Top Ten: Fun Ways to Responsibly Use the Ocean

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

eco friendly ocean habits

San Diego may be nationally famous for the success of our sports teams, but we also have an often overlooked geological feature called “beaches.” (#jokable)

Our beaches draw tourists and transplants from all over the world, and as a result our coastal ecosystems take a heavy hitting day in and day out. Next time you take a dip minimize the stresses human activities (such as littering, polluting and crowding of wildlife) put on our waters by giving back with some of the simple tips below.

  1. Commit to picking up three pieces of trash whenever you visit the beach. Fortunately — and unfortunately — it will probably take you less than a minute. Consider it a sun and sand tax, and make it a habit to leave the beach cleaner than you found it.
  2. Attend a beach cleanup. You can hang out with new friends afterwards and bask in the sun and the knowledge that the beach is cleaner than when you arrived.
  3. Use an alternative to copper-based hull paint. The copper leaches into the water and harms wildlife. Luckily, the Port of San Diego has suggestions, resources and possible grant opportunities.
  4. Wear natural sunscreen. Your sunblock may be poisoning the water. Here are a few good brands that will protect both you and our marine friends. 
  5. Follow the rules of marine protected areas. San Diego has 11 beautiful MPAs (like underwater state parks) that are protected for a reason. Learn more about them so you can enjoy responsibly.
  6. Throw away your butts. If you smoke, don’t litter your butts. They are not biodegradeable like many think, and because of our storm drain systems, they tend to end up in the ocean no matter where you litter them. Once in the water, they leach powerful toxins that kill wildlife. We picked up 75,069 cigarette butts in 2014. Take a look at our most recent beach cleanup data
  7. Check our beach advisories before going into the water. Especially if it has rained recently, urban runoff might turn a short swim into a rough sickness.
  8. Don’t take any shells, pebbles or organisms with you. An empty shell could be someone’s home one day. A rock or two might not seem like a big deal, but thousands of people visit the beach daily. If a few of those people take a few rocks, every single day, it has a major impact on the environment. Be an advocate, not a taker. You’ll feel better.
  9. Don’t feed animals. Seagulls and squirrels look cute when they beg, but your food might kill them, which is not so cute. Even if you feed them vet approved squirrel food, feeding wildlife artificially inflates the species’ local population, disrupting the ecosystem’s food chain and making them dependent on humans. 
  10. Don’t jump off cliffs. A no brainer that could literally save your brain. Shadows, murky water and constantly changing tides make it impossible to accurately judge a cliff jump. Your friends and family will miss you. Don’t be stupid. There are better ways to catch an adrenaline rush. 
Published in Change Your Habits

Top Ten: Quick Ways To Conserve Water

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

h20drop-sIn San Diego, a typical household uses about 10,472 gallons of water a month. What can you do to use less this month? Whatever your conservation goal is – 15 percent, 25 percent or more – the more of these steps you take, the more water you’ll save. The more water you save, the more money you’ll save on your water and sewer bills.


  1. While waiting for hot water to come through the pipes, catch the cool water in a bucket or a watering can. Use this water later to water plants or run your garbage disposal.
  2. Hand wash dishes once a day using a minimal amount of detergent to cut rinsing. Use a sprayer or short blasts of water to rinse.
  3. Save up to 250 gallons of water a week when watering your lawn! Water your lawn and landscaping before dawn or after the sun sets when there’s less evaporation. Adjust your sprinklers so they don’t spray on sidewalks, driveways or streets.
  4. By replacing your regular showerheads with low-flow showerhead you can save up to 230 gallons a week.
  5. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  6. Channel your inner plumber. You can save more than 150 gallons for each leak that you fix inside and outside of your home. Think about faucets, fixtures and pipes.
  7. Flush the toilet only when necessary. Never use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket.
  8. Adjust your car washing methods: When taking your vehicle to a car wash, take it to a place that recycles its wash water. If washing your car at home, use a bucket of water and sponge. Rinse quickly at the end, never allow the hose to run continuously.
  9. Never do laundry or run the dishwasher with less than a full load. This simple method can save up to 30 gallons per week.
  10. Always use a broom when cleaning your patio or balcony; never use a hose.

