Swimmable Water Weekend is back! July 25 - 27 is a weekend to celebrate clean water by visiting your favorite beach. To celebrate this year, we are hosting a contest on Instagram: #swimmableSD.
How do you enter?
Post a picture on Instagram showing how you enjoy your favorite beach. Are you a surfer? Parasailer? Paddleboarder? Or do you enjoy simply soaking in the sun just out of reach of the tide?
Post your picture showing what swimmable water means to you and tag it with #swimmableSD. We will pick our favorites and the winners will receive a #swimmableSD Gift Pack from us. Follow us @SD_Coastkeeper and enjoy the water!
P.S. Feel free to step up your game by making a #swimmablewater video to participate in the international Waterkeeper #swimmablewater video contest.
High Tech High Blog Series: Blog 6 of 7
What comes to mind when you read the word “fertilizer?” Lawns? Farms? Family garden projects? What about water pollution and dead zones?
It’s hard to believe a substance famous for helping plants flourish in one environment can destroy other environments only a few miles away in our lakes, rivers and ocean.
Fertilizers are made up of mostly nitrogen and phosphorus which, when applied sparingly and responsibly, can create a healthy, strong plant. But when overuse and over watering cause these compounds to flow into other areas, they cause aquatic plants to grow out of control and overrun their delicate ecosystems.
This is Where YOU Come In.
Yes, YOU and everyone with a lawn or garden can help end fertilizer pollution. It takes a lot of work to keep nonnative plants alive in Southern California, because those plants natively thrived in a much wetter, more fertile environment. Instead of breaking out the hose and fertilizer spreader, consider the many beautiful and delicate native plants that love the Southern California heat.
These plants love the San Diego climate as much as you do:
- Miniature Hollyhock - White Sage
- California Lilac - Wooly Blue Curls
- Manzanita - Desert Mallow
- Baby Blue Eyes - Ian Bush
And many more native plants.
If you can’t bear to part with your beautiful garden, try a natural fertilizer like recycled coffee grounds (free from Starbucks!) before you heap on the chemicals. Remember, there’s always a natural alternative. You just have to be willing to find it.
Heavy metal contamination can come from a variety of sources: the paint on boats, zinc in your tires, etc. Heavy metals contaminate the water and settle along the ocean floor where bottom feeders tend to feed. Though only small amounts of metal is consumed, when larger fish that are higher up in the food chain eat the bottom feeders, a higher concentration of the toxin is then present in their body. This is chain reaction is called biomagnification. Since humans are the top on the food chain, humans are also affected by biomagnification, making it a subtle yet dangerous problem.
Sewage is a large environmental problem but not for the reasons that most people think. A big reason why sewage is a problem is because of the excess hormones released in human waste. Only a small percentage of medication is absorbed into the body while the rest is expelled and finds its way to the ocean in sewage. Although wastewater treatment plants are able to remove around half of the hormones, there are still many steps that we need to take to remove the problem completely.
High Tech High Blog Series: Blog 4 of 7
How We Contribute to the Problem
We are the problem.
The county outputs 175 million gallons of sewage every day through the Wastewater Treatment Plant on the end of Point Loma. The waste travels out a 4.5-mile tank and is dumped through a 12 ft. diameter pipe into deep ocean water. This is problematic because many believe the pollutants dumped along with this waste are harmful to the environment.
The amount of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) introduced to our environment is a leading cause of concern. With the amount of individuals taking prescription and non-prescription drugs on the rise, scientists fear an increase in bacterial resistance.
Medicine Can Be Toxic?
Additionally, the increase in the use of birth control, which is among these medications that are not regulated and enters our sewage system at 90 percent effectiveness, is responsible for disrupting our endocrine hormones inducing things like breast cancer, endometriosis, birth defects, abnormal sexual development, lowered sperm counts. There have also been world-wide accounts of the feminization of male fish near sewage treatment plants.
