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We’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news: California has found itself in the worst drought in recorded history. More bad news: Climate change and drought are trapped in a vicious cycle. As one gets worse, so does the other. This vicious cycle is called the “Water-Energy Nexus.”

But here’s the good news: If we do small things, the whole cycle can reverse and there’s enough water for everybody. Allow us to explain.

The 5 Steps of the Water Energy Nexus:

  1. Water Use=Energy Use
    Water requires energy to extract, convey, treat, deliver and heat. Turning on the tap uses water as well as energy; nearly 20 percent of all the energy used by the state of California is spent on water use.

  2. Energy Use=Greenhouse Gasses=Rising Temperatures
    This energy use creates greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change. What’s one of the worst effects of climate change? Rising temperatures.

  3. Rising Temperatures=More Water Use
    When it’s hot outside, keeping lawns alive, pools filled and crops growing all require more water.

  4. More Water Use=Way More Energy Use
    As we put more demand on our water supply, we primarily rely on getting water from places further away, such as Northern California and the Colorado River Basin. It takes an enormous amount of energy to get water from other sources and bring that to San Diego.

  5. Vicious Cycle Engaged
    As you can see, the more water we use, the more energy we use, the more we contribute to climate change and the whole process repeats, but at a faster rate than before. Staying trapped in this cycle is how we will continue our water supply crisis.

Breaking the Cycle

It sounds pretty bad, but here’s the good news I mentioned earlier: we can get out of this mess just as easily as we got into it.

The fact that water, energy, and climate change are intertwined can be just as big of an advantage as it is a problem. If we find the weakest part of the cycle and break it, the whole cycle reverses, our world begins to heal and things start to get better.

The weakest link: Lawns (and other simple stuff)

Research shows that our wasteful water use is by far the easiest part of the cycle to change. It requires the smallest changes in infrastructure and has the lowest impacts on our current lifestyle. And, over half of San Diego's water usage goes towards outdoor purposes like watering lawns and keeping pools filled.

Our Australian neighbors with much hotter average temperatures use less than half of the water we do. Recent research from the Pacific Institute and the NRDC indicate that San Diego residents could lower their water use by 40 to 60 percent without any major impacts on their normal lifestyle. The study also indicates that businesses could lower their water use by 30-60 percent while maintaining business as usual. That kind of simple change could transform this vicious cycle into an awesome cycle of an increasingly sustainable society.

But history tells us that announcing the solution as “use less water” won’t get nearly enough people on board. Luckily, there are a few state and local policy and infrastructure changes that can help us all make the transition faster and with much less effort.

Here are three tricks and policies to help us end the cycle:

  1. Localized landscape subsidies or mandates
    san-marcos-1There are thousands of beautiful plant species native to San Diego. They all have evolved to thrive with the exact amount of rain and sunlight San Diego provides naturally. Landscaping with native species drastically reduces the amount of extra irrigation that non-native plants require to survive in our ecosystem. Both subsidies for native landscaping as well as mandates are good approaches depending on the situation. Our friends at the California Native Plant Society and great local landscaping companies like Schmidt Design, Revolution Landscape and others can offer advice on beautiful, productive landscaping.

  2. Water Lawns Less Often
    San Diego is currently (as of November 2014) in Level 2 Drought alert, meaning we have temporary regulations on our water use until the drought is over. However, many municipalities have restrictions like these all year long. If we make our temporary restrictions permanent, we can build responsible water use into our lifestyle and our city’s infrastructure.

  3. Pricing that incentivizes conservation and discourages water waste
    We think rewards and consequences that are actually important to us grownups, like cash, would encourage people to be more water conscious. By advocating for pricing structures tied to water usage, we hope to cut down on waste, increase conservation, and help keep the costs of our water down, all at the same time.

The power to solve our water crisis is in all of our hands. Luckily, the solutions are simple and based in common sense. Check out these easy tips for drastically reducing your water consumption at home.

What do you do to help conserve water? Tell us in the comments.

