Yesterday, a student attorney and I had the opportunity to go out on the water with a game warden from the Department of Fish and Game. The day’s goal was to investigate effective methods to patrol our local marine protected areas, or MPAs. For those unfamiliar with the designation, MPAs restrict fishing and harvesting of marine life to allow the ecosystem to rejuvenate. The new MPA designations in Southern California came into effect January 1, 2012, and the legislative goals for the MPAs include protection, conservation, and rehabilitation of our marine resources. Great public policy, and great for the ocean.
Enforcing the MPAs will be critical for their long-term success. Coastkeeper intends to work with the Department of Fish and Game and local law enforcement and prosecution agencies to ensure success. For example, marine debris and lobster poaching have been identified as a couple important issues, and we look forward to being involved in crafting creative, effective solutions to these challenges. Collaboration with other environmental and governmental agencies will also likely drive our work going forward. And ultimately, we hope to build relationships with anglers, who are the most persistent eyes and ears on the water. It is an exciting time, ripe with opportunities to set a game plan for the future.
Our friend with the Department of Fish and Game reminded us, however, that poaching problems are not just limited to the MPAs. No different from years in the past, a few “bad apple” lobster fishermen will probably set baited lobster traps before the season begins. This issue goes beyond MPAs, and early traps might be found anywhere lobster fishing happens. This is not only unfair to good, honest fishermen, but also illegal. So, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone, and especially divers, who see lobster traps set with bait to let the Department of Fish and Game know — they have asked for your help! Early baiting can only happen until Tuesday (commercial lobster season opens Wednesday, October 3 ), so keep an eye out on your weekend dive. Enjoy the ocean this weekend, and do your part to take care of it!
Follow this link to see a photo of real lobsters in a trap: www.oceanlight.com/spotlight.php?img=10138
To report a baited trap: 1-888-CalTIP
For information about lobster season: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/calendar.asp
For DFG’s mobile site with maps and contact info: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mobile/
The Water Quality Monitoring Lab here at San Diego Coastkeeper is proud to announce our 2009-2010 Watershed report. It’s taken us a while, but we have crunched down the data that our volunteers and partners have collected. You can read the full report here.
Here are some highlights–
Coastkeeper data consistently points to ammonia, phosphorus and Enterococcus as the most widespread pollutants in San Diego County. Below I have attached a table (that is not in the watershed report) that shows percent of samples that exceed Basin Plan standards during the 2009-2010 period covered in the report. The color coding highlights the problem areas. As you can see, every watershed in San Diego struggled with ammonia, Enterococcus and phosphorus concentrations.
The very beginning of the watershed report highlights the impacts of urbanization and the water quality degradation due to watersheds becoming impervious. Every chapter in the report tells a similar story:
- Los Penasquitos: Rapid development since the 1970s has led to high levels of total dissolved solids and fecal indicator bacteria during both the wet and dry seasons. The fragile Los Penasquitos Lagoon is filling up with sediment transported by the flows that have increased over 200% in the past 30 years. A TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) has just been written to try to limit the amount of sediments flowing into the lagoon.
- Pueblo: “The dominance of hard surfaces drives many of the urban runoff problems in the creek, which in turn contributes to the degradation of water quality in San Diego Bay.” Nutrients, bacteria and trash are major problems in this watershed. These three constituents are very strongly correlated with development. This watershed is our most developed and is mixed residential, commercial and industrial development. Pretty much all of Chollas Creek is channelized or driven underground. The natural hydrology has been greatly disrupted. The water flows are quickly pushed into the creek and into the bay with almost no chance of remediation.
- San Luis Rey: Our least developed watershed, yet it still has problems. While half of the watershed is open space, agricultural (cattle grazing, nurseries, citrus and avocado groves) and residential each account for about 15 percent of the watershed. This high amount of agriculture is probably responsible for the high nutrient concentrations we see. This river is home to historic steelhead trout runs, but habitat degradation threatens the dwindling number of these salmonids.
- Tijuana: Not surprisingly the worst watershed in the county, in terms of water quality. Poor infrastructure across the border accounts for the vast majority of water quality problems in this watershed.
Other reports have established a strong relationship between percent developed and stream health.
We encourage the municipalities in San Diego to work closer with Coastkeeper, our members and our volunteers to continue to identify priority pollutants. Our input is a valuable component to protecting and restoring clean water in San Diego County.
These priority pollutants can be tied to development of the watershed and traditional storm water practices. Old school stormwater management was more concerned with flood control than water quality. The goal was to move stormwater away as quickly as possible. This is why you see many channelized rivers in San Diego. These allow us to push water quickly to the ocean. Unfortunately, this also limits the landscapes ability to rid itself of pollutants. Nutrients are not able to be taken up by plants as sediments with pollutants bound to them are not able to settle out.