These untreated PPCPs travel through our sewage, surface and ground water, eventually affecting our drinking water and working their way up the food chain through bio magnification.
Due to the population increase and a larger consumption of drugs per capita, PPCP use and therefore contamination is on the rise. Even low levels of medicines found in our waterways hurt fish and aquatic life. Especially around these “hot spots,” that is areas close to sewage runoff, researchers have observed negative changes in fish behavior and reproduction.
How We Can Help
Learn more about Proper Disposal of Medications and Pharmaceuticals. Also, help the issue by supporting clean and sustainable water through potable reuse projects!
Supporting new legislation to change sewage treatment plant treatment processes to better remove PPCP is another great way to contribute to the cause.
Plastic, though it was seen as a great technological advancement, has shown the world and the environment it’s dark side. Plastic, which has been used in just about every field, from medicine, to toys, has taken a huge toll on our environment. It washes up on beaches, is ingested by animals, and disrupts ecosystems. But that isn't all. Plastic has a bigger environmental impact than most think. We use oil to produce all the plastic that is used around the world making it so we are manufacturing our own demise
What are the sources of pollution?
To understand the problem with plastic pollution, a group of students researched the common sources and effects of plastic pollution. As a result of their research, they found that 90 percent of the ocean’s trash is actually plastic. Research shows that 80 percent of the marine debris, including plastics, comes from land while 20 percent comes from boats. The most common sources of this pollution are disposable plastics like bags and bottles, and fishing gear that come from ships.
What are the effects?
The students discovered that the problem with plastic pollution is that the plastics last forever-this means the plastic continues to pollute the environment at every stage of its existence. Because of this, the ecosystem of the ocean, animals, and people are affected negatively. Animals can accidentally ingest or get entangled in plastics, leading to fatal results, while the marine debris in the ocean can harm the aquatic vegetation or suffocate coral.
How can it be fixed?
After finding out how plastic pollution can have negative impacts on the environment, the students moved on to figuring out how people today could fix the problem:
1. Find alternative to plastics, like reusable bags and water bottles
2. Throw away or recycle plastics and trash properly rather than litter
4. Support single-use plastic bag bans
What has been done so far?
Beach cleanup data from Coastkeeper beach cleanups suggests that a lot of the trash that was picked up was plastic. Because plastic is non-biodegradable, it will only keep breaking down into microscopic pieces in the ocean, making it much harder to actually clean up all of the plastic in the ocean. Also, the borken down plastic begin to resemble plankton, a common food source for marine life. So by completing these beach cleanups every year, more of the plastic that ends up on the beach can be picked up before it ends up in the ocean to break down and further pollute the environment.
Watershed Management Plan
The City of San Diego, University of CA, San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD/SIO), and San Diego Coastkeeper make up the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Group. Their priority is to manage urban runoff and protect the health of the two adjacent ASBS's in La Jolla (see picture right).
In 2008 the group authored the Watershed Management Plan that was developed from a series of stakeholder and project partner meetings. Experts from the fields of urban runoff management, ocean and environmental science, data management, and public participation were consulted to develop a holistic program to address the complex issues and California Ocean Plan standards associated with an ASBS.
La Jolla Shores has an ASBS Protection Implementation Program that represents the initial stage of ASBS protection. It supports four essential and interactive components of the Watershed Management Plan, including:
- Urban Runoff Management - addresses needs to reduce watershed pollutant impacts and the prohibition of waste discharges into an ASBS
- Ocean Ecosystem Assessment - addresses the need to identify health of the resources, impact of runoff, and effectiveness of management measures
- Information Systems - addresses the need to develop resource management tool serving variety of end users
- Public Participation - addresses the need to engage public in protection and management of resource
By incorporating all four components, the two La Jolla Shores ASBS will be protected by reducing urban runoff pollutants from discharges and establishes important assessment and monitoring tools. The focus is to reduce or eliminate the primary sources of water quality threats. This plan will provide multiple benefits by protecting not only the ASBS; it also includes high use public beaches and two Marine Protected Areas nearby.
