Final Report: Green Infrastructure in Protection of Coastal Water Quality

EPA Grant Number: SU835085
Title: Green Infrastructure in Protection of Coastal Water Quality
Investigators: Hertler, Heidi , Fernandez, Carolina , Ramirez-Toro, Graciela , Colon, Jose
Institution: Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Central Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


Land use changes often outpace the ability of natural systems to contain contaminants entering near shore marine systems. Project participants survey land use (cause, effect and extent) in areas with and without green infrastructure (prevention, reduction and elimination); measure contaminants at inflow and outflow areas; and increase their knowledge of land-based sources of pollution in the community to provide solutions to water quality conditions through better management practices in future projects. Our goal is to understand and address the impacts of land-based sources of pollution in sub-tropical dry environments. Our objective is to determine the effectiveness of green stormwater infrastructure on reducing contaminants entering the near shore environment.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

  • Outputs
    • Engage the next generation of students in green stormwater infrastructure design
    • Determine effectiveness of stormwater bioretention green infrastructure in a sub-tropical dry forest at filters of stormwater pollutants before they are discharged to the near shore ecosystem
    • Advance local understanding of green infrastructure as options for improving stormwater quality entering the near shore marine system
  • Outcomes
    • Greater understanding of the impacts of land-based sources of pollution in sub-tropical dry environments
    • Achieve greater community awareness of the importance and feasibility of green infrastructure design
    • Demonstrate effectiveness of green infrastructure in improving stormwater quality entering near shore systems


The Green Infrastructure Master Plan for Parguera proposes a systematic reduction of impacts from sediment and stormwater runoff to the near shore marine systems. There are several large scale propose retro fit green infrastructures currently funded though other sources. As part of this project, students identified sources of contaminants within a small sub-watershed associated with one of these planned green infrastructures. Data suggest that entering stormwater, high in total suspended solids, chlorophyll a, nutrients and microbial indicators, maybe contributing to the relatively poor water quality in that area. Samples were collected during rain and no-rain times at the proposed site and in the adjacent marine system. Through an increased understanding of the importance and effectiveness of green infrastructures, we develop greater local stewardship with the environment and thus meet the goals of the P3 Program of 1.) Maintaining or improving human health; 2.) Advance economic competitiveness; and 3.) Protect and preserve the environment by effectively and efficiently using water, materials, and energy

Supplemental Keywords:

Land use change, land, estuary, ecosystem protection, public policy, decision making, community-based, survey, public good, conservation, environmental assets, environmental chemistry, marine science, biology, ecology, monitoring, measurement methods, Caribbean, EPA Region 2