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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
ucsdluau61Skip 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.

Runoff Rockstar
HomePhoto1Nielsen 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.

Water Wise
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.

Marine Conservation
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.

Blue Tech
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.



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coastkeeper 20th logo

It’s been twenty years since two gutsy water lovers took action to stop the toxic dumping that was slowly killing San Diego Bay. In 1995, they created San Diego Baykeeper and

And as the need became apparent, we turned our attention countywide. Now we're known as San Diego Coastkeeper--the region’s water quality and water supply watchdog. We’ve grown from a team of two into a movement of thousands of volunteers, members, sponsors and partners passionate about working together to make San Diego more fishable, swimmable and drinkable.

Today we bring together science, education and advocacy to address the region’s most pressing concerns.

bruce1That is celebrateable.

Take a look back at our 20-year timeline of water victories and check out our top accomplishments page to reminisce about all the water wins of the past twenty years.

And take a look ahead. We are already knee-deep in the next twenty years of fighting for our region’s health.

  • We are back in San Diego Bay, bringing south bay industrial polluters to task for dirtying our water.
  • Our water quality lab is investigating impacts and root causes of the death-by-one-thousand-cuts that strangles our waterways with urban runoff.
  • And we are fighting like mad to ensure that the urgency created by statewide drought fuels common sense conservation and innovative new water management practices like recycling and stormwater capture, but doesn’t justify bad choices like energy-hungry desalination.


Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or are just joining us now, we want you to be part of this movement. Attend our Coastal Champions Awards Ceremony on June 8 and our Seaside Soiree in October. We’re proud to share this celebratory year with you and in honor of you. We celebrate 20 years of victories, but more than that, we celebrate the 20 years to come.

San Diego Coastkeeper stands on the shoulders of those who came before us. And we are leaning in to lift up those who come after us. But for today, you, I and everyone in this movement stands together for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water throughout San Diego County.

Let’s get to work, Megan























flyer 1


Flyer 3


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hendershot no blue copyBruce and Beth Hendershot are rockstars. The dynamic duo makes up half of our Lower Escondido Creek water monitoring team, a group of four individuals who met through our Water Quality Monitoring program and decided to adopt the entire Lower Escondido Creek region. Every month, the Hendershots get together to brave dense foliage, the elements and all kinds of insects to bring us water samples to analyze in the lab. You can feel their energy in the air when the Hendershots stop by the office to pick up kits. They are model volunteers - coordinating kit pick-ups and drop-offs with their team and going above and beyond to provide high-quality usable data to the program.

In 2014, Bruce and Beth collectively gave 80 hours - two full weeks of their time - to the Water Quality Monitoring program. In 2013 the duo received the Volunteer of the Year award at Coastkeeper’s Coastal Champion Awards. We got a chance to talk with them about their experience with San Diego Coastkeeper. Here’s what they said:

K: How did you first hear about Water Quality Monitoring, and why did you decide to join the program?

H: We heard about Coastkeeper Water Quality Monitoring through my Surfrider membership-years ago. We worked on their Blue Water Task Force. They pointed us to you!

K: You are both so committed. What keeps you coming back to the program month after month?

H: First of all, we choose to stay involved month after month because we believe that the Water Quality Monitoring program is vitally important, worthwhile, produces critical results that can guide policy and citizen behavior, and is desperately needed for the health of our local water supply & environment. Second, we admire and enjoy the Coastkeeper team and other volunteers. We have learned so much through our participation in various Coastkeeper activities. We cherish the long, lasting friendships that have resulted from our work with Coastkeeper. (And…we like our “playtime” with all of you, too!)

K: What does clean water mean to you? Why do you think it is an important goal for our city and region?

H: It is not just an important goal…it is a MUST – and absolute requirement for our city, region and boundaries far beyond! Clean water impacts the health, wellbeing and future of us all – people, animals, habitats, the entire environment, businesses, etc. It is the responsibility of us all – personally & collectively.

K: What do you do when you are not out collecting samples for San Diego Coastkeeper (jobs, hobbies, interests, etc)?

H: We are both retired, but are often busier than when we were both working full-time! Activities include mountain biking, hiking, camping, rollerblading, kayaking, scuba diving, traveling, computer projects, charity projects & other volunteering, and beach cleanups are at the top of our list.