Research shows that LID (low impact development) can remediate many of the problems that development has introduced. See “Widespread application of LID across basins will result in much needed pollutant concentrations.” LID irestores natural hydrologic processes to our disrupted system. LID works, and it looks nice also. Not only would it help with our water quality problems, we would reconnect our neighborhoods with their waters.
Collecting all this data is not easy, and our volunteers and groups like Surfrider San Diego and Golden State Flycasters have dedicated many many hours to it. We would like to thank the dedication and the tireless work our volunteers and project partners have put in over the years.
For years, shipyards dumped pollutants into the sediments of San Diego’s waters.
Since the approval of the cleanup plan, they’ve been good about listening to our feedback on how to cleanup the problem, but they haven’t been good about listening to yours.
The Remedial Action Plan, adopted back in March, set forth a strong cleanup order to get metal discharges and other pollutant wastes out of the sediment. The plan outlined how the shipyards were to dredge without harming water quality, and to make sure no more pollutants end up in our water. It has specific goals for these shipyards to reach. And the shipyards have done a good job at incorporating our feedback on how to reach those goals.
But why aren’t they incorporating your feedback?
The Shipyard Sediment Site Group needs a new communication plan. The current one isn’t cutting it. Right now, their plan is to essentially to direct people over to the Water Board’s site, which is full of lengthy PDFs that do nothing but confuse the average citizen.
In their current Community Relations Plan, the group acknowledges, “the community needs to have access to information and have the opportunity to understand how the remedial action may affect them.” Acknowledging that is great, but making sure it happens is the only thing that matters.
The Shipyard Sediment Site Group needs its own website, one that’s constantly updated with information on everything the group is doing. Simply sending out newsletters doesn’t get the job done. The “Potential Community Relations Tools and Materials” in the current Community Relations Plan lists advertisements, information displays, blogs, comment databases, presentations, briefing packets, and a website to name a few. Where are they?
The Shipyard Sediment Site Group is starting to make progress, and Coastkeeper is appreciative that they’ve been responsive to our feedback. But without a strong community relations plan, the public, who are the real stakeholders, has no way of giving their input in this case. The public needs to be able to see the changes that are happening, and comment on them. This is a two-way street.
What do you think the Shipyard Sediment Site Group can do to better increase community input?
Teaching science for over 5 years, I found we have ingrained conservation into the minds of our students. From third grade to college, they can rattle off a laundry list of ways they can make a positive impact on our environment. Things like turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, biking to work, taking reusable bags shopping, turning off the lights when you leave a room–it’s music to an environmental educator’s ears. After a few months of hearing this list repeated over and over again, my questions changed from “what can we do?” to “how does it help us?”
We need to conserve our water. Phrases such as “it’s bad to waste electricity, we can’t use up all of our oil, we want clean beaches” are not bad but not exactly convincing either. For my third graders, I’ll let it slide. But I’m going to press the rest to think harder. We know these actions are good for the environment. But what about us? Where is the immediate return on our sacrifices and investments?
It turns out that environmental responsibility is economic responsibility.
I recently moved from Miami where I had two roommates. I diligently unplugged electronics not being used, took short showers, washed my clothes in cold water and turned off the lights when someone left them on. It was a running joke that I was the only one of the roommates who did this. I took it in stride as our electric bill for three of us was under $70 per month. I moved away in June, but the last electric bill was sent to me by mistake. With only two living in the same apartment and no one turning everything off, the bill was almost $25 more.
If $25 really isn’t a big deal to you then multiply by 12. If you still can’t think of anything you’d rather spend $300 on, get in touch with me. I’ve got some great suggestions.
At San Diego Coastkeeper, we are focused on protecting our water resources in San Diego County. In exchange for your short showers, running full loads of laundry and watering the lawn at night, you get a nice discount on your next water bill. Heating the water adds to your electric bill, so consider that next time you find yourself lingering in the scalding hot shower to ponder the meaning of life.
Just how much are you going to save with environmental responsibility? It costs about 15 cents for a 10 minute shower in San Diego. One shower a day makes it $50 a year. If San Diego water rates increase by the projected 50% in the next 5 years, one person could be looking at nearly $75 a year. That’s just for showers and not counting the cost to heat the water.
Taking a 5 minute shower (enough time to belt out two of your favorite songs in their entirety) would reduce the cost to below $40 for the year. Even with the project price increase.