Remember, if you see someone wasting water, please report them to us using this secure, anonymous online form.

Published in Change Your Habits

Top Ten: Tips to Make Your Neighborhood Pollution Free

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

reduce pollution neighborhoodNeighborhood pollution comes in all forms – cigarette butts on street corners, dog remnants on the grass, food wrappers and bags blowing by and pesticides and fertilizers in our yards. Luckily, a few easy adjustments in habits can snowball into a community effort to make your neighborhood cleaner and healthier for everyone. Try out these ten suggested steps to make your neighborhood pollution free.

  1. Lead by example. The number one thing you can do to keep your neighborhood clean is set a litter-free example for others. Pick up after your dog, don’t flick cigarette butts onto the ground and if you see litter lying around, grab it.
  2. Tie your trash bags. When you put your trash in the cans for pickup, take a moment to tie your bags and secure your lids. This prevents stray pieces of trash from falling out and blowing around your neighborhood.
  3. Give back. Become involved in a community cleanup, or better yet, organize one yourself. Everyone wants to live in a clean neighborhood and we love getting involved in group cleanups. Get your family and friends together, bring some music and snacks and spend an hour or two tidying up the place you call home. Check Coastkeeper’s beach cleanup schedule for your next monthly opportunity to pick up trash in your coastal neighborhood – the beach.
  4. Landscape responsibly. Try this top ten list to reduce your fertilizer and pesticide use. 
  5. Go to a carwash. Another way to prevent urban runoff is to take your car to a carwash where it recycles water. When you wash your car in your driveway, the water carries toxins from your yard and the cleaning chemicals into storm drains, which flow directly to our waters. Plus, a car wash that recycles water conserves water, too!
  6. Ride your bike. By riding your bike, taking public transit and carpooling, you reduce your contribution to air and water pollution in your neighborhood and the region. 
  7. Reuse. Reuse wrapping paper, gift bags, plastic containers and anything else as much as you can. Recycling is important, but reusing is even better and saves you money, too.
  8. Stay away from StyrofoamTM. StyrofoamTM is one single-use material that cannot be recycled. Styrofoam is harsh on the environment and is often found at beach cleanups and in our waters. Choose alternatives to Styrofoam cups, egg cartons and miscellaneous other supplies that will inevitably end up on your street or in a landfill.
  9. Find your voice. Learn how you can join friends and have a voice in the decision-making in your community to support clean, healthy neighborhoods on a legislative level.
  10. Get outside. The only way to want to keep your neighborhood clean is to love and appreciate it, and the only way you will love your neighborhood is if you spend time in it. Get up and take a stroll around your community to remind yourself what you love and why you want to keep it clean.
Published in Change Your Habits

Top Ten: Simple Ways to Drive Your Car Less

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

drive car less san diegoThe massive amount of cars on San Diego County’s roads greatly contributes to water and air pollution. We breathe the chemicals from autos, which irritate our lungs, resulting in asthma, bronchitis, lowered-lung capacity and other respiratory illnesses. Cars also cover our streets with pollution, like copper dust and oil, that rain and runoff carry into our waters. Follow these tips to drive your car less and help reduce runoff and carbon emission pollution in San Diego. 

