Take a Survey to Protect Del Mar Beaches

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

My name is Derek Kiy, and I am a junior at Canyon Crest Academy. When I began the conceptualization of an Eagle Scout project, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make a legitimate impact on the community. I contacted San Diego Coastkeeper regarding a project proposal, and they jumped on the opportunity to guide me through the process. This project aims to rid Del Mar of Styrofoam takeout containers through the education of the community.

The first step on this odyssey is a survey that we, Coastkeeper and I, have worked on to gauge public opinion regarding Styrofoam takeout containers in Del Mar. The data regarding the prevalence, usage and preference of the containers will prove to be paramount. The analysis of the data we collect will allow us to craft the best educational tools, strategies and materials to help Del Mar residents learn about the negative environmental effects of polystyrene containers.

Through our education, we aim to inform the community of the huge and unnecessary cost of the plastic foam usage. Any and all participation in the survey is greatly appreciated so please, I implore you to spread this survey to your friends, family or anybody else you know.

By enabling the gathering of data, you become crusader for a cleaner and healthier Del Mar. This city’s identity is so closely tied to it pristine waters that it only makes sense to guard those waters so everyone who spends time in Del Mar may enjoy the coast it has become renowned for. Helping Del Mar’s coast is not a matter of moving mountains, but rather taking small steps and actions to make a huge difference.

Want to help with my efforts? Take this short survey about Styrofoam in San Diego. Thank you!

Published in Marine Debris

It’s the Little Things

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

mamAs I was driving to the Morning After Mess cleanup in Mission Beach, I was pleasantly surprised at the apparent lack of garbage left after Independence Day celebrations. After chatting briefly with our friends at I Love a Clean San Diego about how more than 150 volunteers were picking up trash in Mission Beach, I headed to Bonita Cove, where I celebrated with friends the day before.

At first glance, Bonita Cove looked clean—just a few small pieces of trash littered the ground. Small groups of volunteers were wandering around and only occasionally picking up a piece of trash apparently having trouble finding things to pick up. I bent down to pick up a cigarette butt and saw a wrapper from a juice box straw… and then a plastic tag used to close a bag of hotdog buns… and then three more cigarette butts and four more juice box straw wrappers.

As I refocused my attention, I noticed that Bonita Cove was littered everywhere with small pieces of plastic and cigarette butts. There were so many cigarette butts that in the next 10 minutes, I picked up 125 cigarette butts in a small segment of Bonita Cove.

Granted, picking up small pieces of litter like juice box straws and cigarette butts isn’t particularly sexy or exciting. But it’s important. Birds frequently inquest small pieces of plastic (a recent study from the Pacific Northwest documented that 93 percent of sea birds had bellyfuls of plastic, and one bird had a whopping 454 pieces of plastic in its gut), and local researchers have shown that just one cigarette butt, left in 1 liter of water, is toxic to fish. The little things matter.

In fact, if we really want a cleaner, healthier environment, we can’t (and shouldn’t) rely solely on the government or environmental groups to fix it for us. If each of us did the little things—like making sure to pick up all our trash when we picnic with our families, disposing of cigarette butts properly, picking up after our pets, making sure we don’t overwater our lawns and wash our cars at car washes that collect the soapy water—we could see dramatic improvements in our environment.

I challenge each of you to join me in doing the little things…because we all deserve a clean, healthy environment.

Published in Marine Debris

MS4: How Can You Get Involved After It’s Adopted?

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

water-monitoring-1-sThis post is the third in a series regarding the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permitfor the San Diego region.

In this third and final entry in our series on the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate
Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit (http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sandiego/water_issues/
programs/stormwater/index.shtml), we will cover how you, the public, can get involved after the
MS4 permit is adopted. In previous posts, you have gotten a quick introduction to the permitting
process and how you can help develop the permit. It is important to know, however, that you
can continue to shape the way this MS4 permit works after the Regional Water Quality Control
Board adopts it.
The way the current draft is written, the organizations that enroll under it (the ones
running big storm drain systems) have to develop Water Quality Improvement Plans within the
first year of enrollment. These plans identify water quality “priorities,” how the priorities will
be addressed, and timelines to improvement. The important part is that these plans are subject
to a 30- or 60-day public review and comment period just like the MS4 permit itself. This
is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT part of the permit because the priorities are where the
cities and counties will be focusing most of their time and resources, while other water quality
problems have to wait. You need to be a part of this process to ensure that your voice is heard
about water quality problems in your community.
Another important way to get involved is to report violations of the permit when you
see them in your neighborhood. It is important that you know what part of the permit is being
violated though, so when you call the municipalities hotline, they know they are getting usable
information. This is why participation in the permitting process is so important (as we outlined
in the previous entries), so that you have a working understanding of the permit. That way, when
someone is emptying their pool right into the street, and subsequently down a storm drain, you
know whether that is prohibited (As a note: it might be prohibited, but it depends).
If you don’t feel comfortable with working alone, or just prefer working with
some more direction, you can also partner with us in water quality monitoring (http://
localhost/sdcoastkeeper/quick-links/water-monitoring.html) events. In the permit the cities
and counties have to work to identify the sources of previously unidentified pollution. We are
currently talking with municipalities to find ways to provide them our monitoring information
and reduce their costs. If this cooperative program is green-lighted, you could work to directly
hold polluters responsible for their actions and make San Diego’s waters that much cleaner.
If you haven’t already signed up for email updates about water quality issues in the
San Diego region, do so here (http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/
reg9_subscribe.shtml).

