Since the last report was published in July 2013 the Puntacana Ecological Foundation and its project partners made a tremendous push to raise funds from a variety granting organizations and fundraisers to finance the construction of the wastewater treatment system. This portion of the Fuentes de Vida initiative is the necessary precursor to the potable water system and securing access to clean drinking water. With each member of the Fuentes de Vida project team including the Peace Corps, the Punta Cana Bavaro Rotary Club, the community of Domingo Maiz, and of course, the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, collaborating to raise funds from a number of different sources we were able to secure the necessary funds to complete the constructed wetlands water treatment system.
Funding was secured from several granting organizations including: Adventures of the Mind Foundation, USAID’s Small Program Assistance (SPA), Peace Corps Partnership Program, and most notably Positive Legacy. Additional funding was also raised through a generous benefit dinner hosted by the Puntacana Resort & Club with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zacharian preparing a special meal for the donors. Although small compared to the project’s total cost every dollar raised on Global Giving was a tremendous help in advancing the initiative and the Global Giving Fuentes de Vida project page also provides an invaluable forum, which the above groups and individuals were able to reference when considering their support of the project.
Moving forward we are currently receiving bids from contractors to excavate the constructed wetland treatment area and the sewerage (collection) system as well. The Response Peace Corps Volunteer, an engineering specialist with decades of experience developing wastewater and potable water systems all over the world, who helped finalize the system designs and budget earlier in 2013, has returned to the Dominican Republic and is assisting in organizing all of the necessary preparations. We expect to break ground in the next few weeks and are planning on hosting a brief ceremony to inaugurate the project.
As for this Global Giving page we ask that any and all potential donors continue to consider this project for their donations as we still need your help in raising the necessary funds for the potable water and integrated waste management systems. As we mentioned in the project overview section of this page the mission of Fuentes de Vida is to provide community-wide solutions to the most elemental environmental concerns of Domingo Maiz: providing safe drinking water, successfully treating its wastewater, and implementing an integrated solid waste management program to avoid trash collecting in the streets.
The potable water section of the project contemplates implementing a centralized community-wide aqueduct system that will affect the same area as the wastewater treatment system. The well would be equipped with a submersible pump and operate approximately 19 hours per day. The water will be chlorinated as it is pumped into the system ensuring that it is safe for bathing and consumption. The waste management portion of FDV includes purchasing an initial round of 15, 55-gallon, trash containers to be disbursed throughout the community every 200 feet, or 61 meters, as suggested by the community. The neighborhood association of Domingo Maiz is beginning to negotiate with the municipality’s waste hauling company, to establish pick-up times, locations and days for the collection of the community’s garbage. Once this is established the trash cans can be installed throughout the community.
In short, there remains a lot of work to be done and your continued support is crucial to the long term success of the initiative. On behalf of the community of Domingo Maiz and the rest of the Fuentes de Vida project team we would sincerely like to the thank the donors who have so generously supported the project to date and we kindly ask that you continue to support the potable water and solid waste management portions of the initiative . We will be submitting exciting pictures and reports as we begin to break ground and implement the first phase of the Fuentes de Vida project.
On the morning of July 2nd, 2013, staff from The Peregrine Fund acompanied by Dominican biologists climed into the first Ridgway's Hawk nest in Puntacana history. They brought the recently hatched chick safely down to the ground where it was examined, weighed, and fitted with a transmitter and identification band. The chick was identified as a male and found to be in perfect health, weighing in at 320g (about the average weight of a male his age). A blue identification band, with alphanumeric code 44, was placed on his right leg. The placement on his right leg indicates he is a male and the color blue signifies that he was born naturally in the area and not released like the other birds before him in Punta Cana. Shortly after his examination, this young hawk, now known as B44, was carefully placed back in the nest. He immediately started hopping up and down throughout his nest, playing with twigs and becoming more and more rambunctious.
