It’s a challenge that we accept every World Oceans Day–it’s never easy and it gets harder every year. But it’s a challenge we hold close to our heart anyway. What is it, you might ask? It’s the selection of our Coastal Champions, whom we honor each year in June. Please take a moment to read the astounding accomplishments of these individuals and businesses, and then RSVP for your free ticket to the breakfast celebration at Birch Aquarium on Friday, June 13.
Christine Hillger: Paws for applause. Christine Hillger put in the woman hours necessary to raise funds, install dispensers and keep all the bio-degradable bags needed in them over 14 years so that dog lovers can enjoy Imperial Beach without leaving behind the illness-causing bacteria that their pets inevitably deposit. She has undoubtedly saved many a shoe from eww, and almost certainly a great number of water lovers from missed days at work, trips to the doctor and longer term effects.
City of Chula Vista: We’re governed by, well, our government. The City of Chula Vista is leading its residents in water conservation with public forums, exceptional instructional tools and progressive services like requiring since mid-2013 most new single family homes be pre-plumbed for a gray-water laundry. Before you’re done unpacking your boxes, you can wash your clothes, then water your landscape, all with the same water. In San Diego County, we use ~60% of our drinking water on plants, so that’s a big deal.
H2O Trash Patrol: What’s SUP, trash? A standup paddle board, some sunscreen and a desire to teach their kids about the environment launched Patti & Lorenzo into the nonprofit business of picking up trash. Pesky water-borne marine debris in harbors, lagoons, rivers and isolated locales is no match for this team and their volunteers. In the past year, they removed 2,600 pounds of trash from our waterways bringing the total to more than 16,000 since they started counting in 2011.
Diane Castaneda: AMP up our fisheries. A nonprofit should represent the people whose lives it impacts and in San Diego, that has to include conversations with our Hispanic/Latino population and the children who will become leaders soon. En español, marine protected areas become áreas marinas protejidas (AMP). Over the past two years, Diane has developed and implemented a successful AMP outreach program for Hispanic and underserved children in San Diego County, initiating innovative partnerships with the San Ysidro Girl Scouts who have developed a MPA Jr. Watch Program for the Tijuana River Mouth MPA.
Find & Fix
Laura Hunter: Some fixes take decades. Laura Hunter worked for two decades to develop the strategies and negotiate the terms that led to the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, creating one of the most environmentally appropriate development projects in our region. We hear a rumor she plans to (re-)retire this year from Environmental Health Coalition. It’s well-deserved, although we expect that she’s got a few projects up her sleeves.
Blue Tech & ASBS
Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System: ExSCCOOS me, do you have the time? Thanks to SCCOOS, we will soon have top-notch technology powering a data portal to provide the time, date and myriad other information about our Areas of Special Biological Significance to support data-driven decisions in their managemen. State law requires we prevent all–yes 100 percent of–pollution from finding its way to these special places. Now we’ll know better how it helps. Julie Thomas oversees that effort as SCCOOS executive director and Lisa Hazard leads the project, currently in beta test.
Volunteer of the Year
Steve Kwik & Kai the dog: Steve is one of San Diego Coastkeeper’s most dedicated Water Quality Monitors and a co-captain of the Los Peñasquitos team. Every month Steve, often accompanied by trusty pup Kai, leads a team of volunteers or trainees out to collect the water samples that Coastkeeper uses to monitor pollutants in the Los Peñasquitos watershed. Quick to lend a helping hand or provide guidance to new volunteers, Steve is a favorite among seasoned volunteers and new ones alike. Steve’s unfailingly positive energy and reliability make him an indispensable part of the Coastkeeper volunteer family.
Lighthouse Lifetime Achievement (selected by the Board of Directors)
Patricia & Mike McCoy are legendary “Forces of Nature” revered regionally for their environmental leadership in the Tijuana River Valley and beyond. Patricia served on the California Coastal Commission. Mike is President of the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association. Environmental stewardship has been their life’s work for 45+ years and they are inspirational and energetic activists to this day. Among their many impacts, Patricia & Mike McCoy were instrumental in the establishment of the San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge, the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, and helped designate the Tijuana Estuary as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Each year San Diego’s Equinox Center releases a Quality of Life Dashboard which analyzes the area’s environment, economy and communities for the year. As a San Diegan and San Diego Coastkeeper Waterkeeper, I am grateful for both the time they put into producing it and the useful information it provides.