Incorporating Information Management into ASBS Management
Integrated information management systems are a critical tool to efficiently assess and manage regulatory programs. Information management systems can display data in the interrelated language that biological-physical-chemical processes present in the watershed and marine environment. These data can then be assessed and available to a wide range of users that span both regulatory and non-regulatory based data collection efforts.
Our goal was to design a modular problem driven application that builds upon different standards and protocols.
We strived to emulate existing ocean observing systems web portals for ease of navigation and familiarity. Utilizing open standard formats and protocols enables access to varying structures and distributed data sources. Since some of the data shown on the website is derived from other sources, the goal has been to access services or data directly instead of hosting copies. This format allows for varying data types enabling a customized portal.
The online tool that is entering its' beta testing mode now, was designed to establish the infrastructure needs and generate a conceptual design that is required for long term assessment of ASBS performance and related management decisions. The system will expand upon the current information management framework developed by UCSD/SIO for the La Jolla Shores Coastal Watershed Management Plan. Local and regional information sharing initiatives are promoted, and support low impact development (LID), water conservation, and public engagement through outreach and data visualization. The end-product will be to develop a usable information system for a range of users.
The greatest attribute of this site is it allows for various data layers to be viewed together spatially via a central map. While providing metadata, specific data values and time series.
- Large map with slide-able side panels
- Adjustable map-time
- Time series of selected data
- Specific layers have options which can be changed once selected
- Collapsible legends
- Metadata for each layer and links to special studies and documents
- Map bookmarks to help you zoom to areas of interest
The data layers that are included in online tool are grouped by near-real time observations, static point observations, and spatial observations/models.
- San Diego ASBS Meteorological Sensors – Meteorological stations along the coast provide wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, rainfall, and water temperature data.
- San Diego ASBS Outfall Monitoring Stations – Seawater and storm water outfalls at Scripps Institution of Oceanography that are monitored in accordance with the California Ocean Plan.
- San Diego ASBS Bacteria Monitoring Stations – Bacteria monitoring in the surf zone is performed weekly in the San Diego-Scripps Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS). Data shown are the last reported results sent to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
- Harmful Algae & Red Tide Regional Monitoring Program – Water samples and net tows are collected once per week to monitor for HAB (Harmful Algal Blooms) species, and naturally occurring algal toxins, as well as water temperature, salinity, and nutrients. Occurs at 8 piers along the California coastline.
- State of California ASBS System Boundaries – boundaries of the 34 designated coastal regions in the California Ocean Plan as Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) in an effort to preserve these unique and sensitive marine ecosystems for future generations.
- Historic Probability Exposure Maps (2008-2009) – estimated spatial extent of the surface plume for a historical dataset from 2008-2009, to determine the probabilities of exposure of each ASBS to coastal discharges for annual circulation patterns.
- High Frequency Radar Surface Currents – Data collected from high-frequency (HF) radar can be used to infer the speed and direction of ocean surface currents (to 1 meters depth).
- Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) Model Output – a model produced and distributed by Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE) at UCLA and the west coast office of Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc.
- Sea Surface Temperature – analysis map layer displays the NOAA/ NWS/National Centers for Environmental Prediction's (NCEP) daily, high-resolution, global sea surface temperature analysis.
- Winds - The North American Mesoscale Model (NAM), refers to a numerical weather prediction model run by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for short-term weather forecasting.
- Wave Height - Wave Watch III (WW3) is a third generation wave model developed at NOAA/NWS/NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction).
Cigarettes are not only harmful to humans, but to our environment as well. Often times, cigarette butts are improperly disposed of and washed into our oceans when it rains. Cigarettes are highly toxic to marine life, even in the smallest of doses. Ingesting or even being in cigarette contaminated water can kill marine animals, making this a serious problem that needs to be addressed.