  • Get on your bike. We are lucky to live in San Diego – a bike-friendly city with paths, routes and lanes solely for biking. Take advantage of these. Instead of always relying on your car, try to make the shorter trips by bike. You will get exercise and won’t have to lose your parking space.
  • Don’t sweat the sweat. It’s ok to sweat. Really, it’s ok- it’s actually good for you. Make a small bag of personal hygiene items to freshen up when you get to your destination.
  • Shop local. Have you explored all the shops within walking or biking distance of your home? Give up the big shopping center and try nearby local businesses and farmers market.
  • Public transit. You can get almost anywhere in San Diego with the extensive public transportation systems. Our Metropolitan Transit System covers a total of 3,240 square miles of San Diego County and serves approximately three million residents. There are also our Greyhound Lines, the North County Coaster and the Big Bay Shuttle to get you to any location, from any location.
  • Carpool. Going somewhere with all your friends? There’s a lane for that. Save yourself the cost of gas and hitch a ride with people going the same direction as you.
  • Have a block party. Want to go out, but don’t feel like driving? Good news is you’ve likely got friends all around you, and you don’t have to go far. And if you don’t know your neighbors, now is your chance. Organize a block potluck, or simply sit outside with your dog or someone you know for a fun night at home.
  • Plan ahead. Instead of jumping in your car and running errands across town, take a minute to think about where you are going to get what you need. Maybe you can find all the things you need in one shopping center, or perhaps you can run one errand next week when you are in that part of town. Plan your errands to combine trips and save time and gas.
  • Daily car rentals. If you don’t drive your car much but need it on occasion, consider a carshare. You use it when you need it and stick to biking and public transit the rest of the time. 
  • Set goals. For most of us, cutting driving cold-turkey wouldn’t work for very long. Make short-term and long-term goals and take it one day at a time. Try just one day a week when you find an alternative to driving.
  • Enjoy it. Getting out of the car and biking, walking or riding the bus is a nice change from the stress of everyday driving. Driving is easy but there are other ways to commute that are healthier for you and the environment. Give them a try- you may be surprised how much you don’t miss your car after all.


Published in Change Your Habits

How Fertilizers Hurt Our Water

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

San Diego Coastkeeper’s lab manager conducts an experiment on water quality using San Diego River water and common household fertilizers. The results of his experiment show how much murkier water becomes after a small amount of fertilizer is added. Imagine all of the fertilizer used in San Diego County and how, when it makes its way into our water, it collectively adds up. Learn more at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

Published in Videos

San Diego’s Water Supply

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Do you ever wonder where your water in San Diego comes from? Do you know what type of impact that has on our environment or how much energy it uses? Watch San Diego Coastkeeper’s video on the water supply in San Diego to learn more. Then visit us at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

Published in Videos

San Diego Coastkeeper: Epic Volunteers Clean the Beach

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Recently, LUSH volunteers teamed up with San Diego Coastkeeper to help clean a local beach. In just 2 hours, they collected over 2500 pieces of plastic, more than 800 cigarette butts, and over 600 pieces of Styrofoam—totaling almost 27 lbs of trash!

Twice-a-month, Coastkeeper, and our partners Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter, hosts a local beach cleanup like this one. If you love your beach and like it clean, bring your friends and family to volunteer at our next event! All of our upcoming beach cleanups can easily be found by visiting this link: http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper

Published in Videos

Potable Reuse vs. Desalination

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper


Indirect Potable Reuse vs. Desalination: We support a diverse water supply portfolio. However, with the region’s limited resources, San Diego County’s immediate capital investment—and corresponding rate increases— should focus on potable reuse projects. 

Updated October 4, 2012

San Diego Coastkeeper supports a diverse water supply portfolio. However, with the region’s limited resources, San Diego County’s immediate capital investment—and corresponding rate increases—should focus on potable reuse projects.