So why should we care about doing the right thing? Aside from being an environmentally responsible action, it is more often than not better for your wallet. Each time we cut our reliance on a resource, from oil to water, we minimize demand and the reward falls to you. And it’s not just water and electricity. It extends to our fuel consumption, urban planning and development, and single-use plastics. Changing our behavior to do what’s best environmentally isn’t easy, but it just might benefit you quicker than you think.
Not to mention, it feels pretty good to do the right thing.
Urban runoff is San Diego’s #1 pollution problem. Because San Diego gets rain so infrequently, pollutants build up on the land over time. When it rains, those pollutants are carried into our storm drains and out to our creeks, rivers, bays and ocean. This pollution harms water quality, making it unsafe to swim and impacting the health of the wildlife that live in our waters.
Urban runoff is a frustrating pollution problem to tackle because it comes from so many different sources. But just because it’s a difficult problem to solve doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
In fact, that’s exactly what San Diego Coastkeeper and dozens of other stakeholders from San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties have been doing for the past month. Led by the staff at the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, stakeholders from all three counties have gathered at three all-day meetings to address urban runoff.
The Regional Board is in the process of re-issuing the municipal stormwater permit required under the Clean Water Act that is the primary mechanism for cities to address stormwater issues. As part of the permitting process, the Regional Board convened a series of roundtable discussions to discuss how we can best use limited resources to see the biggest water quality improvements. A limited number of seats were allocated to representatives from cities in each county, environmental stakeholders, business stakeholders, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The meetings are open to the public, and each of the meetings has been attended by approximately 50 people. (Click here for the meeting schedule for the remaining meetings.)
These professionally moderated meetings provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to give feedback to the Regional Board staff about how the permit can allow, and in some cases compel, cities to improve their programs to tackle urban runoff issues. They also give stakeholders an opportunity to dialogue with eachother to search for common ground and common solutions.
The stakeholder meetings have fostered creative alternative approaches and encouraged stakeholder collaboration outside the formal meetings. San Diego Coastkeeper has met with representatives from the San Diego regional monitoring workgroup to discuss collaboration and ways to ensure that the data collected by our volunteer water quality monitoring program is used and useful.
We have also begun discussions with the City of Del Mar about how we can adapt our volunteer Pollution Patrol program to collect information that will help curb urban runoff in Del Mar.
As we continue through the process of developing the new stormwater permit, one thing becomes clear: everyone has a role to play in helping reducing pollution and keeping our waters clean. Over the next few months, as we refine and develop our Pollution Patrollers program, we will be calling for volunteers to step up and be the “eyes and the ears” out around the county looking for pollution problems. For those who can’t commit to formal patrols, we ask that everyone get informed about what urban runoff looks like and learn how to report problems when you see them in your everyday life. Our only hope of tackling this pollution problem is if all of us work together.
I don’t wear brands. (I’ve got nothing against them, but it’s not me.) Brands and labels give a sense of identity, loyalty, “in-ness.” They tell people something about you. I just don’t feel that sense of belonging to most companies. And don’t want people assuming things about me based on a label.
Enter The Breaks. This is different. This is local. I actually feel like I need to earn the right to wear these shirts. They might inspire more questions than assumptions. Why do I belong? Why do I care? Did I just read about it in some blog and figure I should bring my log out with five friends and bomb the lineup? What am I doing to protect the culture and the wave and the water?
That’s a lot of responsibility wrapped up in a couple yards of fabric. So I’ll wear the Cliffs shirt. And I’d better take responsibility for that declaration.
San Diego native Bird Huffman has brought surf culture and local pride to San Diego for 40 years. All you have to do is visit his Quonset hut on W. Morena Blvd. to talk story and check out the baddest collection of boards in the county to get a sense of his local pride. You can even buy a tide calendar to help him photo-document the more than 400 boards in his collection. When he chose a print shop for the tshirts, he went local with Strong Screen Printing in Barrio Logan. Taking care of our planet and our neighbors. That’s local.
San Diego Coastkeeper is all about what’s local. We work here, we live here, and we do what we can to protect the water here.
So join the (only slightly branded) movement. Pick up some trash next time you’re on the beach. And let everyone know you have local pride with a limited edition t-shirt from Bird’s Surf Shed that declares you’re part of the crew at Blacks, Cliffs, Jetty, Scripps, Tourmo or Windansea.
Bird says that local pride means we take care of our own. I agree. I’ll wear that brand.
Every time someone shows their local pride and buys a t-shirt from The Breaks collection, Bird will show his by donating a portion of the profit to San Diego Coastkeeper. Thanks, man.