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Wetlands are the superheroes of ecosystems. They may look like patches of mud and grass, but they're saving San Diego one tidal flow at a time.

In addition, they help regulate climate, store surface water, control pollution, absorb fertilizers, protect shorelines, maintain natural communities of plants and animals, serve as critical nursery areas, and provide opportunities for education and recreation.

Every December, January and February, in particular, they hold back some of the ocean's toughest tides. It's during these months that we have some of the highest tides of the year, AKA king tides. The average king tide is 5 – 8 inches higher than the average high tide. That might not seem like a lot until you see the Ocean Beach Pier get completely swamped by massive waves. But king tides also affect our coastline infrastructure, and it's our wetlands that soak king tides like a sponge. In fact, without the wetlands, San Diego's infrastructure would be more at risk during every king tide.

Wetlands save the day year after year.

But here's the problem: 90% of California's wetlands have been lost to development. And king tides are just a taste of future high tides. By 2050, rising sea levels are predicted to make everyday ocean water levels 12-18 inches higher than today's tides. That's an everyday tide that's more than double the height of our highest tides. And we're continuing to develop the wetlands, making our coastline less and less resilient to the impending sea level rise.

The California Climate Change Center predicts nearly 140 schools, 34 police and fire stations and 350,000 miles of road are at risk in California from rising sea levels and development of wetlands. It estimates that nearly $100 billion (in year 2000 dollars) worth of property is at risk of flooding from a 100-year event.

But don't take my written word for it.

Watch this time-lapse video showing the extreme high and low tides during king tides at Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh at Campland on the Bay. I think it'll amaze you with how much water our wetlands absorb and also help you visualize why we must protect our remaining wetlands in San Diego.

Want to see this for yourself? Check out any of the remaining wetlands in San Diego County to watch nature's sponge in action:

  • Tijuana River Valley
  • San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge
  • Paradise Point
  • San Diego River Estuary
  • Famosa Slough
  • Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh
  • Los Penasquitos Lagoon
  • San Dieguito Lagoon
  • San Elijo Lagoon
  • Batiquitos Lagoon
  • San Luis Rey Estuary
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Kathryn C. Kelchner, a marine science teacher from the Chesapeake Bay, knows that lecturing isn’t the way to inspire kids to become passionate about taking care of our waters. 

So for New Year's Resolution she took a new approach. She hung a bulletin board by the bathroom hallway, where students tend to loiter, avoiding going back to class. She posted 32 simple New Year’s resolutions for the ocean; all small things that kids and adults can do to have a positive impact on our water.

The simplicity of her New Year Ocean's resolution bulletin board inspired us. We had to share her resolutions and we’ll be adopting as many as we can this year to ensure fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters continue to be a prime part of life in San Diego. This year I will…

  1. Make sure every single piece of trash is removed from the sea, starting by organizing local beach cleanups
  2. Reduce my use of pesticides & fertilizers – including bug spray
  3. Refuse single-use plastics
  4. Turn off car engines while waiting in lines to reduce idling time
  5. Use native plants in my landscaping
  6. Avoid plastic microbeads in body and face washes
  7. Pick up a piece of plastic litter during my day
  8. Unplug electronics like (toasters, TVs and computers) from outlets when not in use
  9. Try to use less disposable plastics (by substituting sandwich baggies for reusable containers and thermoses for water bottles) to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our ocean
  10. Use the Seafood Watch guide to inform my purchases of seafood. This will assure that I’m not encouraging overfishing of at-risk populations
  11. Become an advocate for one endangered or affected marine species and learn all about them. Then I will tell as many people as I can
  12. Learn about how ocean acidification affects turtles, sharks, right whales, walruses, polar bears, reef coral, or shell builders
  13. Enjoy and share in the life and beauty of the ocean, especially with other kids
  14. Skip the Straw! This will help reduce plastic use and keep it from ending up in the ocean
  15. Help take care of the beach
  16. Reduce my carbon footprint
  17. Be careful of marine life while on my boat
  18. Buy ocean-friendly products like jewelry not made of coral or sea turtle shell
  19. Go to the beach and take only pictures; leave only footprints
  20. Not wash my car in the street
  21. Pick up after my pets
  22. Be careful of what I wash down the drain
  23. Use natural soap and cleaning products
  24. Use cloth shopping bags
  25. Cut up monofilament fishing line, string, and rope before discarding, and NEVER let balloons drift off
  26. Prevent air pollution by not using aerosols
  27. Drive less and bike more
  28. Not flush medicines down the drain or toilet
  29. Not throw trash in waterways
  30. Not use antibacterial soap. Its most common ingredient, triclosan, is not completely removed during waste-water treatment and is toxic to marine organisms
  31. Take up SCUBA diving
  32. Not feed the seagulls off the pier

