MPA Update: Implementation Date

Great news from Stockton, CA:
The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation

Great news from Stockton, CA:


The Fish and Game Commission set an October 1, 2011 implementation date for the southern California marine protected areas! The network was designed to protect sea life and habitats at iconic coastal areas like south La Jolla and Swamis, leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.  The new underwater parks, many of which connect to public beaches, will improve access for recreation, study and education while boosting the overall health of our ocean. You can learn all about it on KPBS or in the San Diego Union-Tribune.


If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the protection of your local marine protected area, let us know!  We’re excited to begin a new phase of ocean protection, and we’ll need volunteers like you to spread the word and act out for marine conservation.




Published in Marine Conservation

Coastal Pollution: A Whale of a Problem

Plastic pollution is a big problem for San Diego’s beaches – in fact, you might call it a whale of a problem.  What better way to draw attention to it than with a whale made of plastic?  L’il Gray, a life-size gray whale made from beach trash, will be installed in the hallway of the San Diego Coastkeeper office, and is the star of our show on July 1.  San Diego Coastkeeper will team up with other local museums for one night only to showcase the nautical artwork of tLil_Gray1wo unique local artists.  While you’re here, you can explore the rest of Liberty Station’s museums and shops and enjoy entertainment and refreshment as part of the monthly Friday Night Liberty event.

Marine debris is a major concern for San Diego’s beaches.  Plastic pollution is one of the more problematic kinds, because once plastic makes its way into the ocean, it does not biodegrade, but instead just breaks into smaller pieces that can be mistaken for food by aquatic creatures.  They also make their way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , joining the other 3.5 million tons of plastic pieces in a soup out there.  Help Coastkeeper raise awareness of the issue by attending our Coastal Pollution: A Whale of a Problem.

The artists:

•    Teresa Espaniola is the artist who coordinated L’il Gray.  This artist collects trash from the beaches near her home and uses it in her gARTbage series.  She also works with children to teach them about marine debris and plastic pollution through art.

•    Myles McGuinness is a color photographer.  His work has appeared in American Advertising Federation (AAF), California Surf Museum, National Geographic, The Surfer’s Journal, Surfing & Surfer magazines and most recently in the Communication Arts 2010 Photo Annual. He is also the creative mind behind San Diego Coastkeeper’s website and annual report.

Join us on July 1, 2011 from 5:00-8:00pm at the Coastkeeper office at 2825 Dewey Road Suite 200, San Diego CA 92106 to mingle with Coastkeeper art aficionados and beach activists alike.  Enjoy light refreshments and music while meandering our hallway and perusing the art. Photo Credit: Nick Morris for North County Times

Published in Marine Debris

Where does San Diego’s water come from?

If you have lived in San Diego for any length of time, you have probably noticed that it doesn’t rain very often here.  Yet if you look around, you’ll find you’re surrounded by lawns and swimming pools.  Where does the water come from to support all of this?  The short answer – not here.  San Diego County is a dry one, where a few isolated areas, the wettest in the county, get up to 45 inches of rain per year.  The driest gets nine.  San Diego city, where Coastkeeper is located, gets between nine and twelve inches per year.  Compare that to Northern California, where the wettest areas get up to 125 inches annually and where 40 to 75 inches is not uncommon. See this map for a breakdown of the annual rainfall in San Diego County, and this one for the average annual rainfall in California.  


Image Credit San Diego County Water Authority, Sources of San Diego County’s Water Supply

San Diego’s limited amount of rainfall, in addition to other local sources, only accounts for about 20% of its water supply.  (Local supply includes surface water, or lakes and streams; groundwater; recycled water, also known as ‘purple pipe’; and conservation.)  The other 80% must be imported.

The Colorado River, source of half of San Diego County’s water, was first allocated in 1922 in the Colorado River Compact.  The Compact divides the usable flow of the Colorado River – 7.5 million acre-feet (an acre flooded a foot deep) – between the Upper Basin (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), and the Lower Basin (Arizona, California, and Nevada).  Each basin subsequently divided its portion among its member states, assigning each state a number of acre-feet for its entitlement.  This is important, because that assigned number for each state stays the same no matter how much water is actually in the river.  Problems have arisen since the original apportionment due to both simple squabbling over who should have the bigger slice of cake, and more problematically, because the cake isn’t actually as big as it was thought to be when it was apportioned.  The 7.5 million acre-foot “total” that can be taken without harm to the river was measured during a wet year, and so when the states use their allocated amount of water, they use more than the river can spare.