In this third and final entry in our series on the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, we will cover how you, the public, can get involved after the MS4 permit is adopted. In previous posts, you have gotten a quick introduction to the permitting process and how you can help develop the permit. It is important to know, however, that you can continue to shape the way this MS4 permit works after the Regional Water Quality Control Board adopts it.

The way the current draft is written, the organizations that enroll under it (the ones running big storm drain systems) have to develop Water Quality Improvement Plans within the first year of enrollment. These plans identify water quality “priorities,” how the priorities will be addressed, and timelines to improvement. The important part is that these plans are subjectto a 30- or 60-day public review and comment period just like the MS4 permit itself. This is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT part of the permit because the priorities are where the cities and counties will be focusing most of their time and resources, while other water quality problems have to wait. You need to be a part of this process to ensure that your voice is heard about water quality problems in your community.

Another important way to get involved is to report violations of the permit when you see them in your neighborhood. It is important that you know what part of the permit is being violated though, so when you call the municipalities hotline, they know they are getting usable information. This is why participation in the permitting process is so important (as we outlined in the previous entries), so that you have a working understanding of the permit. That way, when someone is emptying their pool right into the street, and subsequently down a storm drain, you know whether that is prohibited. (As a note: it might be prohibited, but it depends.)

If you don’t feel comfortable with working alone, or just prefer working with some more direction, you can also partner with us in water quality monitoring events. In the permit the cities and counties have to work to identify the sources of previously unidentified pollution. We are currently talking with municipalities to find ways to provide them our monitoring information and reduce their costs. If this cooperative program is green-lighted, you could work to directly hold polluters responsible for their actions and make San Diego’s waters that much cleaner.

If you haven’t already signed up for email updates about water quality issues in the San Diego region, do so here.

Published in Sick of Sewage

Video Update on Playas de Tijuana Sewage Spill

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

The folks at Proyecto Fronterizo de Educacion Ambiental A.C. shared this video with us of the broken sewage pipeline at Playas de Tijuana that is causing a spill of untreated sewage 3/4 mile south of the border. Remember to check our beach status page or download our SwimGuide to ensure you know when it’s safe to go back into the water.

Published in Sick of Sewage

MS4 Permit: How Can You Help Develop It?

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

watershedprotectThis post is the second in a series of three regarding the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit for the San Diego region.

In our previous post on the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System
(MS4) permit (http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sandiego/water_issues/programs/stormwater/
index.shtml), you got a small look into the MS4 permit and how San Diego Coastkeeper is
involved in its development. This entry will outline the opportunities there are for you, the
public, to get involved in shaping the requirements of the MS4 permit.
The current version of the permit is the administrative draft, so it’s like a draft of a draft.
There is a public workshop scheduled for September 5th for this version of the permit, which
you should attend. This will give you a better understanding of the permit so that when the
public version is released later this year, you are able to spot possible problems and offer
meaningful comments. Also, the previous comments on the draft MS4 permit will likely be
released, which are a good way to learn how comments should look.
When the public version of the MS4 permit is released for commenting, it will likely only
be available for 30 to 60 days, so it is important to be on top of it and start learning it as soon as
possible. The Regional Board provides email updates on the process, but you have to sign up
(http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/reg9_subscribe.shtml) to get
them. The best thing you can do to contribute to this process is to read through the permit and
submit a thought-out and reasoned comment letter after. It is important that your comments be
on-point and concise so that the Regional Board can better understand what you support, oppose,
or feel should be altered. Be sure to make your reasoning and goals clear, because if you try to
tie in Cervantes’ Don Quixote to your analysis, the Regional Board won’t take you seriously.
This is not the most exciting aspect of public advocacy (http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper/
act/speak-up/contact-your-representative.html), but these regulations will be in effect for the next
5 years. The Regional Board also feels that this permit is such an improvement that they plan to
renew it in 5 years without making significant changes. This can be good because it gives
regulated entities more long-term certainty, but it’s only truly good if the requirements help us
achieve better water quality.
We often get asked about ways that people can be more involved that don’t necessarily
involve giving us money (http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper/give/san-diego-coastkeeper-
membership.html) or picking up trash (http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper/act/green-events-in-san-
diego/san-diego-beach-cleanups.html). This is the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard
on water quality issues and accountability for those who pollute our waters. Get cracking and
submit some comments, because this process is central to Regional Board actions (http://
localhost/sdcoastkeeper/learn/restoring-san-diegos-toxic-waters/process-to-restore-san-diegos-
water.html) : public notice, document release, review period, and comment deadline. The more
practice you have at it, the more informed and better you’ll be.