How many of these will you resolve to do in 2015?

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The Campbell Shipyard used to be one of the most unfishable and unswimmable bodies of water in San Diego. From the 1880s to the 1920s, this part of the San Diego Bay served as a garbage dump, shipbuilding hub, petroleum-manufacturing center and gas-waste disposal site. These industries left massive amounts of harmful chemicals (PCBs, tributyltin, heavy metals and others) embedded in the bay’s sediment. Ever since, they have slowly leaked into the bay’s water and crippled local ecosystems. The contaminants have also worked their way up the marine food chain and now harm the health of seafood in the area.

According to the Campbell webpage on the Port's website, in 1995 the Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered the Port of San Diego to solve the pollution problem. So the Port of San Diego, in partnership with San Diego Coastkeeper, San Diego Surfrider, members of the Bay Council and others developed a $15-million restoration plan. The project included an excavation of 15,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment from the bottom of the bay and the creation of a cap to isolate remaining contaminants from the rest of the bay’s water. The cap, built out of armored rock, concrete jacks, sand and a 1.6-acre eel grass habitat, is designed to restore biodiversity to the bay. The plan also included a 20-year monitoring period that began in 2008.

Campbell Sediment Cap Diagram

I’m proud to announce that water-quality tests indicate that the cap has been effective at keeping pollutants out of the bay. The eel grass habitat is now a thriving habitat for local sand bass, lobsters and other marine life and a protected nursery for young fish populations.

The Campbell Sediment Cap is a shining example of the great things we can accomplish when state and local municipalities, businesses, community members and organizations like San Diego Coastkeeper work together with the common goal of protecting and restoring swimmable, fishable, drinkable water. You can hear the details of the full story, starting from the 1800s to present day, at the Port of San Diego’s new Campbell Sediment Cap educational site

 

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Every year, the first major rain after the dry summer season gives us an opportunity to see the complicated problem of urban runoff and its impacts to our water quality. Urban runoff is water that flows over thehard scape surfaces we fill our cities with and drains directly into our waters. Stormwater, irrigation, and other water carry pollutants such as trash, oil, grease, pesticides, metals, bacteria and viruses, and toxic chemicals.

And it washes into our rivers, bays, lakes and ocean - untreated. 

To unwind this major water quality issue in San Diego would require turning back the clock to a time before we developed the county and rethinking how we paved, connected and changed the natural landscape. Still, today, we can do things to capture or slow down runoff before it hits our water or to prevent pollutants in the first place. In thinking about our upcoming stormy season, we tapped the brains of our water quality sampling volunteers, who collect water samples from nine of our eleven watersheds, to produce this list of the top ten places to watch urban runoff. In no scientific way, we ordered it from the most basic visual to the most compelling. We target different pollutants, diverse geographic locations, a varierty of infrastructure impacts and human health and use impacts.

Take a look. What do you see?

10. 2306 S Coast Highway: Open channel dumping onto the beach

This popular North County surf spot features an open channel carrying urban runoff from the adjacent parking lot and highway straight onto the beach. This location highlights how stormwater washes trash and dissolved pollutants from our developed places onto our beaches.