The State Water Project has its own set of problems as a water source.  The water ultimately comes from the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta.  The Delta is currently overdrawn, menacing the seven endangered and threatened fish species that call it home.  One in particular has served as the poster child for the recent Delta debates – the Delta smelt.  It’s a small fish, easily held in the palm of the hand, and its susceptibility to pollution makes it a good water quality indicator.  Concern for the species’ survival helped push through the Delta Plan, new legislation from November 2009 which puts conservation of the Delta on par with providing more reliable water supply to Southern California.  This has the effect of reducing the water transferred to Southern California – good for the fish, but inconvenient for the humans.

The humans have always had a bit of a problem with water supply in Southern California.  They have refused to recognize its limits, preferring instead to rely on massive water relocation projects to meet their needs.  This is not a sustainable path – there are very few other places we can take water from.  We need to start learning to conserve and live within our limits.   Visit for some ways to conserve.

Surf & Turf Running Event: Help Protect the Ocean

Let’s face the facts, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated for a gym sesh. But here in sunny San Diego we really don’t have an excuse to be inactive. Our county offers so many fun and relaxing outdoor activities that we can do all year long. So now that it’s officially summer, it’s time to get moving so you can squeeze into that tiny bikini! Hooray!

Sport Psychology and Wellness Counselor Erin Bartelma of BE Balanced Studio created a way for us San Diegans to get fit and healthy together while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of our outdoor environment. Three years ago Erin celebrated her birthday by inviting family and friends to join her for the “Surf & Turf,” which involved a run on Torrey Pines State Beach followed by surfing in Del Mar.

Over the past three years, Erin expanded her vision and brought on additional Surf & Turf team members Lisa Bercik, Sarah Alexander and Shari Baurle to help the event reach a wider audience and positively impact our environment. The team wanted Surf & Turf to enable people interested in healthy lifestyles to come together and promote not only personal wellness but also support efforts to create a healthier environment. San Diego Coastkeeper’s staff is comprised of scientists, lawyers and environmental experts who are also surfers, snorkelers, runners and bikers dedicated to protecting our coastal environment–making them the perfect organization to benefit from the event’s first grassroots fundraising efforts.

The Third Annual Surf & Turf is on Saturday, June 25, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Cardiff Reef, and includes a 5K run/walk, beachside yoga with Lauren Duke of Green Flash Yoga, recreational surfing and beachside games with small prizes for the 5K run/walk. Participants are welcome to participate in one or all of the day’s activities. Registration is free but participants are encouraged to buy a Surf & Turf t-shirt for $20 (designed by artists Ash Francomb and Kris Boline of the Green Flash Gallery in Cardiff) with all proceeds going to San Diego Coastkeeper.

Come Surf & Turf & help save the environment with us!

Top 5 Reasons to Celebrate World Oceans Day

Its that time of year again! Next week we will celebrate our favorite holiday, World Oceans Day! On June 8, the world will take a moment to recognize the ocean and all of its greatness. There are thousands of reasons to join in on the celebrations. Since I do not have time to create a list of a thousand, here’s five to get you amped on Oceans Day!

1. Raise awareness for the World’s Oceans: Whether you live in San Diego or China there are issues facing our world’s oceans that need attention. This national holiday will help raise global awareness of the challenges our oceans face and help people get the information to get involved!

2. Oceans give us life: Oceans are essential to food security, climate control and are a critical part of our biosphere.

3. Oceans are awesome: Not only are oceans essential for survival, they play a huge role in fun, especially here in San Diego! What would the world be without “sick days” (aka beach days), surfing and snorkeling?!

4. Help conserve our oceans: Not only does World Oceans Day spread the word about the needs and challenges facing our oceans, it also gets people to be proactive about conserving our coasts and oceans. There are tons of things you can do to help. Attend a beach clean up, buy sustainable seafood or become a Coastkeeper member!

5. You can party with us! It’s no secret that we love the ocean.We want you to join in on all our fun by participating in a week long party to celebrate our world’s oceans.

  • World Oceans Day: Go blue with Coastkeeper and our official celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8. Come out to Hennessey’s in La Jolla and enjoy live music, a tasty meal and even learn how we conserve beautiful places like La Jolla’s ASBS. Enjoy a beer for the ocean from 6-9 p.m.
  • Give our ocean the best gift you can give by picking up trash and debris along the coast. Join us at Buccaneer Beach Cleanup June 11 at 9 a.m. Help clean up one of Oceanside’s most prestigious beaches and celebrate the beauty of the sea.

Everyd ay Coastkeeper celebrates our local ocean by preventing plastic pollution with beach cleanups, conserving areas of special biological significance, monitoring waterways for toxic chemicals and much much more.

Happy World Oceans Day everybody!!