The 2013 Dashboard was recently released and I want to take a few minutes to talk about it today because the quality and depth of their work and findings help us assess the state of our waters, in both quantity and quality, and figure out where we can focus our organization’s efforts. In the end, in producing this Dashboard, the Equinox Center helps make a significant contribution to fishable, drinkable, swimmable San Diego waters. So thank you, Equinox!
The report, which analyzes both water consumption and water quality, has some good news and the good news is that when it comes to water quality, there has been some improvement. We’re happy to see San Diego score so high when compared to California’s other major cities, because our waters make up so much of what defines us as San Diegans. For example, the water analysis section has a section on beach closures and advisories and it reports that, despite increased closures since 2011, 97 percent of San Diego’s beaches earned A or B marks during dry weather from Heal the Bay, although only 76 percent did during wet weather. That is the highest score for any of California’s major cities.
On the other hand, the report reflects an abundance of work still to be done. For example, did you know that water use in San Diego went up last year? This is not good news in a time of such serious drought. Now more than ever it’s important for all of us in the region to maximize conservation and work towards developing a new water conservation ethic built around zero waste.
While we’re reducing, we can also work towards reusing and utilizing local resources to help complement our existing water supplies. These strategies include increased stormwater capture and use when it does rain.
There are other steps that will have to be made on a larger scale. One example is wastewater recycling for potable reuse. I am excited to say that is something more and more local agencies, including the City of San Diego, are working towards implementing.
Of course, we at Coastkeeper will continue to work towards pollution prevention techniques and strategies that allow our beaches to remain open not only when it’s bright and sunny, but after it rains as well. One of the many lessons gleaned from review of the Dashboard is how important it is for us to continue our beach testing efforts that give us more rapid results to protect public health and recreational opportunities here in San Diego.
Do you want to be part of those testing efforts? Check out our Water Quality Monitoring Programs! If that isn’t your cup of tea, we have a beach cleanup, educational event or any number of other perfectly suited activities for you. Check out these opportunities on our volunteer opportunities and events pages.
“Fix A Leak Week” ended. I’m pretty sure that some of us still have a leak or two that can be fixed, though, and that will save thousands upon thousands of gallons of water. So, in the spirit of experiential learning and full transparency, I bring you: my toilet.
San Diego Coastkeeper offers free dye tabs to anyone that wants them, thanks to a special delivery from the San Diego County Water Authority’s conservation director. Here’s your step-by-step pictorial how to guide to using them, as performed in my house:
STEP 1: Open your dye tab packet. (Get it free from San Diego Coastkeeper, if you need it.)
STEP 2: Remove the dye tab. Yes, it looks like a SweeTart. But it’s not, so don’t eat it.
STEP 3: Drop one dye tab in the tank of your toilet.
STEP 4: Agitate the water. You could try hurling insults or tickling to agitate it, but I suggest swirling a long-handled something in the tank, instead.
STEP 5: Wait. Wait a few moments longer.
STEP 6: Observe the water in the bowl of your toilet. Yes, of course mine is always this clean. If the water is clear like this, congratulate yourself. It’s likely you don’t have any water leaking from your tank. You are #waterwise! Tweet, Instagram or Facebook about it.
STEP 6.1: If a trail of blue appears in your tank, or you walk away and come back to a Smurf colored bowl, get your work clothes on or your plumber’s phone number out. There seems to be water leaking from your tank to your bowl. You could be losing thousands of gallons of water a year! That’s a lot of water that we can’t afford to waste; and you’re paying for it every time you get a bill. So take care of it!
Wondering what other leaks might be happening right under your roof? Check out Matt’s earlier blog about the trillion gallons lost every year to leaks and let us know how your fixes go!
Bonus tip: San Diego County Water Authority provides a FREE irrigation survey. Around 60% of water use in San Diego County is outside the home and a tiny leak in your irrigation system can lose 6,300 gallons per MONTH! That’s like taking an extra shower every single day. Sign up at the WaterSmart website. It’s free. Go for it.
We pride ourselves on our volunteers. Not only do they collect crucial information about our waters throughout San Diego County, but they are also poets, and they don’t even know it.
I took their comments from water monitoring data sheets and found myself with a beautiful poem that I’d like to share with you.