9. 300 Forward Street in La Jolla/Bird Rock: Drain at the street's end 

This is the most straightforward illustration of a storm drain labeled "drains to the ocean," where you can see the drain, the end of the street and the polluted water and its entrance to the Pacific. It simply illustrates the complicated infrastructure our region built that assumed pushing all water into our bays and ocean was the smartest way to keep our homes and businesses dry. 

8. Tourmaline Surf Park: Channelized stormwater outlet meets popular surf spot

This Pacific Beach surf spot is world-renowned for its waves, thankfully not for its urban runoff pollution. Risking intestional illnesses of all sorts, surfers get barreled here when its raining, unaware that a paved stormwater channel leads direct to sandy beach and into the water. Polluted runoff in this channel dumps directly in the surf zone.

urban runoff effects

7. Coast Boulevard Park: Cement pipe at ocean's edge

The Waterkeeper movement started decades ago because fisherman saw large industrial sites using massive pipes to discard pollution directly into the Hudson River. This location symbolizes San Diego's version of that as a cement pipe carries polluted water from the storm drain straight to the ocean. With the Hudson's pollution, fishermen could pinpoint a specific corporation responsible for dumping pollution into the water. In San Diego, it's impossible to target one contributor to this issue because every person adds to the problem as rain water runs over our homes, yards, driveways, workplaces and more, until it carries accumalted toxins to this singular end point. In this spot, a large algae plume from the excess nutrients (commonly caused by fertilizer) grows along the rocks at the end of the drain. You can even see the algae mat in this photo to the right.

6. Cottonwood creek at Moonlight State Beach:Storm Drain opening

We're particularly aware of this polluted runoff example because Moonlight Beach is a favorite among locals, families and surfers. It's one of those rare beaches where a community member organizes regular cleanups to keep it trash free. Surfers flock here. Families play here. But, it's also a prime location to see an open channel storm drain flow right to the sandy beach. 

5. San Dieguito River Park Stormwater Treatment lagoon: Treatment wetland in action

Is it too late to reverse the effects of polluted runoff? Absolutely not, especially when we get creative.

We chose this location because it showcases a stormwater pipe that drops large amounts of urban runoff from the nearby development. The folks at San Dieguito Lagoon built a treatment wetland to clean the water before it gets to the actual lagoon. Here, you'll see the pipe dumping water into the first pond. This first pond always has stagnant algae pond water, even when it's not raining. But, the good news in this solution-oriented example, is that you can see the treatment ponds prevent the gross water from reaching the lagoon. 

This illustrates what many people refer to as stormwater capture, and it also depicts the role that nature plays in helping humans handle polluted runoff.

In their natural state, our inland creeks slow polluted water and force it through nature's filter--offering a true eco-cleanse that can remove a lot of urban runoff pollution from water before it reaches the ocean. Sandly, by channelizing many of San Diego County's creeks, we dehabilitated nature's role by replacing vegetation with paved concrete to quickly move water away from our developed areas into our bays and ocean. 

4. Tecolote Shores, Mission Beach: Creek emptying into man-made bay

Mission Bay is gross--in this part of the bay. Here Tecolote Creek drains into Mission Bay, a tourism hot spot that we engineered when we rerouted the mouth of the San Diego River. Due to the high bacteria counts in this creek, this section of Mission Bay is often closed for swimming, even when it's not raining. It's particularly polluted here year round because this far-back section of Mission Bay does not have much current to mix the polluted water into the open ocean.

3. Dog Beach, Ocean Beach: The mouth of our region's largest river

The polluted runoff in this iconic location begins collecting bacteria and toxins from as far inland as Julian--the eastern edges of this watershed. The amount and the intensity of polluted runoff flowing through the mouth of this river demonstrate the gravity of our top water quality problem. Here, you're also likely to see a secondary issue in urban runoff--marine debris.

