Since I joined San Diego Coastkeeper in 2009, protecting the health of our waters has meant I could pour every ounce of my professional effort into a cause that is deeply, personally meaningful to me and critically important for our region. And every day I work alongside a dedicated staff and board of directors that approaches the mission of fishable, swimmable, drinkable water with intelligence, humor and fearlessness.
Joining San Diego Coastkeeper fulfilled my dream that meaningful work can be fun, and learning happens over a lifetime.
I can’t help but be exceedingly proud of all we have accomplished together.
- Successfully advocated for Pure Water recycling in the City of San Diego
- Won faster beach water quality testing
- Achieved a new watershed-based permit that allows cities and agencies to collaborate to reduce pollution
- Launched STEM “Water Kits” for elementary school kids all over the county
- Expanded the state’s largest volunteer water quality monitoring program
- Built partnerships with a wide range of community, industry and business groups
Now, after six and a half years with San Diego Coastkeeper, I’m ready for the next adventure—but I’m not going far! I’ll join San Diego Grantmakers as the senior director of collaborative philanthropy, a new position responsible for driving the organization’s member and cross-sector collaborations to address critical community issues. I will be with Coastkeeper until October 2, and you're encouraged to help find our next leader by sharing our executive director job description.
As we celebrate San Diego Coastkeeper’s 20th anniversary, the path forward is clear. Our board approved a strategic plan that guides our continued success (don’t miss the big ‘reveal’ at the Seaside Soiree!). And our incredible staff continues to grow and to outdo itself in expertise and innovation. Twenty years of clean water accomplishments and the dynamic team we have in place provide an incredible foundation from which the next executive director will springboard to another two decades of clean water work.
It has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to lead San Diego Coastkeeper and what comes next promises to be even better.
For fishable, swimmable, drinkable water,
San Diego Coastkeeper® seeks an education specialist to support the implementation and promotion of Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership), a hands-on K-6 science and pollution prevention curriculum in San Diego Unified School District. Project SWELL is implemented in partnership with the City of San Diego, Think Blue and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The student population represents more than 15 ethnic groups and more than 60 languages and dialects. This position requires travel to SDUSD schools and will report to the San Diego Coastkeeper Education Coordinator.
Please apply by August 20, 2015 at noon. Find the full job description and application instructions here.
San Diego Coastkeeper is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the fastest growing environmental movement in the world, protecting and restoring fishable, swimmable, drinkable water. Waterkeeper Alliance requires each of its member organizations to have a Waterkeeper, a full-time advocate, who speaks on behalf of the water. Matt O’Malley is San Diego Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper. We like him, and you will, too. Meet Matt.
How long have you've been a Waterkeeper for San Diego Coastkeeper?
Since January 2014. I've been involved with public-interest environmental and land-use law now for going on 13 years.
What encouraged you to enter this line of work?
I have a passion and a dedication for protecting and restoring our shared environment and improving the living conditions of all living things. As a Waterkeeper, I get to work on doing that every day.
Can you explain how beach pollution affects the waters?
Pollution of all kinds (trash, toxic substances such as metals and chemicals, fertilizer, just to name a few) enter into our waters and kill or injury many types of organisms, from invertebrates to fish to birds to even smaller living things. Those same pollutants often impact human health and the environment, too. Basically, they turn a healthy functioning waterbody into something that is no longer healthy or functioning.
How can young people get involved with keeping our water clean?
Volunteer! It's never too early to start contributing to your community and doing what you can. Participate in beach cleanups and water cleanups when that's available, but also start getting involved in the decisions your community representatives make. Go to meetings for the public and get informed. Information is key to a better society, and once you have that information you can begin to push for positive changes.
What are your responsibilities as a Waterkeeper?
I am responsible for being the voice for the waters of San Diego. I'm an attorney, and I'm often tasked with advocating for policies and laws that are protective of the environment. When that fails, I'm also responsible for enforcing the laws (like the Clean Water Act) against polluters. The waters and critters in the water need a voice, too!
When you take Coastkeeper’s boat, Clean Sweep, out on the water, what do you see?
There's the good: dolphins, whales, sea turtles, sharks, sea lions, seals, fish and all kinds of beauty in coastal San Diego waters. And then there's the bad: trash, sediment and pollutants. Then there are lots of pollutants you can't see because they're microscopic or dissolved in the water and the sediment under the water.
Have you noticed an increase or decrease when it comes to polluted waters?
