San Diego Coastkeeper Accomplishments

In 2015, San Diego Coastkeeper celebrates our 20th year protecting and restoring fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. That's celebrateable. Our work protects the natural spaces where you live, work and play, and the water resources that fuel our economy, keeping them clean and healthy for 20 more years of enjoyment. We hope you enjoy reading this list of top accomplishments and recognize and reward yourself for supporting this good work over the past two decades. Haven't gotten involved yet or want to ensure the work continues? Donate today to keep these good things coming for San Diego County.



San Diego Coastkeeper helped reduce countywide beach advisories by 77 percent in the ten years since 2000 by improving sewage and urban runoff policies, leading to cleaner, safer water.


We successfully advocated for adoption of strong marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California including Swami's, which is San Diego County's largest MPA as a 12.6-square-mile conservation area, and south La Jolla, a 7.5-square-mile MPA complex that includes a 4.7-square-mile marine reserve where no fishing is allowed.


Pushed the City of San Diego to restrict its use of single-use plastic water bottles and plastic foam products. We played an instrumental role in the nation's first statewide plastic bag ban, which we continue to defend against the lobbyists trying to overturn it.


San Diego Coastkeeper and partner organizations have removed more than one million pounds of debris from area beaches and waterways. Since 2007, we have completed more than 200 beach cleanups and grown yearly volunteer numbers to more than 7,000.


We provided Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) hands-on environmental science lessons and materials to teachers in 160 elementary and middle schools in San Diego, thanks to a partnership with the City of San Diego and San Diego Unified School District, and now added a countywide reach with our STEM “Water Kits.”



Helped build the Water Reliability Coalition to unite diverse interest groups in pursuit of a sustainable water supply in San Diego. We led this coalition to earn a unanimous San Diego City Council vote to reduce ocean discharge from Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and implement a large-scale water recycling system. The plant could supply up to one-third of the city's drinking water needs and will reduce environmentally costly imports from the San Joaquin River Delta and Colorado River.


A San Diego Coastkeeper lawsuit pushed the City of San Diego to invest $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades, which reduced sewage spills by 90 percent. In 2011, our volunteers identified a 1.9-million gallon sewage spill in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, and our action resulted in a $12-million infrastructure investment by the City of San Diego to prevent future spills.


San Diego Coastkeeper's program is the state's largest volunteer water quality monitoring program. It trains around 100 volunteers yearly to test fresh water quality from Oceanside to the Tijuana River, in nine of the 11 watersheds in San Diego County. To date, San Diego Coastkeeper has trained more than 1,000 water quality monitoring volunteers.


  • In 1999, Coastkeeper negotiated with the City of Encinitas, leading it to establish its first stormwater pollution prevention plan.
  • We have strongly influenced regional stormwater permits, and negotiated successful stormwater programs with NASCCO, Caltrans and San Diego County.
  • In 2013 we achieved a unique watershed-based permit that allows cities and agencies in the San Diego region to work together to reduce pollution.


Coastkeeper introduced the region to a new technology that resulted in San Diego County and Senator Marty Block successfully passing a statewide bill that approved faster beach water quality testing. When it's implemented, this process could allow water quality warnings within two to four hours rather than 24 hours.

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Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

With you, we can protect San Diego’s aquatic playgrounds. Gifts of every size help us defend your salty seas and beautiful bays. From test tubes in our lab to hands-on...

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Start Coastkeeping. Become a member today and protect and restore swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in San Diego County.


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If you see someone pollute, report it to Coastkeeper. Let us help you protect your waters.

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Fixable Facts

  • San Diego Coastkeeper's efforts have helped to reduce the number of sewage spills by 90% since 2001.
  • San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation conduct twice-monthly beach cleanups. We work with more than 4,000 volunteers each year.
  • In 2008 and 2009, Coastkeeper and our north county partners successfully advocated for significant fines (totaling $2 million) for spills in Buena Vista Lagoon and Escondido Creek.
  • It's in order: reduce, reuse THEN recycle.
  • Each year Coastkeeper brings together nearly 5,000 cleanup volunteers to remove more than 7,000 pounds of trash.
  • San Diego Coastkeeper has trained over 700 volunteer water quality monitors.
  • A "consent decree" is a legal tool that provides an enforceable timeline and milestones for pollution cleanup and prevention.
  • Coastkeeper volunteers removed over 560 pounds of trash from Mission Bay on a single morning in October 2013.
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2825 Dewey Rd., Ste. 200 • San Diego CA 92106 • TEL. 619.758.7743