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Property Transfer in Cataño Area Adds Valuable Land for Preservation to Las Cucharillas Marsh

Release Date: 11/24/2004
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(#04177) - SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the Bacardi Corporation has transferred 10 acres of land in Las Cucharillas Marsh to the Universidad Metropolitana for a land preservation project. The land, which contains mangrove forests and wetlands will be perpetually maintained as an environmentally-protected area through deed restrictions and covenants consistent with a Land Management Workplan that was developed for this project. The donation is part of a larger Cienaga Las Cucharillas Environmental Project.

"This project reduces pollution and protects valuable ecosystems and endangered species that live in the watershed by preserving areas of the Cucharillas marsh as a natural, open space," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Preserving this land reduces risks to the environment by protecting it from industrial or commercial development."

The Land Preservation Project was designed by EPA, Bacardi and Universidad Metropolitana, and has support from several community environmental organizations. It ensures future social and environmental benefits for the Cataño community and the San Juan Metropolitan area. Universidad Metropolitana will preserve and manage the land according to a contract with Bacardi that has been approved by EPA. The land donation is part of a Supplemental Environmental Project developed by EPA as part of a settlement of a Clean Water Act complaint against Bacardi.

The transferred land, valued at about one million dollars is located in the sensitive watershed of Las Cucharillas marsh in Palmas Ward, Cataño. Las Cucharillas Marsh is located at the intersection of the municipalities of Cataño, Guaynabo and Bayamon and covers approximately 1,236 acres, consisting mostly of wetlands. It includes mangroves, forests, wetlands and open water areas. The marsh serves as a flood plain for the Santa Catalina, Lajas and San Diego creeks, which run into the San Juan Bay through the Malaria Channel. It also acts as a sediment and nutrient filter for runoff waters before they reach the San Juan Bay. Las Cucharillas Marsh is part of the San Juan Bay Estuary Watershed.

This environmental restoration project is part of a settlement that was reached by EPA with Bacardi for violations of its wastewater discharge permit under the Clean Water Act, at its Cataño, Puerto Rico facility.