Overall in the last 30+ years I've noticed our waters are healthier than they were when I was a kid growing up along the Hudson River in the 1970s. But, there are also waters that are getting worse, and across America a significant portion of waters are impaired (meaning, they are unhealthy), that still need a lot of work. We've got a long way to go!
Have you ever volunteered for a cause like this before your position as Waterkeeper?
Yes. I volunteer for several environmental groups, and I serve on the board of directors of a few. I even volunteered with San Diego Coastkeeper before I was hired. Volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people and help the environment, animals, and your community.
How much of your time, would you say, is devoted to this subject?
My whole life! But on a weekly basis, I probably work 50-60 hours. My passion for this makes it more than a job - it's a way of life for me to want to protect and restore our waters for today and for future generations.
We've been fighting to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for twenty years now. Here's a quick look at where we started, where we went and where we're headed.
It all started in 1995 with a staff of two on a mission to combat the chronic pollution of San Diego Bay that transformed a once-thriving ecosystem into a highly toxic waterbody. We negotiated the cleanup of 143,000 cubic yards of contaminated San Diego Bay sediment and helped reduce sewage spills in the City of San Diego by 90 percent and countywide beach advisories by 77 percent.
Since then, we have grown to a staff of seven and protect hundreds of miles of coastline, creeks, rivers and bays. Today, we lead solutions to water issues throughout the county for the communities and wildlife that depend on clean water and healthy habitats.
Over the past 20 years, thousands of volunteers have worked with us to contribute to environmental protection in San Diego County. We have completed more than 200 beach cleanups completed and prevented over a million pounds of trash from reaching the ocean. We have also trained more than 1,000 citizen scientists to monitor water quality and collect data each month at sites throughout San Diego County.
We successfully advocated to establish state-level protections for 15% of Southern California ocean water in marine protected areas. For the past three years, Coastkeeper has worked with Surfrider Foundation and WiLDCOAST to monitor the recreational use of these “Yosemites in the sea.” We also worked with UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering to develop a mobile app to record data.
Our Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership), developed in partnership with the City of San Diego and San Diego Unified School District, provides K-6 teachers with free hands-on environmental science lessons and materials. All teachers in San Diego County have access to this free program and we welcome requests to visit classrooms and informal educational programs.
San Diego County imports 85 percent of its water and San Diego Coastkeeper fought hard to get the City of San Diego to implement water conservation requirements to encourage sustainable use of our limited water resources. In 2014, we celebrated victory in a 15 year effort to convince the city to implement a wastewater recycling program. Once completed, this program will reduce and eliminate treated sewage discharges to the ocean and will generate one-third of the water the City of San Diego currently uses with fresh, local water supply.
Approved in June 2015, San Diego Coastkeeper’s new strategic plan identifies: strengthening water quality regulations, prioritizing conservation and other environmentally-preferred water supply sources and educating and activating residents as its priorities through 2018. With a growing population and serious four-year drought, San Diego Coastkeeper is particularly focused on: increasing water conservation among the general public through education and community engagement; working with policy makers to pass laws and regulations that mandate water conservation; and, reducing imported water by securing a sustainable local water supply.
Will you join us? We need your help. Here's 10 ways you can make a difference right now.
San Diego has aquaculture projects of various sizes and purposes in San Diego County. Each is a different form of aquaculture--which means they are in the business of fish production. While each of these projects exists today, there is also a major fish farm proposed in federal waters off San Diego’s shoreline that has our attention--Rose Canyon Fisheries.
But, we thought it could be helpful to explore the variety of other aquaculture projects that currently reside in San Diego County--two located on the shoreline and three located inland. These fish farms operate under established permits and/or standards created to protect the region's water quality, include regular monitoring to ensure the standards are met, and are in waters and lands leased from the government with an accompanying property right to locate there. These fish production businesses must adhere to water quality rules, and violations can be addressed through traditional legal and public comment means, and ultimately they remain accountable to our Regional Water Board and the general public. Many of these standards and avenues to ensure accountability would not apply to the proposed Rose Canyon Fisheries project mentioned above.
aquaculture project in San Diego, the Leon Raymond Hubbard, Jr., Marine Fish Hatchery sits in state waters. It was built in 1995 on property donated by San Diego Gas and Electric, and it aims to replenish white seabass populations lost to habitat changes in Southern California and to fishing pressure. It is overseen by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and has the capability to produce over 350,000 white seabass annually. The project is part of the Oceans Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program, through which the biological, ecological, and economic impacts will be assessed because it may serve as a model for future replenishment programs.Currently, the most prominent fish
The facility can produce over 350,000 juvenile white seabass annually, which get sent to one of 12 to 15 volunteer-run net pen facilities located on the coastline from San Diego to Santa Barbara. San Diego’s net pens are located in a boat slip in Mission Bay and at the foot of Grape Street Pier in San Diego Bay. When the fish reach a certain size, they are released into the ocean, free to grow to adulthood and reproduce in the wild for fishermen to catch.