Reusable Water Bottles From San Diego to London

coastkeeper-water-bottle-3How do you give your friends from London a proper tour of San Diego while they’re here on holiday? Make sure they hit all the best beach spots, check. Show ’em a good time downtown, check. Don’t allow them to fly back across the pond without catching a Coastkeeper screening of the film Tapped, also check.

One night during their stay last year, Sunny, Anoop and I took the ride up to La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas to check out Tapped. It was the first time any of the three of us saw the documentary which depicts the vast array of negative impacts the bottled water industry has on our environment, as well as our wallets. To boot, the flick has a pretty decent soundtrack.

Sunny and Anoop returned recently for another stay in America’s Finest City. As we’re catching up, Anoop told me about the profound impact Tapped had made on him. “The movie incensed me. I had no idea about the unethical practices about taking free water from the ground and selling it back. Every one has a basic right to water, no one should pay for it, especially when millions are dying from dehydration around the world”. You said it man.

Anoop goes on “When we got home from our SD trip, we immediately bought metal containers for ourselves and all our immediate family. When people inevitably ask me about mine, I immediately tell them everything about plastic, the water industry and the Pacific Garbage Patch. In addition, I wrote to my local council asking them to stop buying bottled water, and start using filtered water, if anything for financial reasons.”

Sunny’s family just recently opened a boutique hotel in London. The place is chock full of reusable water bottles on the house, making it so simple for guests to abstain from plastic. They’re also registered members of an interactive UK database that directs all folks, not just hotel patrons, for a free water refill.

Dang, talk about San Diego Coastkeeper making a global impact!

How should this effect us living here in San Diego? Simple, our backyard is the Pacific Ocean. It’s got enough plastic already swimming in it. Let’s do our part to not perpetuate this awful trend. Continue to use your aluminum water bottles. If you don’t have one become a Coastkeeper member. We’ll gladly hook you up as a thank you.

Furthermore, we each have a voice. Let’s use it! Tell your friends, family and local politicians. Shout it out loud I BOTTLE MY OWN.

Published in Marine Debris

Bathroom Water Quality: What’s in a bowl?


Test results from our homework assignment to show what we’ve learned at Coastkeeper.

On March 15, my co-intern Noah and I had to do a school project that utilizes some things that we have learned and done so far here at San Diego Coastkeeper. As interns, we are responsible for analyzing and producing all the data graphs you see on the water quality wiki. We decided to measure the bacteria count in the water in our bathrooms. Once we had the results, we would then compare our two houses to each other and to the bacteria levels in the waters around San Diego County.

Once Noah and I collected some water samples from our sink, toilet bowl and the toilet tank, Travis, Coastkeeper’s water quality lab coordinator, helped us analyze for E. coli and enteroccoci.

The results were somewhat surprising. All results were below the minimum level that the test can show, with the exception of samples taken from one of our toilet bowls (the actual owner to remain anonymous). One of our toilet bowls showed an E. coli level of 648.8 MPN/100 ml. This level of EColi is comparable to the February results from one of the Tijuana River sites. According to the field data sheet, the sample site also contains “lots of trash (including: a bowling ball, a boat, 3 deflated soccer balls, Styrofoam).”

Feel free to check out water quality data for other watersheds in San Diego. And read more about “gross water” on Coastkeeper’s blog.

How to Make Green Beer

greenbeerI am a good Irish girl. My name is Megan. I love green. And for St. Paddy’s Day I will drink green beer. Not green colored beer because frankly the thought of that makes me a little woozy (and if I’m going for a green tongue, I might choose Pixy Stix instead). I’m not sure the environmental implications of a green Charles River, but I’m all for eco-friendly beer and whiskey: Local, Organic, Sustainable.

Think global, act local. Join a CSA. Become a locavore . These are pretty familiar concepts amongst the eco-conscious consumer and San Diego’s beer scene is exploding so “local” offers a huge range of craft beer. There are more than 25 local brewers (including my friend Graham) and you can find it in every neighborhood. Whether it’s for St. Paddy’s Day or on an average night out, check out the San Diego Brewer’s Guild and its list of brewers and affiliate pubs.

Lots of people are eating organic these days, but what about drinking organic? The North American Organic Brewers Festival in San Francisco would be an excellent way to eat, drink and be organically merry this June. In the meantime, I’m a fan of Deschutes Brewery and Santa Cruz Uncommon Brewers’ Bacon Brown Ale sounds…interesting. If you want easy: BevMo carries Brasserie DupontForet Organic Saison Ale.

