Authorities in Puerto Rico are investigating who caused a diesel spill they say has contaminated the popular Condado lagoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Officials are advising people not to bathe in the Condado Lagoon. The lagoon was one of the locations used for an Ironman triathlete event over the past weekend. It is also a popular spot for swimmers, kayakers and standup paddle boarders. Authorities said the spill apparently occurred late Tuesday. It is unclear how many gallons of diesel were spilled.
The lagoon is part of the San Juan Bay Estuary.
Last year, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padila signed legislation designating the Condado Lagoon, marking a major milestone in the restoration of a body of water once known as the sewer of San Juan.
The lagoon in the heart of San Juan’s tourism sector was once one of the capital city’s main dumping sites for sewage, but it now attracts tourists and has been the site of several Ironman competitions. The lagoon’s calm, clear water has made it the epicenter of standup paddleboarding in Puerto Rico.
The federal government’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last year awarded $40,000 to the Corporation for The Conservation of The San Juan Bay Estuary to remove litter from Condado Lagoon, one of two natural lagoons in Puerto Rico. [. . .] There has been an extensive program to replant mangroves along the shores of the lagoon to create nurseries for young fish and protect the banks from erosion.
A Condado Lagoon Taino Coral Trail and Reef Enhancement Project is a habitat restoration project consisting of 44 artificial reef modules that was constructed following the Morris J. Berman oil spill of 1994. Since the first phase of the Reef Enhancement Project, the number of fish and other species within the lagoon has increased.
But threats to the lagoon remain.