The Río Loco Watershed Project (RLWP) began in 2009 as a multiagency effort to support the USCRTF Local Action Strategies (LAS) as identified in the Guánica Bay Watershed Management Plan. NRCS work seeks to address LAS at Río Loco related to land based sources of pollution by reducing loss of coral reef cover through the promotion and application of integrated watershed and land use management practices on agricultural lands.
Two life zones are present within the watershed, the Subtropical Dry Forest and the Subtropical Moist Forest. Both life zones provide important habitat for aquatic fauna; and habitat for approximately 15 federally listed species, two delisted species, two candidate species, and migratory birds. Working with private landowners within the Río Loco Watershed, principally agricultural lands and riparian ecosystems, is vital to maintain ecological functions and values of the watershed system and the species.
NRCS objectives support application of conservation practices to overcome detrimental effects that agricultural lands may have on coastal waters and associated habitats and ultimately, to coral reefs. NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance to eligible land stewards on eligible lands to improve soil conditions and water quality impaired by nonpoint source pollutants, as well as increase the efficiency of water management for agricultural purposes.
The conservation objectives of the Río Loco Watershed Project will be addressed though 2008 and 2014 Farm Bill conservation programs in partnership with federal, state and local agencies and the support of local NGOs. To date, NRCS has allocated more than $3.46 million in funding under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to provide technical and financial assistance to conserve resources on private lands in the Río Loco / Guánica Bay watershed. If you are a landowner or operator who is located in the Río Loco / Guánica Bay watershed and are interested in financial or technical assistance, please contact your local NRCS office for more information.
Damaged section of Río Loco riverbanks in Las Latas, Guánica, before construction.
Damaged section of Río Loco riverbanks in Las Latas, Guánica, during construction.
Panoramic view of the site post-construction.
660 linear feet of Streambank and Shoreline Protection practices were built to restore and protect Río Loco banks flowing through agricultural land in the watershed. The river banks were severely eroded by heavy rains and were contributing excessive sediment to Guánica Bay, damaging coastal and coral reef habitats.
Photos of construction of Irrigation Pond #3 in August 2012
This pond is one of four 4-acre ponds being built as part of the Guánica / Rio Loco project. The pond will collect water from Rio Loco dam to irrigate approximately 2,000 acres of farmland in the Guánica Valley. The use of Rio Loco Dam as a water source will reduce the use of well water from the south aquifer, allowing the aquifer to replenish and recharge. Historically, Rio Loco Dam was the principal water source for Puerto Rico's entire southwest agricultural valley at the time when sugarcane was the primary cash crop. With this project, NRCS is reactivating one of the most important water supplies on the island and increasing water storage for agricultural use.
For More Information
Caribbean Area: Saving streams: Gabions, hard armor, and other techniques - Forester Daily News - March 10, 2016 - A riverbank protection project in Guánica, Puerto Rico, if successful, will be used as a template for similar projects throughout the U.S. Since the beginning of the project, NRCS has committed to protect the coral reefs in the Guánica Bay, designing conservation practices to be applied in the agricultural lands of the Guánica Valley and in three segments of the Loco River to prevent erosion, according to Edwin Almodóvar, director of NRCS Caribbean. - NEW!