Kona Brewing Company’s Oceanic Organic covers both Organic and Sustainable. And if you are lucky enough to live in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i…well you hit the green beer trifecta. Kona and Coastkeeper joined forces this year to bring delicious beers to our events and support for our clean water programs. We’re super stoked about it because Kona exemplifies the way that business decisions can reduce the environmental impact of things we consume. Disposable cups Kona uses at events are biodegradable and to-go containers are compostable. The brewery reclaims thermal energy in the brewing process. The pub recycles the heat from its air conditioner to heat water in the kitchen and condensation from the air conditioning systems for landscaping irrigation. They’ve reduced the amount of material in their packaging to reduce the weight and, thus, the carbon footprint for shipping.

Remember, whatever your St. Patrick’s Day ritual is, green beer goes with everything

It Takes a Village to Restore a Watershed

volunteer-city-heightsThe Pueblo Watershed is full of diversity in every form possible.  Each neighborhood that stretches along Chollas Creek includes different ethnicities, religions, cultures, music and food.  Whether you’re crossing from North Park to City Heights, or South Park to Barrio Logan, traveling a few blocks in any direction brings you to a completely different community.

Just like the diversity of the people, the watershed encompasses all kinds of ecological communities.  Salt marshes and tidal creeks near San Diego Bay transition to riparian streams which spread into coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities in the finger canyons.  And to me, the true beauty of this watershed is how it provides pockets of nature for the communities to enjoy.  The Pueblo Watershed is very densely populated, and the creeks and canyons provide pockets of nature for tons of people to enjoy.

Because it’s such a densely populated watershed, the creeks and canyons are threatened by trash, polluted water, invasive plants and even illegal activities. The canyons often provide cover for drug use, homeless encampments and gang violence.

walk-watershedOn February 5, more than 300 community members volunteered for the 3rd annual Walk the Watershed. Volunteers took educational tours to learn about the local ecology and volunteered for a variety of projects including cleaning out over 1000 pounds of trash, planting native plants, removing invasive plants and creating a rainwater capture system for the local elementary school. The event wrapped up with a tamale lunch, an address from Councilmember Tony Young and a dance performance from local students.

The event was a huge success, and like the diversity that makes up the watershed, it took a diverse group of community organizations coming together to have such a positive impact.  We partnered and planned the event with Ocean Discovery Institute, Elementary Institute of Science, Outside the Lens, Transcendance, San Diego Canyonlands and the City Heights Canyon and Community Alliance.  We had a bunch of community groups that brought students and volunteers from throughout the watershed.

The event wouldn’t be possible without the support of all the funders. For us, we owe a huge thanks to Think Blue, City of San Diego and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Ten things I hate about plastics

dsc00072-sAbout a year ago, I started noting everyday products in my life that have some amount of plastic in them. Do you know what I realized? It’s in virtually everything. For practical purposes, I can justify the need for plastic in some products, like this keyboard I’m using to type or the brake levels on my commute bicycle, but it’s the single-use, made-for-convenience plastic items that get thrown away (or hopefully recycled) that cause a little painful feeling deep in my soul. Each day I work at allowing less of those items to creep into my daily life and try to help those around make similar choices. And in that time, I have also developed this list of the top ten reasons I hate plastics.

10. They are expensive.
They may seem cheaper at first, but over time, the cost of disposable plastic items adds up. How many Zip-Loc bags do you use in a year when reusing one food container could work? Or how many bottles of water would you buy versus one reusable stainless steel container?

9. They make nature ugly.
I will never forget swimming in the La Cove last year when my swimming partner and I couldn’t tell if the thing floating around us was a plastic bag or a jellyfish. Is trash so common now that we accept it as a part of our outdoor reality?

8. It’s everywhere.
At Christmas this year, every single item my nieces and nephew unwrapped had plastic in it. What happened to the years of wood construction sets and glass marbles? Plastics have infiltrated everything—food containers, cigarettes, clothing, housewares, beauty products, cars, etc.

7. Many are single-use.

Shoppers worldwide use 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags per year. That’s about a million bags every minute across the globe. Why?

6. They make us lazy.
That’s why. Why bring your own reusable shopping bag when the store will give you a free disposable one? Why struggle with remembering to wash and bring home your lunch container, when you can just throw away the plastic baggie?

5. They are made of oil.
Our dependence on oil is an everyday conversation, but it goes beyond the gas we put in our cars.

4. More than 60% of marine debris is plastic.

3. Birds and fish think they are food.
Have you seen Chris Jordan’s photos showcasing the massive amounts of plastics inside the stomachs of dead birds?

2. They do not biodegrade.
Plastics break down in a process called photodegrading, which means they simply break apart into ever-smaller pieces, eventually forming “plastic dust.” Through this process they release chemicals and toxins, which have many harmful effects to the ocean.

1. Because we have other choices.
Do you make them

Published in Marine Debris