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Seacology Updates - July 2013

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Far from an electric grid, these Indonesian villagers turn to their river for power

Control room for Sitio Lobo's micro hydro generator
In June our field rep in the Philippines Ferdinand Marcelo hiked into the Tiruray mountains to visit Sitio Lobo, a small community near Lake Sebu, where we funded the installation of a micro-hydropower generator in a nearby river. As he details in his blog, it didn’t take long for him to notice a difference:

“Scarcely had we finished the arduous eight-hour journey up the mountain did we hear television sets and radios from lit homes at Sitio Lobo’s outskirts. At their hearths,  teaming electric rice cookers had replaced rice pots blackened by wood fire, a sharp contrast to my first visit in 2010 when the few signs of electricity were powered either by a leased solar panel home system or a small gas generator.”

The hydropower generator doesn’t just offer clean, renewable energy – it’s proving easy access to electricity for an entire community (something that leased solar panels and small gas generators don’t come close to doing). So far, 80 of Sitio Lobo’s 250 households are hooked up to the grid, and it’s expected that many more will follow once it’s proven to work reliably.
The generator, which debuted in May, is run by a management board comprised of locals called Lubo Renewable Energy and Community Development Association (LURECDA). Since then, LURECDA has been working to install meters to get new people connected while also managing the micro-hydro generator itself – doing maintenance work and regulating water flow to match the community’s demand for energy.
Loading sacks of corn to sell in the lowland markets
Sitio Lobo is a farming community, growing crops like coffee, peanuts, and corn, here being loaded onto a truck to sell in lowland markets.

But according to Marcelo, this is just the start. “The available water is so plentiful that the potential for expansion is undeniable. Should LURECDA manage their operations and finances well, they may be in a position to supply electricity to neighboring villages in the near future – particularly if they are able to save enough to finance the construction of another micro-hydro.” Already they’re talking about how best to expand staff to handle more customers.

We provided funds for the generator plus a fruit tree nursery to support the protection of over six thousand acres of watershed forest in the area. As Marcelo explains, the generator is directly helping this effort: 
“The T’boli and Manobo tribes who reside at the edges of the watershed in the upper reaches of Sitio Lubo are tasked to patrol the forests against poachers and to continue gathering tree seedlings for the nurseries. For their efforts, 10% of the micro-hydro’s monthly net income will be given to them.”

Find more info on the micro-hydropower generator on the Sitio Lobo project page. And read Marcelo’s full account of his visit on his blog, “Nature Calls”.


RSVP for the Seacology Prize Ceremony

You can now RSVP for our Seacology Prize Ceremony with Eventbrite! The ceremony is on Thursday October 3rd, at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley, California. Though it's a free event, seats are limited. We'll announce the winner in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.


Seacology Travel

Cage diving with great white sharks in Mexico
August 17 - 22, 2013
Spend three days off Guadalupe Island on the Solmar V liveaboard vessel swimming in cages with great white sharks. Seacology helped set up a desalination system on Guadalupe Island that delivers fresh water to a small fishing community.View the trip brochure (pdf) for more information.

Balloons over Bagan
October 31 - November 12, 2013
Travel through Myanmar to experience its fascinating past and intriguing present. Journey into the mangrove forests of India's Sundarbans region. View the trip brochure (pdf) for more information.  

Ocean Hole Park


Just a mile inland from the west coast of Eleuthera Island is Ocean Hole Park, a two-acre area containing a "blue hole" -- essentially, a deep inland cave. Old legends have it that Ocean Hole is bottomless and has healing powers, but these days it's a popular visiting spot for locals and tourists who want to check out the marine life or just go swimming. In February, we agreed to help keep the park clean and safe for visitors, and since then they've already installed things like life rings around the Hole in case of an emergency, an observation deck, and signage.
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