2. 3001 Harbor Drive: Trash

This bridge overlooks the outlet for Chollas Creek, one of San Diego County's most polluted creeks. Flowing through the most densely populated urban areas in the county, Chollas Creek is wrought with trash, oil, grease, pesticides, metals, bacteria and viruses and toxic chemicals. What makes this secure the #2 spot on our list of ten is that you can see a trash boom designed to capture trash flowing from upstream into the bay. Particularly with the popularity of photos on the Internet, many people have seen images from around the globe featuring humans in boats surrounded by massive amounts of trash in the water. It's easy to dismiss that in San Diego because we do have strong trash and recycling systems in place. But, if you find yourself here at the end of Chollas Creek, you may see that marine debris issues are much closer to home than they appear. 

1. Dairy Mart Road: Binational polluted runoff

During the winter, the Tijuana River overruns the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Ysidro, California. It then runs through the Tijuana River Estuary, one of the largest remaining Southern California coastal wetland habitats. This area is as important stopover on the Pacific Flyway bird migratory route. Unfortunately, the river carries large amounts of raw sewage as well as trash and sediment straight through the estuary and onto the beaches near Imperial Beach. During the winter, the river flows close nearby beaches. This one location perfectly illustrates that urban runoff is not "one person's problem" or even "one country's problem." It highlights trash management issues as well as chemical water quality issues. This location slots into #1 because of the severity of the polluted runoff, the amount of the water flowing in this spot and the complicated matter of finding solutions to polluted runoff that starts in the U.S., flows through Mexico and completes it journey back in America.

Did we miss a location that you think should earn a spot on our top ten list of places to experience and learn about polluted runoff issues? Please, share with us your ideas in the comments below. 




 

 

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Project SWELL Hands-On Lesson

Without question, my favorite task as part of the education team at San Diego Coastkeeper is teaching lessons for ProjectSWELL. Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership), a school-based science curriculum, teaches K-6 students about the importance of the San Diego region's waterways. Usually, Project SWELL offers free SWELL kits, curriculum and professional trainings for educators. But this year, the Stiefel Behner Charitable Fund has made it possible to give one hands-on lesson at every school in the San Diego Unified School District. 

I go on solo missions to second grade classrooms with the goal of educating and inspiring our future leaders to care about water quality. In class, we create a model that shows how water carries sediment down an incline. After experimenting with water and earth materials, we add pollution. We put plastic, paper and aluminum on the slope and watch rain move the pollution downstream and straight into the ocean.

When I walk around with green and red food coloring to simulate pet waste and car oil, there is always an awesome simultaneous “ewwww!” I’m excited to watch the class engaged with water, pollution and solutions. The kids are stoked, the lesson is important, and the teachers are all helpful and enthusiastic.

Hearing children’s solutions to pollution is refreshing and exciting. A second grader from Miramar Ranch Elementary had the best solution I’ve heard so far. “I would vacuum the world!” How awesome is that?

To learn more about Project SWELL, visit the Project SWELL website.

 

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"The San Diego Unified Port District will protect the Tidelands Trust resources by providing economic vitality and community benefit through a balanced approach to maritime industry, tourism, water and land recreation, environmental stewardship and public safety." - Mission statement of the Port of San Diego

As advocates, individuals and organizations, we have many opportunities to influence policy. We are the voice of the people, the children, the wildlife and the water. That is why San Diego Coastkeeper seeks opportunities to interact with elected officials and policy makers. It is why we utilize public forums to express concerns and give kudos. And it is why we want every person to know that they have a voice. You can attend any public meeting and be heard. You can write a letter or request a meeting with your elected officials. You can do that today.

This week, I was reminded of this wonderful aspect of our democracy. At its regular board meeting on October 14, the Board of Port Commissioners considered transferring funds to the Port's Environmental Fund and Marine Terminal Impact Fund. The Environmental Fund advances projects to improve the condition of the bay and surrounding tidelands. The Terminal Fund advances projects that offset the impact of maritime terminal operations on communities near the tidelands. Taken together, these two initiatives manage projects that care for our community and ensure Port operations have a positive influence on the surrounding environment.