Since 1990, this floating shellfish farm cultivates blue mussels, pacific oysters and seaweed. It now has a secondary line of products for “live-feed” that includes micro and macro algae, copepods, amphipods and brine shrimp. The farm uses sustainable suspended long-line fishing methods that cause minimal impact on the marine habitat, wild fish populations, water quality and the marine environment. Each day over 600 gallons of fresh seawater from the Pacific flows through the lagoon, providing a clean source of seawater and nutrients for the shellfish. This farm uses lab testing and UV purification systems to monitor environmental impact.
Inland Aquaculture Projects
Escondido has a tilapia farm called Portable Farms that says it uses a sustainable set up to produce tilapia and fresh vegetables simultaneously. The facility keeps tilapia in a 900-square-foot barn filled with pools and breeding tanks. Each year in a 6’ by 8’ space, it can produce 100 pounds of fish and 400 heads of lettuce without using soil or fertilizer. Tilapia Mama features a similar set-up and offers classes to anyone who wishes to learn how to raise tilapia and make their own backyard fish farm.
The California Koi Ponds began breeding and raising koi in 1974. People can visit the farm to see how they are bred and raised and to choose the fish you want to buy.
The Center for Aquaculture Technologies in San Diego
This facility handles work in salmonoids, shrimp, tilapia and zebrafish. It started in 2012 with a focus on advanced technologies to improve aquaculture productivity. It aims to expand its research facilities in fall 2015, which it says will house additional cold and warmwater marine and freshwater species.
Do you feel like making a difference today? We can help. Partner with San Diego Coastkeeper and maximize your impact on fishable, swimmable, drinkable water. Here are ten things you can do right now.
- 20th Anniversary Shirts
In 2015, San Diego Coastkeeper celebrates 20 years of fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in San Diego County. Now you can wear your support with our stylish 20th anniversary shirts. Get yours now with a donation of $35.
- Become a Member
Your investment will help continue the fight to protect fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in San Diego County. You can give the gift of clean water with a one-time donation or recurring donation. Give Here.
- Become an Admiral
When you join the Admiral’s Circle, you can enjoy exclusive membership benefits such as a special invitation to our annual Seaside Soiree, quarterly briefings with San Diego Coastkeeper staff and board, and an invitation to come abroad our patrol boat, Clean Sweep. Join Today.
- Attend an Event
Whether it is cleaning up your local beach on a beautiful day or attending one of our educational forums, San Diego Coastkeeper provides a range of fun events that everyone can enjoy. Check our calendar.
San Diego Coastkeeper depends on community members like you to amplify meaningful impacts on the health of San Diegoʼs waters. We canʼt do it without you. We have a range of fun volunteer opportunities from beach cleanups to water quality monitoring. Check them out here.
Amazon just got better. When you shop for all your needs on Amazon, remember to go to smile.amazon.com instead and designate San Diego Coastkeeper to receive 0.5% of your purchase every time you shop, at no additional cost to you! Sign In Here.
- Ralphs Rewards Card
Now, you can shop for groceries and donate to San Diego Coastkeeper. Thanks to Ralphs Community Contribution Program, every time you use your Ralphs Rewards card, a portion of your purchase will automatically be donated to San Diego Coastkeeper. So go on, shop at Ralphs today – and don't forget your reusable bags! Enroll Here.
Want to wear locally sourced, 100% organic cotton apparel? PuraKai clothing is ocean friendly and when you purchase the San Diego Coastkeeper shirt, $5 will be donated to San Diego Coastkeeper.
- Art House United
These handmade bracelets are made from 100% reclaimed leather. You can rock the San Diego Coastkeeper leather bracelet and 50% of your purchase will be donated to San Diego Coastkeeper, or you can wear any reclaimed leather bracelet and 10% of your purchase will be donated to San Diego Coastkeeper. Now that’s stylish.