K: We are so humbled by all that we have gained from your help in the program, but what, if anything, do you feel you have gained from participating as volunteers?

H: It is Bruce and I who are humbled & grateful for the privilege and opportunity to work with the Coastkeeper team! The work you do is extremely important and becomes more so as we continue to learn new things about the diversity of work you do. We’ve gained a better understanding of our local water system –the natural & man-made components. We see how the water cycle is interdependent  & impacted by seemingly minuscule and blatantly large factors. We are alarmed by the local pollution –up and down our watershed (especially the pollution which could be prevented). We’ve gained a better understanding of the chemistry of clean and polluted water, the effect of weather patterns, human activity, etc. And, we have changed the way we do things in our own life, home, outdoor activities, time with friends, etc. based on what we have learned during our time with Coastkeeper!

We love the Hendershots.

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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.


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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This year's Seaside Soiree will feature the following incredible prize packages for auction. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, buy them now here!

Food. Drinks. Fishy Dance Moves.
September 10, 2014.
6pm - 9pm
Scripps Seaside Forum


  1. Mammoth Lakes Mountain Getaway
    Discover Mammoth Lakes Mountain with this seven (7) night stay (over one weekend) at a private home approximately 3,000 square feet with three (3) stories including three (3) bedrooms and four (4) baths. Have fun with the game room that includes ping pong, bumper pool, darts and workout equipment. Relax with a cozy fire place, wireless internet, stereos and TV with DVD player. The house is within walking distance of the Village and Gondola for skiing, and a short drive to Canyon Lodge. *Winner to coordinate directly with owner. Dates are subject to availability and owner's approval and must be completed by December 2015. Christmas and President's Day are not available in 2014. Up to eight (8) people.

  2. Day on San Diego BaysailboatExplore San Diego Bay on a 33 foot classic wooden "PC" sailboat with three-time Olympic medalist, Mark Reynolds. Enjoy a day on the San Diego Bay with you and three friends for a three to four hour tour. *Valid until March 2015. Scheduled date will be determined by Mr. Reynolds and will depart from San Diego Yacht Club, Point Loma. Tour will take place between 11AM-5PM.

  3. VIP Wine Tasting and Tour II
    Enjoy a VIP wine tasting and tour at J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines in Paso Robles, CA. You and your guests (up to eight total) will enjoy this world-class, sustainable winery, explore the property, participate in barrel tasting, tour the facility and enjoy complimentary tasting of the current wines. You will also receive a 20% discount on all purchases that day. Valued at $400. *By appointment, weekdays only. Excludes festival and holiday weekends. All attendees must be 21 years of age.

  4. Golfing in Style
    Win this package and play golf in style with a right hand man's driver and headcover, and a stand bag from Callaway Golf. Every golfer will love this package. Valued at $520.

  5. Take a Nature Walk with Jo Brooks at the Tijuana Estuary Tour
    Discover the native plants and the singing birds at the Tijuana Estuary with a tour led by Jo Brooks. This is an excellent place to enjoy and explore the natural beauty in San Diego.


  6. Skye Walker Art I
    Win this print from creative, ocean-loving artist, Skye Walker. Skye Walker has been an artist his whole life and is passionate about all forms of art: paintings, graphic design, murals, and more. You can visit his latest mural at the California Coast Credit union in Hillcrest.

  7. Skye Walker Art II
    Win this print and limited edition reusable water bottle from creative, ocean-loving artist, Skye Walker. Skye Walker has been an artist his whole life and is passionate about all forms of art: paintings, graphic design, murals, and more. You can visit his latest mural at the California Coast Credit union in Hillcrest.

  8. Connie Cannon
    Win this "In Italy" collage from Connie Cannon who creates abstract art. Connie Cannon incorporates warm and vibrant colors into her art expressing her passioSeaQuilt ElCamino-smn and love for abstract art. Valued at $225.

  9. Quilt
    Win these beautiful, handmade quilt pieces from El Camino Quilters. The underwater themed quilts will be a great addition to any home or office in San Diego County.

  10. Abe Ordover
    A true nature lover, Abe Ordover enjoys taking photographs of the beautiful nature we live in. Abe Ordover's stunning photographs have been shown in gallery shows and museums across the country including New York City, Atlanta, Palo Alto, Nashville, Dallas and San Diego. Abe currently operates the gallery at the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. His most recent shows have been at the L Street Gallery here in San Diego and also at University of San Diego.