While deciding the funding for these activities is a seemingly benign task--perhaps even an altruistic one--two factors belie that simplicity. First, in past years, the Port has borrowed money from the Environmental Fund to shore up operational costs. Second, the Port's own mission declares environmental stewardship and public safety as essential parts of its purpose. The decision on October 14 turns out to be one that speaks directly to the Board of Port Commissioner's dedication to the promise made in the Port's mission statement.

Since the Port tidelands and surrounding communities encompass five cities and many acres of protected land and water, environmental and community advocates paid close attention to this decision. Thanks to effective leadership and a timely heads up from Environmental Health Coalition's Kayla Race, I attended the meeting to deliver comments to the commissioners alongside EHC and staff from the office of David Alvarez, San Diego City Council Environment Committee Chair.

Below are the comments I delivered on behalf of San Diego Coastkeeper. Read to the end to find out what happened. 

***

Good afternoon Chairman Nelson, Commissioners,

My name is Megan Baehrens, Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper and member of the Port's Environmental Advisory Committee, where we were briefed on and discussed this issue in August.

First of all, let me applaud you and commend the staff on achieving a budget surplus while also fulfilling your mission. That is no small feat.

And on top of that, I commend the clarity of purpose that leads you to this decision about re-funding the Environmental Fund. While having borrowed from the fund in order to sustain important operational needs—without which the mission cannot be met--is understandable, returning those funds is equally essential to achieve the environmental stewardship that forms an important part of that mission.
I urge you to fund the Environment Fund fully at $2.0 million. And I want to call out the fact that this is not a conversation solely about dollars and cents. Each dollar represents an environmental benefit. And a benefit that has been foregone for the time that those funds were used elsewhere. Now that we have the opportunity, thanks to prudent operations, our Port deserves a fully funded environmental stewardship effort.

In regards to the Marine Terminal Impact Fund, I understand that each option you consider includes the same funding and applaud the care-taking of communities affected by marine terminal operations. The MTIF has been plagued by administrative challenges that lead it so far to mete out very few funds, if any. I hope, indeed urge you to ensure, they are addressed shortly. Otherwise adding funds to that pot is like throwing good money after bad. The Environmental Fund serves as an example of ways in which the Port has effectively issued grants and I believe you can take that as an example.

Thank you for your stewardship of our Port communities and environment and for the opportunity to speak today.

***

The Commissioners unanimously approved adding $500,000 to the Marine Terminal Impact Fund and $2 million to the Environmental Fund.

One moment stands out from the discussion at the meeting. Chairman Bob Nelson and Commissioner Rafael Castellanos noted that the only public comment on the item came from people speaking in favor of returning $2 million to the Environmental Fund. In any public decision, it is our right and responsibility to voice our position, our preference and our reasons for both. In this case, we are validated in that effort.

I want everyone to experience the power of civic engagement. So Coastkeeper will soon be hosting events to help you understand the ins and outs of making your voice heard. Keep an eye on the newsletter and we'll see you then.

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surf-divaPhoto Credit Surf DivaThis last legislative session was good for California's waters. Our elected officials passed a package of bills to initiate regulation on the use of our overtapped groundwater resources, -- a long time in the making. They also passed a bill that makes California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, an issue San Diego Coastkeeper has passionately pushed for many years. The statewide California Coastkeeper Alliance represented the environmental voice at the capital, working tirelessly to educate legislators and advocate for strong bills.

But there's one-little-known bill that they passed for which I am super thrilled--SB1395. Officially known as "Public beaches: inspection for contaminants," this new law has the potential to change the way we monitor beaches for public health. We unofficially call it: rapid water quality information to keep us safe at beaches.

Currently, state law mandates that public health officers monitor our beaches for fecal indicator bacteria and issue an advisory when the beach has a high bacteria count. We use these date to update our Swim Guide beach closure map.

water-sample-s

There is one (major) problem with this testing program. The county uses the same tests we use at Coastkeeper in our lab. This test requires the county to culture out the bacteria, a process that takes 18-48 hours. This time difference between sampling and results means water quality warnings actually say: "This beach should have been closed yesterday; today we should keep it closed." And because the county needs two clean tests to reopen a beach, it could be closed for three days.