- Sand Cloud
Sand Cloud is dedicated to protecting our waters with unique beach towels and beach apparel. When you purchase items from Sand Cloud, a portion of your purchase is donated to San Diego Coastkeeper. We know that in San Diego, you can never have too many beach towels, so go on and support towels that give back.
The 18th annual Seaside Soiree is coming up! This year's event runs from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. with VIP Entertainment and Boat Rides starting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28 at the Bali Hai. Here are just a few reasons why you should be stoked for the Seaside Soiree!
- You have an excuse to drink Bali Hai's famous mai tais. This year's Seaside Soiree will take place at the Bali Hai on Shelter Island, so if you've been dying to try one of Bali Hai's World Famous Mai Tais, now is your chance! Trust me, you won't need the summer sun to get an afterglow from these punchy drinks.
- You can shake hands with Bobby. Someone must have mentioned the Koch brothers, because Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will give a keynote address to guests at the event! I mean, who wouldn't want to say they've rubbed elbows with a Kennedy?
- Although it's not summer, you can still wear your Hawaiian shirt. Didn't get a chance to wear your Hawaiian shirt this summer? Worry not, this event is at the Bali Hai, so tropical patterns are totally appropriate. Besides, we all know that environmentalists love nature-themed prints.
- Because 20 years of fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters is worth celebrating. It's been twenty years since two gutsy water lovers took action to stop the toxic dumping that was slowly killing San Diego Bay. We are celebrating San Diego's new water recycling program after a 15-year battle, twelve years of volunteer water quality data collection, free environmental STEM education lessons, and beach water quality testing that can deliver water quality results to your phone in hours rather than days...and many more accomplishments to come!
- Did we mention Bali Hai's mai tais? Do I even have to explain?
- You can shamelessly stuff your face with delicious food. Good news: grazing is completely allowed at this event with our roaming buffet. You'll get to gorge on some mouth-watering Polynesian food while socializing with water conservation hot shots.
- You might even win something. Wouldn't it be great if you came home with something awesome? Bring your competitive spirit and winning strategy to try your luck for some great prizes at our opportunity drawing and auction.
- Water is kind of a big deal. In case you haven't noticed, California is in a bit of a drought. This event raises money to support San Diego Coastkeeper's work on water quality and water supply issues in San Diego County. Since we all need fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water, it's a cause worth supporting.
- You can enjoy a gorgeous San Diego sunset by the water. At this evening event, you'll have the chance to watch the sunset over San Diego Bay while mingling at the edge of the beautiful waters you're helping protect.
- It's going to be a blast. Bobby Kennedy, potent mai tais, yummy food, and a beautiful sunset. Need I say more?
We love Explorer Elementary. After learning about pollution and water science from our interactive Project SWELL curriculum, Explorer Elementary teachers took their dedication to immersing students in environmental science concepts to a whole new level. Here's a description they wrote about their latest project.
We are third grade students at Explorer Elementary Charter School and we studied plastic pollution and its effects on our environment. We learned that it is bad to throw trash or plastic on the ground, because it can go down storm drains and into the ocean. Marine life, birds and other animals often think the plastic is food. If they eat it they can get sick or die. This disrupts the food chain.
Plastic pollution doesn’t only affect sea life and animals. It also affects people. If the ocean is polluted, you can get sick from swimming in it. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It just gets smaller and smaller. The smallest thing can still make a gigantic impact. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an island of trash and plastic that never goes away. It just circles around and around due to ocean currents.
For our project, we wanted to educate people about plastic. First, we collected plastic from our homes and from our school. We worked in groups to choose which plastic pieces to use and laid the pieces out in the shape of different animals affected by plastic. We made multiple drafts and were critiqued by our teacher for each draft. We made posters from our photographs. Then we made notecards with our photos and a message. We sold them to raise money for San Diego Coastkeeper who helps keep our oceans clean. We hope people stop using plastic, or use reusable plastic rather than single use plastic, to help the world. If we stop using so much plastic we can stop the problem!
- Explorer Elementary Third Grade
This year is our 20th anniversary and we are proud to announce the Coastal Champions on World Oceans Day. These individuals, organizations and businesses have helped ensure that San Diego County has had fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for the past twenty years and for the next twenty years. Join us in honoring them by reserving your seat to the breakfast celebration at Birch Aquarium on Monday, June 8 at 7 a.m.