On the afternoon of July 10th, another milestone was reached: B44 took his first flight! As if he had been doing it his whole life he flew from his nest to a coconut palm just across the street. From this day on he became more and more curious about his surroundings and eventually began flying beyond the immediate supervision of his parents. As the days passed B44 began developing predictable flying habits, making it easy for conservations from The Peregrine Fund to locate him - often just by listening for his calls around the nest area. More recently the chick began flying down to the ground to pick up twigs or leaves, which he would then either drop there on the ground or fly off with them only to let go of them later. The chick has also begun to display other interesting habits in which he sits perfectly still on a branch and then all of a sudden snaps into action by flying off and sinking his talons into a nearby palm tree before flying off again. This behavior indicates that he is beginning to fine tune his hunting skills.
Since the last report posted on Global Giving, biologists also managed to capture three of the adult hawks and replace their transmitters. This typically needs to be done once a year and is quite difficult to accomplish. Two hawks managed to evade our trapping methods, one of whose transmitter continues to give off a weak signal. Ultimately it was decided to leave these individuals be until they pair up with another hawk, at which time they will be much easier to capture in order to replace their transmitters. This was the case with the parents of B44 (ND & AV) neither of which had a working transmitter upon being captured at the nest site.
In other news, The Peregrine Fund continued its extensive education campaign by reaching out to new rural communities in the area as well as local businesses that had not previously been contacted. This latest round of educational presentations reached an additional 307 individuals, teaching them about the importance of this magnificent species and our conservation efforts in Punta Cana. In total, The Peregrine Fund has reached out to over 856 individuals this year, by far the most successful educational campaign in the history of this project.
Thanks to the multitude of jobs created by the area's tourism industry, Veron has become one of the main points of migration in the Dominican Republic. While this has been a boom for the area economically, the transitory nature of much of Veron's population presents unique challenges for community development initiatives. This summer the Puntacana Ecological Foundation hosted two timely and in depth university studies in order to better understand these constantly changing communal dynamics in Domingo Maiz before the Fuentes de Vida project breaks ground. First, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) with the help of the Peace Corps realized a detailed community health analysis from May 5 - 12. The survey was developed by Gallop Poll to investigate a broad range of key social and health indicators such as: education, family dynamics, employment history, recent health history as well as communal environmental issues. The survey built upon previous studies executed by Save the Children in different barrios throughout Veron in 2009. The results of the study are being compiled into a final report which will then be shared with the Neighborhood Association of Domingo Maiz by early Fall 2013. This study will serve as a "before" snapshot which will then be followed up with another study after the system has been completed to see if the newly implemented sanitation systems have a quantifiably positive impact on the residents' health - if so then Domingo Maiz could truly serve as a model community for the larger municipality.
The second university study was executed by Virginia Tech's Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE). The Fuentes de Vida project was originally inspired by a 2011 CEE ground water contamination study, which led CEE professors John Novak and Mark Widdowson to recommend the constructed wetland sewage treatment system as an effective vehicle for stemming the flow of effluent water into the community's water source. Since then CEE has continued to be a crucial partner, consulting on every aspect of the Fuentes de Vida project and returning every summer to continue their studies on well water contamination in Veron. Their annual work has produced the most complete database currently available to the community of Veron and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation by identifying contamination hotspots that pose health risks to the residents of Veron. This year's studies examined contaminant levels over time as water is pumped form the well to observe if contamination rates decreased as theoretically cleaner water is drawn from deeper in the aquifer. As with all of its community studies the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, along with the aid of Peace Corps volunteers, communicate the results of these studies back to the community members and well owners as soon as the reports are finalized. The final goal of these studies is not only to better inform the Fuentes de Vida project but to also better educate the community members about potential environmental/health risks in their communities.
In other news, the magazine Good Company recently wrote a piece about Fuentes de Vida and sent down two photographers to document the community and the project. The issue is available now in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Also in recent months, all members of the Fuentes de Vida project have put forward a great effort to raise funds for the construction of the constructed wetland treatment system through grants, fundraisers and awareness campaigns. The community of Domingo Maiz has made it their goal to raise enough money to begin construction before the end of the calendar year, which means your help and contributions via Global Giving could make a huge difference for 500 residents in Domingo Maiz.