  11. Steve Blackwell
    Steve Blackwell grew up in New York and San Diego, then worked as a park ranger in Yosemite. He is known for his many paintings of the Sierra Nevada. Steve worked as a wildlife biologist throughout California and gives educational hikes about the native plants. Since moving to the Pacific Coast, his art reflects the local marine environment. You can visit his art at the AIR Gallery in Laguna Beach and most of the proceeds go to the SoCal Land and Water Conservancy.


  12. Girl's Day
    You don't want to miss out on winning this package. You and two friends can attend a workout class from Bar Method - Solana Beach with your 30-day unlimited classes pass and two guest passes. Then enjoy getting a manicure or pedicure from Gel Touch Nail Spa with your fourteen $10 gift certificates and finish the day with relaxing in a luxurious robe and a pair of sheepskin slippers from UGG Australia. Valued at $585. *Bar Method only in Solana Beach; valid until September 15, 2015. Gel Touch Nail Spa valid until April 15, 2015.

  13. Dancing and Dinner for the Family
    Have your family explore different types of dance at Malashock Dance Company with four adult and four children dance classes. There is no need to worry if you are a beginner, Malashock Dance Company welcomes all levels. Also, enjoy two admission tickets to the Malashock/RAW 5 Performance at the Lyceum Theater in Horton Plaza. After the show, eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with two $25 gift cards. Valued at $160. *Valid until November 1, 2014. For children classes, ages 3 and up. For adult classes, beginners through advanced level.

  14. Dinner and a Museum
    Enjoy an evening out exploring Maritime Museum on Harbor Island and then dinner at Slater's 50/50 in Liberty Station. Explore one of the world's greatest collection of historic ships, including the Star of India at the Maritime Museum with four admission tickets. Then head over to Slater's 50/50 with two $10 gift certificates for craft burgers and a lengthy local, craft beer selection. Need a boost? Grab a coffee or beverage from Starbucks with a $10 gift card. Valued at $84. *Maritime Museum of San Diego admission tickets are not valid for special events.

  15. Two for Dinner and a Show
    Attend one of the many 2014-2015 season performances at the La Jolla Playhouse with two admission tickets. Also, enjoy two admission tickets to the San Diego Symphony and explore the wonders of incredible music. After the show, eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with two $25 gift cards. Valued at $210-320. *La Jolla Playhouse valid for 2014-2015 season. Only valid for the first two weeks of performances and excludes all Saturday evening performances. Not valid for any musical or special engagements. San Diego Symphony valid until April 10, 2015. Admission tickets to any regular 2014-2015 winter season performance.

  16. Kids Day Out
    This one is for the family. Connect and explore with music through hands-on exhibits and programs at the Museum of Making Music with four admission tickets. Then get creative at the New Children's Museum with a family four-pack of guest passes. Here, you will have the opportunity to create art and interactive with exhibits. Also, win a family four-pack of guest passes and discover local wildlife at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Here, you can interact with animals and explore their natural habitats. Need a boost? Enjoy a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Valued at $160. *Museum of Making Music valid until September 10, 2015.

  17. Exploring Art
    Win four guest passes to the Museum of Contemporary Art and enjoy the day indulging in art exhibits and experiencing the local culture. Then head over to the Mingei International Museum with four guest passes to discover art, craft and design from all eras and cultures around the world. After a long day, relax with a $25 gift card to Panera Bread. Valued at $97.

  18. History in Balboa Park
    See the wonders of Balboa Park with four guest passes to Mingei International Museum and four guest passes to San Diego History Center. Discover art, craft and design from all eras and cultures around the world at the Mingei International Museum. Then stroll over to San Diego History Center and explore the historic story of our local community. Need a boost? Grab a coffee or beverage from Starbucks with a $10 gift card. Valued at $74. *San Diego History Center guest passes valid until August 2015.

  19. Science in Balboa Park
    See the wonders of Balboa Park with four admission tickets to San Diego Air and Space Museum and two admission tickets to Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Celebrate the history of aviation and space flight and explore the many exhibits to understand the technology and science needed in air and space exploration. Then stroll over to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and explore the hands-on science exhibits and discover your imagination. Need a boost? Enjoy a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Valued at $116. *Reuben H. Fleet Science Center admission tickets valid until July 14, 2015.