More trash than normal
Probably kids wading
Mountain lions sighted here last week
Our parking spot was on television
No sightings for us
Female mallard swimming in pond
A few pieces of trash
Willow seed pods floating in water
Carcass of coyote
(has been here for a while)
Inch of water flowing over walkway
Grass in stream
Thick brown-green algae on bottom of stream
Lots of brush was cleared out
Crawfish isn’t here today
Lots of sediment on bottom
Water clear but gross stuff on bottom
Craig has photos of fecal matter for your enjoyment
Attention, San Diego! Do you like fishable, swimmable, drinkable water? What about craft beer? All-natural foods? Local businesses?
We’re hoping most of you are shouting, “Yes!” when you read these questions. We certainly do, and cordially invite you to participate in our Facebook contest to win a spot at Delectable: A Barons Market Taste for Coastkeeper on the evening of Tuesday, October 8, at Barons Market in Point Loma. Or, as we like to call it, an evening that combines all of our favorite things.
If you’re not familiar with Barons Market, you should be. This local family-owned grocery store carries simply good food at simply good prices. We also like that Barons Market prioritizes local vendors, including its beer selection, which brings us to Coronado Brewing Company, and our Facebook contest.
On Tuesday, October 8, at 6 p.m., five lucky winners and their friends will enjoy four craft brews from Coronado Brewing Company accompanied by four all-natural dishes from Barons Market. Guests’ feedback will help Coastkeeper and Barons Market finalize the tasting menu for a private event on October 22 that will go in depth on challenges to clean water in San Diego County.
You have two chances to win one of our five coveted tasting spots – and all it takes is two Facebook comments.
HERE’S HOW TO WIN
● Visit San Diego Coastkeeper on Facebook and comment on our cover photo with what you’re doing to reduce your water pollution.
● Visit Barons Market Facebook page and comment on its cover photo with your favorite beer and food combination, and why.
Five creative winners and their lucky guests will earn tickets to enjoy a free evening of some of San Diego’s finest beer and all-natural foods with the folks at San Diego Coastkeeper and Barons Market.
Winners will be contacted on Friday, October 4. Comment away, share with your friends and thank you for supporting San Diego Coastkeeper!
Every business and every worker in San Diego needs a clean, realiable water supply to thrive. That’s why we take our corporate sponsorships very seriously. If you’re looking to integrate your brand into an environmental event or find a local cause to rally with, we’ve got creative ideas, myriad opportunities and responsive followers. Learn more about sponsoring San Diego Coastkeeper.
We email twice a month with our latest news, upcoming events and important volunteer opportunities. Join our following by signing up for our email news.
We heart our volunteers, who keep us motivated and expand our capacity to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in San Diego County. Let us know how you’d like to volunteer.
Expand your scholastic experience or challenge your professional side with an internship in the environmental field. From water quality monitoring and beach cleanups to communciations and development, we have internships available for all skill sets.
Until October 30, Jack Johnson will double up to $2,500 donated to San Diego Coastkeeper. Double your donation today.
It was a challenge, but we narrowed our list of accomplishments to these ten jaw-dropping environmental victories in San Diego County. We’ve got more wins on the horizon, so make sure you become a member to be a part of our successes.
It’s nearly the New Year: what goals will you set to be the best You possible? In our quest to protect and restore fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County, we think about clean water goals every day. We share with you our approach on high-level policy and long-term projects that take decades to achieve, but we also want you to participate in your everyday life. We all should. In the spirit of this New Year and keeping San Diego sensational, we offer you these 10 clean water resolutions for the New Year.
- Try a new recreation activity in, on or by the water. Here part one in our I Love My ASBS blog series to get you started with some fun ideas in La Jolla.
- Pick up someone else’s trash off the ground. Every day, of course, but you can also sign up for a beach cleanup once a week.
- Learn the name of the waterbody nearest my home and workplace. And then volunteer to do Water Quality Monitoring and learn what’s in the water.
- Stop buying water in plastic bottles or using single-use plastic bags. These pollute our beaches and natural spaces, and also you.
- Spend more time with your family. San Diego is primed for together time as you tide pool, kayak, dive or volunteer.
- Explore all 11 San Diego marine protected areas. These are our underwater state parks; you shouldn’t skip any of them.
- Bring your own take out containers to avoid using StyrofoamTM. Not only is Styrofoam a single-use item (see resolution idea number 4), but it is also terribly harmful to the environment and your health.
- Take shorter showers. Or shower with a friend more often.
- Watch more beach sunsets. Really, people, why do we live here? It’s not enough to cleanup beaches without truly appreciating the beauty that San Diego has to offer. Do you know how many millions of people travel here every year to do just that? You can do it every day of the year, if you wanted.