Lighthouse Lifetime Achievement
Skip and Donna Frye: Lifelong surfers and waterlovers, Skip and Donna Frye are both also clean water activists and environmental leaders. These two have given back to San Diego in many ways and have positively impacted our local community. In the 1990s, they founded Surfers Tired of Pollution to raise awareness about water pollution and to educate the community about the harmful impacts of pollution. Together, they fight for clean water safety standards in San Diego and ensure that San Diego has fishable, swimmable and drinkable water.
Volunteer of the Year
Allison Scofield: Over the past twenty years, we have been supported by our dedicated volunteers who make powerful impacts in our community. Allison is one of San Diego Coastkeeper’s most dedicated lab volunteers. Since 2010, Allison has been analyzing nutrients and fecal indicator bacteria for Coastkeeper’s water quality monitoring program once a month, even when she was in school at UCLA. She’s known around the office as an expert analyzer and an enthusiastic volunteer.
Nielsen and Beaumont Marine, Inc.: Nielsen and Beaumont Marine, Inc. is leading its boatyard community in preventing runoff with their modern, environmentally advanced facility. Nielsen and Beaumont Marine, Inc. designed their boatyard to capture and collect stormwater for treatment and storage, and it is more advanced than current stormwater regulations for boatyards. San Diego Coastkeeper and our community appreciates their efforts to prevent harm to our waters.
Brickman Group: San Diego is currently in a water crisis. We import more than eighty percent of our water from outside the area and much of it goes to landscaping. Thanks to Brickman Group, you can create a beautiful yard with native, drought resistant plants that will make your neighbors jealous. Brickman Group is helping local residents conserve water with water management services such as turf removal, native planting, soil nutrition and smart irrigation systems.
Ocean Discovery Institute: San Diego Coastkeeper loves educating about marine science and so does Ocean Discovery Institute. Ocean Discovery Institute was founded in 1999 to teach young people about science and conservation. Over the past 16 years, Ocean Discovery Institute has educated thousands of students, trained teachers, and engaged volunteers to help restore local wildlife habitats. Their work has inspired young people to become environmental leaders and make a difference in our community.
Find & Fix
John W. Stump: John Stump exemplifies this award: he found a pollution problem and immediately decided to fix it. John came across harmful debris and waste in the Chollas Creek and called a plan of action by alerting and mobilizing the community and the media of this pollution problem. This action had an immediate response from the City of San Diego and workers removed the harmful debris and waste, laid a layer of gravel and installed fencing and bumpers to mitigate future runoff pollution. San Diego Coastkeeper and Chollas Creek thanks John for being a community activist and environmental leader.
ECOLIFE Conservation: Do you love fresh, organic produce? Gardening or farming? Working with your hands? Well, if you said yes to any of these, then now you can have it all thanks to ECOLIFE. ECOLIFE develops aquaponic systems: a sustainable farming technique that is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponic farming, and they are bringing it to San Diego. These aquaponic systems allow individuals to grow fresh, organic produce and fish while only using ten percent of the land and water in comparison to traditional farming. ECOLIFE hosts community workshops and provides aquaponic kits as teaching curriculum in schools. Also, ECOLIFE has solar-powered greenhouses and rainwater collection barrels to be even more sustainable. How awesome are they.
Haley Cahill was our education intern from January to June 2015. She is majoring in Environmental Studies at the University of San Diego and believes the answer to improving many of the threats that our environment faces, starts with education. Haley helped us to bring Project SWELL into San Diego Unified School District classrooms.
“Do you talk about gross stuff?” was the first question I received as I set up my presentation for these elementary school kids. I immediately replied with a “yes” and the 5th grade boy replied with a fist pump and an enthusiastic “Yes!”
I laughed, but I was thrilled to see these kids excited about pollution. As an education intern, I attended Bird Rock Elementary’s inaugural STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Discovery Day, to try and ignite a passion for protecting and restoring our water in our next generation of leaders.
I love talking to students, it’s vital to instill in them why we need to care about our environment. Attending allowed me to see that Project SWELL, our water science education curriculum, is making a huge a difference! In each group of of kids, at least a few were already familiar with some of the material I was teaching. They would yell out an answer, or point out that they noticed pollution the last time they were at the beach.
As I looked out at all the faces I asked if anyone had ever been to a beach clean up. I was pleasantly surprised to see that over half had! These kids are already aware that their environment needs to be taken care of if they want to keep it healthy so they can continue to enjoy it as they do now. And the best part? They are excited to do it!
I can’t wait to meet other students as eager to learn as these kids were!