Almost a year and a half after its completion, the Fuentes de Vida constructed wetlands treatment system is successfully treating the waste water from the community of Domingo Maiz. Water purification rates continue to improve as bacteria have had an extended period to grow on the rocks and roots in the treatment system. The Puntacana Ecological Foundation along with their partners from the Fuentes de Vida Coalition continue to supervise the performance of the system in coordination with the communities’ leaders.
During the month of October, 2015, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) conducted a medical mission in Domingo Maiz in collaboration with Fuentes de Vida leaders. Their assessment collected valuable public health data on a wide range of health issues currently affecting the community of Domingo Maiz. This information will serve to inform the community programs and aid in tailoring the educational campaigns to specific communal practices and resulting physical ailments.
In total, VCOM brought 36 Dominican and North American physicians from a variety of medical disciplines. Most data collected seemed to emphasize high rates of dermatological ailments, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
During last three month the Fuentes de Vida has submitted several proposals to nationally sponsored grants, seeking further investment in the FDV project to extend the educational awareness programs, and extend the infrastructure to other communities.
The Puntacana Ecological Foundation along with its project partners in the Fuentes de Vida coalition has received a formal report from a third party consultant to identify potential areas to better ensure a smooth operation/adoption once construction of the potable water system is complete.
In closing, on behalf of the Puntacana Ecological Foundation and the rest of the Fuentes de Vida Coalition we would like to thank all of you who have donated to the project to date. Moving forward we hope we can count on your continued support for this pioneering project and hope you share this Global Giving Page with anyone you think may be interested in learning about this project.
It is that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of our busiest season is coming to an end. We completed the nest monitoring in the middle of July and at the release site in Puntacana Resort & Club, only a few Ridgway’s Hawks continue to return in the evenings to feed. This does not mean that the work is over until the next nesting and release season. It is actually just a transition into focusing on monitoring the new population in Punta Cana and preparing ourselves for the upcoming season.
Speaking of monitoring, we are tracking more Ridgway’s Hawks than ever – a result of our most successful season this past year in Punta Cana. Not only did we release more Ridgway’s Hawks than ever before (31), we also had a record low number of mortalities with only one confirmed. We credit this incredible achievement to all the hard work we have put into our education program and our efforts to make all the power lines in Puntacana Resort & Club and the surrounding area a safe place for Ridgway’s Hawks. With so many new birds, we have to focus our attention on keeping track of each individual hawk. This allows us to hone in on areas where the hawks are starting to establish territories, and educate community members living nearby and who are most likely to come into contact with these birds. . We also work with locals - providing them with materials and information on building chicken coops - so they can protect their chickens by keeping them in a coop at night or while they are unsupervised. This not only protects the chickens from predation by hawks, but also from other predators such as rats, mongoose, feral cats, snakes and owls. Once people no longer see Ridgway’s Hawks as a threat to their chickens, they can begin to understand how these birds are beneficial to have around.
This past season we found six new pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in the Punta Cana area, bringing the total number of pairs in the new population to eight pairs. This is a major achievement for the project. Four of these pairs attempted nesting in 2015 and one pair was successful in producing the fourth wild young to fledge naturally in the area. In the last report we wrote about one of these nests failing due to the adult female being infested by parasites while incubating a nest. This female has fully recovered and has been returned to the wild. We hope to see her trying to nest again in the coming year. We are very hopeful that we will see even more pairs in 2016, as well as more nesting success and wild hatched young.
Our research in the past few years has showed us that parasitism by bot flies (Philornis spp.) is one of the major causes of mortality in young Ridgway’s Hawks. We have been working very hard to develop treatment protocols that will help us to increase the productivity of the species. This undertaking has been very successful and is allowing us to take larger numbers of hawks from the source population in Los Haitises National Park without having a negative effect on the numbers of nestlings which fledge there. In fact, we are more than tripling chick production in this population. This is great news as it allows us to work faster towards the end goal of having a self-sustaining population in Punta Cana. This year we also embarked on research in order to gain a better knowledge of these parasites. This work is being conducted in a laboratory right here in the Puntacana Ecological Foundation. We hope that in the future we will understand why these parasites are so prevalent and so devastating to some bird populations. Eventually we may be able to use what we learn to implement control methods on a larger scale which could have a positive impact on other bird species both in Dominican Republic and in other parts of the world, as well!!
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!