About a year ago, we discussed this health issue with County Supervisor Greg Cox, and we told him about a new way to quantify the amount of bacteria in the water. Instead of the culturing process, we can measure the amount of fecal indicator bacteria DNA present in a water sample. This quicker method is called quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). We can have results in two to four hours as opposed to 24 hours. This means we can close the beach the same day as the sampling happens AND reopen beaches a whole day earlier than we can now.

LabSamples 9Mphoto 3Supervisor Cox's 2013 State of the County speech pleasantly surprised us when he directed county staff to do a one-year pilot study to look into the feasibility of using qPCR to monitor our beaches. On the heels of that study, Supervisor Cox worked with State Senator Marty Block to introduce a bill allowing public health officers to choose to use this new testing method. This is the bill that was passed recently and waits for the Governor's signature.

We give thanks to Supervisor Cox, Senator Block and our partners at the California Coastkeeper Alliance for their efforts in helping to protect our state's beaches and the health of all beach users. Now, it's up to Governor Brown to sign this bill and make it a reality for the state.

Please join us in urging Governor Brown to sign this bill. You can contact him at this link.

 

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05.07-press-event-students-As this historic drought continues, it’s easy to see how dependent we are on water. Allowing students at a young age to explore the water in their communities creates a better understanding of how to preserve and protect this resource while gaining valuable science skills. 

That’s why in 2003, we partnered with San Diego Unified School District, and the City of San Diego’s Think Blue Outreach program to create Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership).  In Project SWELL, the impacts of humans on water are explored through a well-balanced, comprehensive, and hands-on water quality and pollution prevention course of study. Project SWELL helps teachers empower students to understand and improve the condition of San Diego waterways. 

Project SWELL is a state standards-based science curriculum that teaches children about the importance of the region's waterways by providing teachers with training about the scientific content, information on how to conduct scientific investigations and in-class support including materials, in class teacher trainings and lesson plans. 

Through this partnership, San Diego Coastkeeper has created a hands-on program that offers training for teachers, makes it easy to engage students and meets new standards. Each Project SWELL unit of study (grades K, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6) consists of 5 or 6 age appropriate, standards-based lessons that build student understanding of San Diego's aquatic environments and emphasize the actions that students can take to improve them.

SDUSD K-6 teachers are you looking for an environmental education curriculum that helps your students realize the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards? Our lessons can help your students develop critical thinking, find solutions to real-life problems using science, practice reading informational text, writing, and increase their science literacy.

And here's what we offer for teachers:

Classroom visits free of cost. Students will do hands-on experiments, models and/or find solutions to real-life problems using science. Teachers if you want a SWELL expert to present in your staff meeting or classroom contact us today! Reservations for class visits must be submitted 2 weeks before your anticipated class visit.

SWELL Science Kits are offered through the district's Instructional Media Center upon teacher request and include materials for 36 K-2 and 4-6 grade lessons.

Professional Development is offer twice a year for K-2nd and 4th-6th grade SDUSD teachers. Teachers receive 1.5 hrs. of professional development, SWELL kit, and time compensation. Please visit www.projectswell.org for more details and to download curriculum.

Contact us at (619) 758-7743 x125 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . To learn more about Project SWELL visit the Project SWELL website.

 

 

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Wow! The Seaside Soiree was a lot of fun and a huge success. It was great to talk to you about your vision for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County.

Morgan_Bailey_Kristine_Gallagher

Kristine Gallagher and Morgan Bailey at the 17th Annual Seaside Soiree
Photography Volunteered by Tom Mills and Jennifer Kendrick (see our Facebook album, too)

Thanks to your generosity, the 2014 Seaside Soiree raised $30,000 that will go directly to programs to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in San Diego County. And with a match incentive extended by the Stiefel Behner Charitable Fund, we now have a three-month challenge to fundraise $25,000. (To get us started, our Board of Directors President Jo Brooks and I each donated $500--won't you join us today?)

