in Domingo Maiz. The day’s service project was to continue painting the mural behind the wetlands system with educational murals, educational sporting activities through Deportes Para la Vida (“Sports for Life”, a local Dominican NGO dedicated to educating kids about HIV/AIDS prevention) and a community wide clean up – all done in typical Positive Legacy fashion; with a community celebration with local musicians playing typical music from the Dominican Republic. The community of Domingo Maiz showed their support by turning out in force with the youth of the community making up the majority of the workforce.
What’s next for Fuentes de Vida?
Moving forward the Ecological Foundation along with its project partners in the Fuentes de Vida coalition will work with the neighborhood association of Domingo Maiz to ensure the wastewater treatment system is operating correctly while simultaneously beginning preparations for the implementation of the potable water system in the community (Phase 2 of Fuentes de Vida). Before making the necessary investment in additional major public works project the neighborhood association of Domingo Maiz must finalize the formation of a water committee in charge of overseeing the maintenance and operation of the water systems – before beginning construction on the potable water system. The Puntacana Ecological Foundation is helping to consult and assist the neighborhood association throughout these organizational processes to better ensure a smooth operation/adoption once construction of the potable water system is complete. We will continue to keep all of you Global Giving Givers up to speed as things continue to advance - it may not be the most exciting thing to hear about incremental progress with community organization and/or a slow hand over of system maintenance to local plumbers but it’s the most important part and we have only just begun. We need your support more than ever.