  • Potable reuse solves two problems for the price of one. Potable reuse will add a high quality, reliable water source to the region’s supply. It will also decrease pollution. The Point Loma Sewage Treatment Facility discharges approximately 140 million gallons of advanced primary treated wastewater into the ocean daily under a Clean Water Act waiver. The current cost estimate to upgrade Point Loma to secondary treatment and compliance with the Clean Water Act is $1.2 billion. Potable reuse projects offload wastewater from Point Loma, reducing—or potentially eliminating—the costs of upgrading Point Loma, while at the same time building water supply infrastructure.
  • Ratepayer fatigue means limited opportunity for significant capital projects. Resources are limited, and asking ratepayers—particularly low- or fixed-income families—to pay multiple rate increases will be unpopular. The Poseidon Water Purchase Agreement anticipates water rate increase of $60-$84 annually per household of 4 by 2016. How much more of an increase could ratepayers stomach for potable reuse projects if the Carlsbad desalination goes forward? And how would ratepayers fare with the desalination rate increase along with a rate increase to upgrade Point Loma?
  • Capital investments requiring rate increases should be prioritized by greatest long-term benefit. Decisions should be based on the best strategic opportunity, not which project gets shovel-ready first. Potable reuse packages pollution reduction and local water production into one project, making it the best capital investment for the region now. Ratepayers deserve fair rates and strategic capital improvements based on the greatest efficiencies
  • Potable reuse water is cheaper than desalinated water. The City of San Diego’s Recycled Water study estimates that the net cost per acre foot of indirect potable reuse water will run between $700 and $1200. A large chunk of that cost comes from pipelines to transport ultra-clean water to reservoirs to mix with dirtier, imported water. Direct potable reuse water will likely be even cheaper than indirect potable reuse water. The proposed water purchase agreement for Poseidon desalination is $1,876 to $2,097 per acre-foot in 2012 dollars.
  • Potable reuse rates can be split between water and wastewater ratepayers. While the cost of desalinated water would be carried by water rates, the cost of capital upgrades for potable reuse water could potentially be shared among water and wastewater ratepayers.
  • Potable reuse projects are better for the environment than desalination plants. Potable reuse projects not only reduce the amount of pollution discharged into the ocean, but they also are less energy-intensive than desalination plants. Not only is lower energy use cheaper, but it is the preferred approach in light of global climate change.

Fireworks over Water

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

fireworks over water san diego

Fireworks Over Water: We understand the historic nature of and the public’s fondness for fireworks displays and want to ensure those displays occur in a way that doesn’t compromise water quality. 


San Diego Coastkeeper understands that fireworks displays are a time honored tradition often used to celebrate such holidays as New Year Eve and the Fourth of July.  San Diego Coastkeeper does not want to see fireworks displays end but rather wants to ensure that displays are not a danger to water quality by requiring that they are conducted in appropriate areas and in a manner consistent with existing laws.1 San Diego Coastkeeper supports a permitting process for all fireworks displays which occur over, or adjacent to, surface waters.  Such a permit must cover small and large displays in all locations whether they are used once or multiple times a year.  A robust water quality monitoring program is also crucial to a useful permit and will provide data to quantify the effects fireworks shows have on our environment.  Our goal is to see the tradition of fireworks shows continue in a responsible way which will not pollute our regional waters.

Please down the complete PDF of our position on fireworks in San Diego.

1Areas that would not be considered appropriate include, but are not limited to, ecologically sensitive areas such as Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), ecological preserves, or sensitive nesting locations.

Seals at Children’s Pool

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Focas en La Jolla

Seals at Children’s Pool: A jewel along the La Jolla coastline, Children’s Pool at Casa Beach attracts both human beachgoers and a harbor seal colony, a somewhat contentious gathering. 

SUMMARY (updated Nov 9, 2015)

Since 2004, Coastkeeper has been engaged with groups and individuals who are involved in the efforts to secure a safe environment for the seals at Children’s Pool at Casa Beach through temporary closure of the beach and possible designation as a marine mammal park. Coastkeeper respectfully offers the following positions regarding the harbor seal rookery and haul-out at Casa Beach:

Coastkeeper supports the protection of the harbor seals in the following manners:

  1. We support the Coastal Commission’s approval of the beach closure during pupping season (Dec 15- May 15) and the subsequent amendment to the San Diego Municipal Code (§63.0102(e)(2)) in order to allow the seals to birth and nurse their pups without disturbance. 
      1. We support prohibiting people from accessing the beach during this limited period as it is in the best interest of the people and the seals to allow the seals to remain undisturbed during this sensitive time. Female harbor seals can become aggressive if they feel that their pups are being threatened. Additionally, human interaction with the pups at this stage can cause seals to be separated from their mothers and become abandoned.
  2. We encourage vigorous enforcement of this municipal code ordinance as well as the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which prevents the hunting, harassing, capture, or killing or any marine mammal, or attempt to do so. (16 U.S.C. 1362)
  3. We support the decision to permanently install the guideline rope and signage discouraging visitors from getting too close to the seals. The rope is meant to act as a buffer between humans and the seals on the beach. Coastkeeper also encourages visitors to stay behind the yellow guideline ropes.
  4. We support the municipal code provision that prohibits dogs on the beach. ((§63.0102(e)(1)).