  20. Private Wolf Tour
    Enjoy a private tour with California Wolf Center for up to four people. Learn about Rocky Mountain gray wolves and Mexican gray wolves and experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe these animals. Valued at $200. *Private tours are scheduled between Monday and Friday. Availability is limited. Call for reservations.

  21. Be Active in San Diego
    Enjoy the natural beauty through outdoor adventure with Hike, Bike, Kayak and Moment Bicycles. Win a two-hour guided tour of La Jolla's ecological marine reserve and sea caves for four people. Moment Bicycles specializes in Dynamic Bike Fit and this package includes a three-day bike rental. They have carbon and aluminum road bikes and carbon triathlon bikes to choose from. Valued at $379. *Call Hike, Bike, Kayak for reservations. Moment Bicycles valid until December 31, 2014. Call to schedule your rental.

  22. One for the Guys
    Win two beginner climbing packages from Mesa Rim Climbing Center and a luxurious robe and pair of sheepskin slippers from UGG Australia. Mesa Rim is the largest indoor climbing gym on the west coast and has the highest walls in San Diego. Get ready to discover your passion for indoor climbing with two day passes, two gear rentals and two belay lessons. Then after an exciting day of climbing, relax in your new robe and slippers. Valued at $325. *Call Mesa Rim for reservations.

  23. Send a Letter to a Friend
    Sending a card to an old friend or a family member will help brighten their day. Win this package of greeting cards from June Rubin Studio and Gallery and from Outside The Lens. Also, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while you write your letters with a $10 Starbucks gift card. Valued at $155.

  24. Lunch and a Garden for Two
    Enjoy lunch at Panera Bread with a $25 gift card and then explore San Diego Botanic Garden's 4 miles of trails on 37 acres with two guest passes. The San Diego Botanical Garden is a great place to relax and enjoy the garden, learn about gardening or bird watch. Want to get some fun exercise in? Head down to UTC Ice Sports Center and use your Ice Funcard for admission. Valued at $113. *San Diego Botanical Garden valid until September 2015. UTC Ice Funcard valid for public admission only.

Click here to buy your tickets now!

Food. Drinks. Fishy Dance Moves.
September 10, 2014.
6pm - 9pm
Scripps Seaside Forum


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Swimmable Bear 3 Fishes StudioSwimmable 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. Post by the end of the day on July 25. On July 28, we will pick our favorites and the winners will receive a #SwimmableSD Gift Pack from us. Follow us @SD_Coastkeeper and enjoy the water!

But wait, there's more!

You can also tag your photo with #SwimmableCA to enter an Instagram and Twitter contest hosted by our friends at California Coastkeeper Alliance. Along with their sponsors WeWork offices, Rubio's and Pura Vida Bracelets, they will select and announce winners on August 1 in these three categories:

  1. The best Swimmable Photo by a WeWork member (swimmable summer fun package + a ticket to WeWork's summer camp in New York!)
  2. The best Swimmable Photo
  3. The best non-swimming Swimmable Photo


Feel free to step up your game by making a #swimmablewater video to participate in the international Waterkeeper #swimmablewater video contest.

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Looking for an easy way to help improve San Diego's beaches, bays and rivers?

volunteer san diegoHere at San Diego Coastkeeper, we take tremendous pride in our efforts to protect our fishable, swimmable and drinkable water in San Diego; however, protecting all that water is no easy feat. We are grateful to all of our supporters who come out to events or donate to our cause. Now with help from businesses and other outlets there are more ways for you to make a difference. Below are five easy ways to help us make a big impact throughout San Diego.

  1. Make an Online Donation: Your contribution will help continue the fight to protect swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. You can give a one-time donation or you can give the gift of clean, plentiful waters by giving a membership to yourself or your loved ones. Give Here.
  2. Ralphs Reward Card Community Contribution Program: Now, you can shop for groceries and donate to 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 when you enroll in its Community Rewards Program. So go on, shop at Ralphs today – and don't forget your reusable bags! Enroll Here.
  3. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Choice Dollar: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a financial services organization, is giving back! When you become a Thrivent Financial member, you can help support Coastkeeper through their Choice Dollar program. This program is member-based and allows members to allocate their Choice Dollars to partnering nonprofits like Coastkeeper. Become a Member.
  4. Amazon Smile: Amazon.com. The one-stop-shop online store with all you need, and now your shopping can benefit Coastkeeper. Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase when you choose San Diego Coastkeeper as your charitable organization. All you need to do is remember to go to smile.amazon.com when shopping online. Sign In Here.
  5. Attend an Event: Whether it is cleaning up your local beach on a beautiful day or attending one of fundraisers, Coastkeeper provides a range of volunteer and donation opportunities that everyone can enjoy. Check them out here.
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riverralleyblogphoto 3