With your donation today and the funds raised at our Seaside Soiree, it means:

  • Countywide watersheds will continue to be monitored with a volunteer force and ecosystem health will be measured with new bioassessment technologies.

  • Officials throughout the county will hear from us on programs and laws to prevent over-watering and pollution.

  • Teachers will be trained by San Diego Coastkeeper in watershed science and provided hands-on materials to use with their knowledge-hungry students.

  • We will ensure we wean ourselves from a diet of 80 percent foreign water and use the resources that already flow through our water pipes to provide clean, safe local drinking water in San Diego County.

Special thanks to Michael Gelfand, CEO of Campland on the Bay, who presented a generous $15,000 donation to kick off a campaign through which Campland visitors can donate $1 per night during their stay at this Mission Bay campground. 

Thank you to all who helped to make this event such a success. You are the heart and soul of clean water in our county.

As San Diego Coastkeeper looks forward to our 20th anniversary next year, you have shown us that the movement for healthy waterways is strong.

Please always feel free to comment on a blog post, drop us a line, or stop by our office.  I'd be most pleased to continue the great conversations that began overlooking the Pacific Ocean last week.

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The Vicious Cycle Making Our Drought Wor…

The Vicious Cycle Making Our Drought Worse and Worse (unless we stop it)

We’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news: California has found itself in the worst drought in recorded history. More bad news: Climate change and drought are trapped...

Time-Lapse Video of San Diego King Tides…

Wetlands are the superheroes of ecosystems. They may look like patches of mud and grass, but they're saving San Diego one tidal flow at a time. In addition, they help regulate...

Resolutions Simple Enough For a Kid

Kathryn C. Kelchner, a marine science teacher from the Chesapeake Bay, knows that lecturing isn’t the way to inspire kids to become passionate about taking care of our waters. So for...

Bay Health Improves as Campbell Sediment…

Bay Health Improves as Campbell Sediment Cap Remains Effective

The Campbell Shipyard used to be one of the most unfishable and unswimmable bodies of water in San Diego. From the 1880s to the 1920s, this part of the San...

These Ten Locations Featuring Urban Runo…

These Ten Locations Featuring Urban Runoff Pollution Will Shock You

Every year, the first major rain after the dry summer season gives us an opportunity to see the complicated problem of urban runoff and its impacts to our water quality...

“I Would Vacuum The World!”

“I Would Vacuum The World!”

Without question, my favorite task as part of the education team at San Diego Coastkeeper is teaching lessons for ProjectSWELL. Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership), a school-based science...

Port Funds $2.5M to Protect Water and Co…

Port Funds $2.5M to Protect Water and Communities

"The San Diego Unified Port District will protect the Tidelands Trust resources by providing economic vitality and community benefit through a balanced approach to maritime industry, tourism, water and land...

Two Hours: Tell Governor Brown We Need W…

Two Hours: Tell Governor Brown We Need Water Quality Results Faster

This last legislative session was good for California's waters. Our elected officials passed a package of bills to initiate regulation on the use of our overtapped groundwater resources, -- a...

New Classroom Presentations Teach Studen…

New Classroom Presentations Teach Students About Our Most Precious Resource

As this historic drought continues, it’s easy to see how dependent we are on water. Allowing students at a young age to explore the water in their communities creates a...

17th Annual Seaside Soiree Raises $30,00…

17th Annual Seaside Soiree Raises $30,000!

Wow! The Seaside Soiree was a lot of fun and a huge success. It was great to talk to you about your vision for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San...

Swimmable Facts

  • Urban runoff is the number one threat to water quality in San Diego. 
  • San Diego beaches close for 3 days after it rains. Pollution prevention and better testing will get us get back in the water sooner.
  • One of the top dive and snorkel sites in San Diego is a MPA (La Jolla-Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve). You can swim there with leopard sharks and the Garibaldi, the state marine fish of California.
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SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER
2825 Dewey Rd., Ste. 200 • San Diego CA 92106 • TEL. 619.758.7743