- Donate to a good cause like environmental education, water monitoring or beach cleanups. Sure, a one-time or monthly contribution to clean water in San Diego is helpful, but this year, make it a challenge to donate often. Sponsor Coastkeeper during your 5K events, throw a cocktail party with a fundraising component, save your change.
What resolution will you add to the list?
Did you read our Annual Report?
If so, we hope you enjoyed it- and if you are still wondering how you can get involved with Coastkeeper this year, look no further. Starting this fall, Coastkeeper will launch two new volunteer programs complete with training dates, as well as flexible scheduling: Inland Trash Assessment and MPA Watch.
Inland Trash Assessment
Starting on September 15, Coastkeeper will participate in a marine debris project for the Southern California Bight ’13 research project under the “Inland Trash Assessment” subgroup. Several different groups throughout Southern California, including us, will look at the rates of trash accumulation in rivers and streams throughout the year. We will survey sites from Vista to Sweetwater in this three-week project with flexible scheduling, and best of all, there is only one day of required training. Click here for more info and be sure to RSVP today.
After months of planning and prep, we are ready to launch our MPA Watch program in La Jolla. This program will afford volunteers an opportunity to document human uses of our marine protected areas through surveys that will run throughout the state. The first training, on August 24, will focus on La Jolla’s marine protected areas and our partner WiLDCOAST is running training sessions for Tijuana Rivermouth, with South La Jolla and Swami’s coming later this fall. Once trained, volunteers can conduct surveys whenever they are able, so the schedule is very flexible. Volunteers will play a pivotal role in contributing data to the future assessment of our MPAs in San Diego and understanding how human use has changed since their implementation. Click here for more info and please RSVP if you would like to attend the training on August 24.
Memorial Day is fast approaching and on Memorial Day weekend, we will have an influx of trash on our beaches. Here is a list of ten things you can do to reduce the amount of trash during Memorial Day weekend:
- Stay away from plastic bags! Instead of using plastic bags to bring your snacks, use reusable bags and containers.
- Bring a trash bag with you to make sure you throw everything away; that way trash won’t be buried in the sand throughout the day or left when you leave.
- If you are walking along the beach and see trash or cans/bottles, safely pick them up and throw them away.
- Make a game with your friends and family on who can gather the most cans. Whoever wins, gets to keep the money when you cash them in!
- Switch over to reusable water bottles, instead of single-use plastic bottles (this can make a huge difference each day).
- Instead of making this weekend focused around eating and drinking, make it about socializing and physical activity. Play some Frisbee!
- If you are allowed to have bonfires at the beach, refrain from burning your trash, especially plastics. Also, make sure the fire is fully out before you leave.
- If you have pets, pick up after them, so nobody will experience stepping in something other than sand.
- Don’t smoke! Cigarette butts are the leading pollutant on our beaches and there are many negative effects that come from the cigarettes in our water. If you have the urge to smoke, be sure to dispose of the entire cigarette butt appropriately.
- Encourage others you know to use these tips and to do their part in keeping our beaches clean this Memorial Day weekend.
Part three of four in our Annual Report blog series highlighting everything Coastkeeper in the year of 2012.
I offer you one word to sum up Coastkeeper in 2012: Invaluable.
There should be nothing controversial about clean, plentiful water. But we have taken this resource too much for granted, and fixing our water-related problems has posed many challenges. For 18 years, San Diego Coastkeeper has taken up those challenges, proving itself an indefatigable watchdog and defender of San Diego’s waters.
In 2012 we upheld our commitment to our core mission of protecting and restoring fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters. And we developed new partnerships in a collaborative community-based spirit to better help us preserve and enhance our precious natural resources.
Sound invaluable? It is. It’s San Diego Coastkeeper. And it’s made up of an inspired and inspiring staff; a remarkable group of talented volunteers; a host of dedicated sponsors and members and a board of directors that is second to none in its spirit, commitment and skill.
I invite you to read our online recap of Coastkeeper’s top ten accomplishments for 2012. We proudly reflect on our first Community Advisory Council, our partnership with UCSD’s Global TIES program, our co-leadership of San Diego’s Water Reliability Coalition, our trainings to help educators teach environmental science to children, and much, much more.
Thank you for your continued support of fishable, swimmable, and drinkable waters in San Diego County.
President Board of Directors