We don't have big rivers. (Head nod to San Diego River Park Foundation, The Escondido Creek Conservancy and their brethren.) We don't have big rivers like Pittsburgh. For four and a half days recently, Matt and I communed with more than 600 clean water advocates at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh. These already powerful rivers meet and give birth to the mighty Ohio River, which courses through four states and provides water for 3 million people before it joins the Mississippi River.

It is awe inspiring to see the force and power of the water coursing between the banks of these rivers; as it is to be in the company of so many people with a passion for our work. I recommend to anyone doing a job, pursuing a cause or reaching for a goal to find like­minded people and spend some time together. The River Rally brought together River Network and Waterkeeper Alliance member organizations. We celebrated with a speech by His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, now working with the Waterkeeper Alliance to protect the Himalayan glaciers, which provide some of the drinking water for more than 1 billion people who live downstream. He spoke of his quest to protect this "roof of the world." And he pronounced joy at the power of togetherness. Now, with the Waterkeeper Alliance at his shoulder, he can be more effective.

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San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in San Diego County. Despite at times feeling like a small force of just five in a town of three million, the truth is that we are one of 219 Waterkeeper organizations throughout the world fighting to protect this Earth's water. And just as we tap into the experience and expertise of those organizations, we also have numerous local organizations on our team and thousands of volunteers. Together we have a confluence of power.

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SMARTSfarm2After a long time on the waiting list, my mother and I received custody of a large wooden box full of dirt that sits in an old vacant parking lot in East Village. We were thrilled. Of course, it isnʼt just any parking lot, and isnʼt just any dirt. Both belong to the labor of love that SMARTS Farm, one of San Diegoʼs newer community gardens, and one that also provides hands-on education for underserved youth. When you are standing in the farm, it is nearly impossible to see it as the parking lot it once was, such is the transporting nature of being surrounded by raised beds full of dark green chard, dwarf citrus trees, newly planted tomatoes and the scent of fresh soil.

Having grown up in Montana, tending to our extensive vegetable and flower gardens was the after school or work and weekend responsibility of each and every member of my family. Willingly or begrudgingly, taking care of what surrounded and sustained us was expected and unquestioned.

I truly believe this is why, as odd as it may seem to some, that even now, nearly a decade after leaving Montanaʼs rich black soil for life in downtown San Diego, I still sometimes want nothing more than to vacuum my apartment and water my houseplants as soon as I get home from work, even when the couch is calling. These are the small acts of stewardship that now keep me connected to my immediate environment. It is as if by vacuuming the floor or pulling weeds from our new garden bed, I am saying to the space around me, "I am yours, you are mine, we take care of one another." The act of caring for something is what makes that thing your own.

SMARTSfarm1All this, of course, is exactly why I love the work I do for San Diego Coastkeeper. As community engagement coordinator, it is quite literally my job to support and enable this crucial connection between people and their local environment. Every volunteer opportunity we post is a way to take care of what is ours as San Diegans.

They may not always feel like grand, romantic gestures of love and devotion, but they count.

Thatʼs the thing: Picking up someone elseʼs cigarette butt or discarded plastic water bottle off a beach is not glamorous. Scrambling down a riverbank littered with forgotten refuse beneath an overpass to take a water sample from a polluted urban stream is not the way many of us would visualize our perfect Saturday morning. But these are acts of devotion that express our gratitude for what we have.

Coastkeeper is committed to protecting our water resources for all of us, but I am consistently amazed and grateful when I see just how SMARTSfarm3many of you out there are willing to give your precious free time to share in this commitment with us. To put our hands in the sand is to make a piece of the coastline more than a pretty picture on a postcard of San Diego, it is to make it our own.

For more information about SMARTS Farm, please visit http://humanesmarts.org/farm/.

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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.

Water Wise
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.

Marine Conservation
h20-trash-patrolH2O 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.


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