Do you want to win a free surf sesh with the local legend? Bird partnered with Coastkeeper in a one-time-only contest. The first ten people to donate $100 to Coastkeeper by midnight Saturday, May 5, 2012 will be entered for a chance to win a free surf session with Bird to go on the hunt for the best waves in town. All six winners and anyone donating will receive one of “The Breaks” T-shirts. Check out other styles:
San Diego Coastkeeper recently led the charge at the fifth annual Ocean Day held at the California State capitol building in Sacramento. The mission of Ocean Day is to “convey a unified message from the ocean and coastal community that educates and inspires decision makers to work toward effective solutions aimed at protecting and restoring California’s iconic ocean and coastline.” San Diego Coastkeeper served on the event’s steering (planning) committee, which was led by Environment California.
Throughout the day, advocates held meetings with members of the California State Senate and Assembly, and their staff, to discuss current ocean issues and urge the members’ direct action on upcoming bills. We discussed upcoming legislation which threatens to weaken the Coastal Act and streamline desaliniation permitting, as well as positive legislation supporting adaptation to climate change, riding our beaches of plastic foam, and listing of the leatherback sea turtle as California’s official marine reptile. The delegation from San Diego was comprised of representatives of San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The welcoming ceremony for participants featured ocean champion Assemblywoman Julia Brownley. The ceremony was followed by an educational event on the capitol lawn highlighting the value of our oceans to both California’s economy and lifestyle. Various organizations, from aquariums to surf companies and research institutes to activist groups, were represented. The California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a luncheon featuring presentations about Tracking Contaminates of Emerging Concern in California. To close the day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted a reception featuring sustainable seafood at the Sutter Club to celebrate California’s ocean and coast as well as to honor those who have helped to advance ocean health in our state. Governor Jerry Brown and other dignitaries spoke about the importance of protecting the future of our oceans, and colleagues from like-minded organizations who often work remotely were able to meet in person to discuss challenges and successes in the ocean conservation field.
There’s a first time for everything!
The inaugural San Diego Half Marathon was Sunday, March 11.
It was a beautiful, overcast morning (great for a run), when 5,000 runners from San Diego – and across the country – came to participate in this epic 13.1-mile run that toured downtown San Diego. The race started at Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play, and traversed through historic downtown, starting in the Gaslamp District, then on to NTC Park at Liberty Station, up Washington street, through Hillcrest, alongside Balboa Park, and then to the epic finish inside Petco Park, where many cheering friends and family were reeling in their runners.
Registration fees for the race went towards community service projects in San Diego.
Racers also raised money for additional charities that are important to them, such as the Make a Wish Foundation of San Diego, The National Foundation for Autism Research, Huntington’s disease Society of America, and San Diego Police Officers Association for Widows and Orphans Fund. After the run, participants could hang out around downtown, and relax in Petco Park, listening to the band Lifehouse.
If you’ve wanted to donate to San Diego Coastkeeper, and haven’t been able to find the cash. Consider signing up for a running event like this one and set a fundraising goal. Your friends and family are sure to support your running endevors, and it will help you support clean water in San Diego.
I highly recommend you check out this race next year! Or, you can even check out active.com for more 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, or even full marathons in the San Diego area throughout this spring and summer. The earlier you race, the sooner you can help Coastkeeper!
And if you’ve never raced before, just remember, there is a first time for everything (The San Diego Half Marathon was my first half marathon)! Get out there and run!
As Hillary Clinton famously noted in her 1996 book, “it takes a village.” Regardless of views on education reform, the message about the power of collaboration and the significance of a chorus of voices in any conversation rings true for me.
Today, San Diego Coastkeeper runs on the power of our own village, specifically the people, organizations and companies in America’s Finest City and beyond. In 2011, individual volunteers put over 25,000 hours of time into protecting our waterways. More than 20 businesses and community groups joined the collaborative Water Reliability Coalition to advocate for a safe, reliable, sustainable and cost-effective local water supply.
Our water quality monitoring and beach cleanups depend on those 25,000 hours that volunteers contribute. And we do our best to make it a positive experience. We commit to their safety and to the sustainability of our practices. That’s why when Magid Glove and Safety called us up to offer a donation of their product, we thanked them enthusiastically. Their donation of lab gloves and reusable cleanup gloves helps us meet our quality assurance protocol in the lab, “Bring Your Own” goals for sustainable practices at 2012 beach cleanups and provide comfort and safety for our volunteers.
This week, Coastkeeper staff will participate in the Regional Task Force for the Homeless “We All Count” homeless census. We are part of this village and we like to add our voices to the chorus… you might mistake our office for the Singing in the Rain clip from Glee, we’re so enthusiastic. Yesterday I worked with three different interns, one in high school, one in university and one a retiree. They all “sing” for clean water every week. What’s your song? Tell us about it in the comments and email us if you want to volunteer or have resources to donate. Thanks for being part of our village!