Local News & Events

Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

San Pancho and Turtle News from Costa Verde Ecological Group

Frank D. Smith - Ecological Group of Costa Verde
March 3, 2015

• Orange dotted lines are the beginning of the beach   
• Light purple rectangle is the old gray-water holding pond  
• Blue lines are the original drainages
• Red rectangle is the old sewage plant
• Yellow line is the hotly contested rock retaining wall
• White lines is the approximate boundary of the old museum property
• The small red/orange lines is the location of a small freshwater spring inside the wall

Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Readers ~

By the end of February, the number of nests recorded increased to 1,236; the number of hatchlings released came to 87,450. By March, only six nests remain in the beach nursery, a small number for this time of year.

While Manuel and I were working on several dune buggy problems (brakes, front axle, etc.), a welder working on a gate next door overheard our conversation and came over to offer his help. We couldn’t believe it. He knew exactly what our problem was and quickly welded up the frame. A test drive later confirmed that his welding had greatly improved the brakes and the performance of the buggy, but the front axle will still have to be replaced this winter.

No change in the volunteer lineup this month. But we still need several more volunteers for the coming season, at least two or three individuals and/or couples. See the latest lineup of volunteers in Schedule. 

Weather-wise: Outstanding temperatures, generally in the high 70°s to mid 80°s, nighttime temps from the mid 60°s to mid 70°s. No unusual weather events. At my house, we did receive 4.25 inches of rain in early February. The outlet to the lagoon was open to the sea for most of the month, and the river has a good flow for this time of the year. February rainfall came to 3.16 inches, 3.3 inches for the year so far.

Been there, done that: Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C., except for a comment below, is not involved in the current battle over the lagoon or either of the sewer plants. Although this is not to say that in the past we had not done our share of work. In the early 90’s, with the help of many donors, the Grupo raised thousands of dollars to have the old sewer plant completely repaired.

On opening day back then, we closed off the raw sewage flowing into the lagoon and turned on the lifting pumps to fill the holding pond. When filled, we turned on the air pump.  After the plant was in operation for an hour, the neighbors demanded that we turn it off because the air pump was too loud and we agreed. When we tried to purchase a quieter pump, we found that it would cost nearly as much as the entire construction project. It was a huge disappointment to everyone as we had no funds to continue.

A little later, we were told that the US government was granting funds to correct pollution problems in México such as air/water/sewage. When we sent in our application to upgrade the San Pancho sewer plant into a modern bio-sewer plant, the application was conditionally accepted. We now had to put together a detailed plan for the plants design, operation, maintenance, materials, cost, etc. After hundreds of hours over the course of nearly three months, we submitted the detailed plan only to have it turned down. (I still have a printed copy of this file gathering dust on my bookshelf today.)

Not to be totally defeated, we then introduced several native species of aquatic plants and fish into the lagoon to filter the sewage and eat mosquitoes but time-and-time-again man-made flash floods washed them out to sea. We didn’t accomplish much but we gave it our best without getting in a fight with anyone.

A little known fact: during the construction of the sewer plant, a large holding pond was excavated between the new plant and the lagoon. The purpose of this pond was to hold the plant’s grey-water. The island near the center of the lagoon is the earth removed to make this pond and it is still in place today. However, Mother Nature had a different idea and storms soon turned the holding pond and lagoon into one body of water, increasing the surface area of the lagoon by nearly 33% and aquatic plants surrounding the sewage pond increased by about the same amount.

To make any changes to the lagoon now (such as moving the hotly contested wall, regardless of whether it’s legal or not) would have the same effect as turning a bull loose in a beautiful Japanese Garden, not once but twice. In time, aquatic plants will cover the wall and nature will do it’s best to heal the rest. If cooler heads prevail, this wall could mark a permanent boundary between man and nature.

Speaking of gardens, the little freshwater spring or lake trapped inside the wall could be turned into a beautiful Japanese Garden, harboring many attractive species of aquatic plants and fish, and with a little tender loving care, could enhance the landscape around the condominium at very little cost.

Town and country wise – The entrance into town has been paved with blacktop from the bridge to the main highway, including lines and a crosswalk. Nice job. The street planters have been removed and to some degree replaced by potted plants, signs, tables and chairs, etc. And as always the San Pancho Music Fest was a wonderful testimonial to the town’s ingenuity and love of music.

Be careful when exchanging US dollars. They’re worth more than you may think, at Costco it was 14.8 per dollar.

While walking on the beach several days ago, I was amazed how today's tourists and townsfolk alike respect our beach as compared to over twenty years ago. In 1992, a group of seventy kids and a handful of adults collected over one hundred and twenty 55-gallon plastic bags of trash off our local beach. Today it would be nearly impossible to fill a single bag in two months.

Next month, an idea on a way to bring a new road into town.

Frank D. Smith, Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Tel. 311-258-4100

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