In our previous post on the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, you got a small look into the MS4 permit and how San Diego Coastkeeper is involved in its development. This entry will outline the opportunities there are for you, the public, to get involved in shaping the requirements of the MS4 permit.

The current version of the permit is the administrative draft, so it’s like a draft of a draft. There is a public workshop scheduled for September 5 for this version of the permit, which you should attend. This will give you a better understanding of the permit so that when the public version is released later this year, you are able to spot possible problems and offer meaningful comments. Also, the previous comments on the draft MS4 permit will likely be released, which are a good way to learn how comments should look.

When the public version of the MS4 permit is released for commenting, it will likely only be available for 30 to 60 days, so it is important to be on top of it and start learning it as soon as possible. The Regional Board provides email updates on the process, but you have to sign up to get them. The best thing you can do to contribute to this process is to read through the permit and submit a thought-out and reasoned comment letter after. It is important that your comments be on-point and concise so that the Regional Board can better understand what you support, oppose or feel should be altered. Be sure to make your reasoning and goals clear because if you try to tie in Cervantes’ Don Quixote to your analysis, the Regional Board won’t take you seriously.

This is not the most exciting aspect of public advocacy, but these regulations will be in effect for the next 5 years. The Regional Board also feels that this permit is such an improvement that they plan torenew it in 5 years without making significant changes. This can be good because it gives regulated entities more long-term certainty, but it’s only truly good if the requirements help us achieve better water quality.

We often get asked about ways that people can be more involved that don’t necessarily involve giving us money or picking up trash. This is the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard on water quality issues and accountability for those who pollute our waters. Get cracking and submit some comments, because this process is central to Regional Board actions: public notice, document release, review period, and comment deadline. The more practice you have at it, the more informed and better you’ll be.

Published in Sick of Sewage

Why are Moonlight Beach Cleanups Cancelled?

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

moonlightStarting this September, the City of Encinitas will be making improvements to Moonlight Beach through June 2013. Due to anticipated construction, the Moonlight Beach parking lot and access areas will not be available for special events. This includes our beach cleanups which were scheduled for September 15, October 20 and November 17.

We anticipate resuming our cleanups at Moonlight after June 2013 when construction is scheduled to be completed.

Coastkeeper will still host a cleanup on September 15 at Tourmaline Beach as a part of Coastal Cleanup Day. Please register ahead of time if you’ll be attending.

Hope to see you out there!

Published in Marine Debris

What is the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit?

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

This post is the first in a series of three regarding the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit for the San Diego region.

storm_drainIn this entry, I give a brief overview of the permit’s purpose and permitting process. The second and third entries will highlight how you, dear reader, can get involved. My primary task this summer as a student attorney was evaluating the MS4 permit from the environmental perspective, spotting potential issues, and drafting comments to rehabilitate and increase protection of our natural resources.

As I’m sure you are aware, stormwater and urban runoff are key issues that have a very direct impact on the health of coastal waters. In a nutshell, this permit encompasses the rules for stormwater flows and urban runoff as well as regulations for what can enter storm drains and leave MS4 facilities. The version out right now is the pre-public draft of the permit. That means that key stakeholders (municipalities, environmental groups, and building industry) get to review the proposed permit first and work with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to recommend improvements.

This particular MS4 permit is special because it has been handled differently than previous ones. In the past, San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties each had their own MS4 permit with slightly different requirements. This obviously complicates things for all parties involved because water does not recognize municipal boundaries. Having uniform requirements across the entire San Diego Region is an important step in working towards better water quality because it makes compliance easier for those enrolled under the permit.

Another important part of this permit has been the use of four stakeholder focus meetings. These focus meetings are unprecedented, bringing together small groups of stakeholders around the table to have a professionally moderated discussion on the issues of the MS4 permit. I was thrilled to be a part of this process and put to use the time I spent learning the permit like the back of my hand. Both Jill and I have been representing the environmental perspective at the table along with other environmental groups to make this permit even better.

While the permit is currently in the pre-public form, there are going to be a number of significant ways for you to get involved later on in the process. The next entry will detail the permitting process a bit more and ways that you can get involved while the MS4 permit is developed. The last entry in the series will explain how you can get involved in the implementation process of the permit after it has been adopted.

Make sure you’re up to date on the permit process–sign up for email updates here.

Published in Sick of Sewage

Liquid Aloha Music Festival: Win Two Free Tickets

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Thanks to Kona Brewing Company, Liquid Aloha Music Festival is back in town once again on Saturday, Sept.1. Last year, more than 3,000 participants joined Coastkeeper and fellow citizens to have a sip of the Kona brews and listen to some local tunes. Thousands enjoyed five live bands including The Dirty Heads, Kalama Brothers and DJ Cory Biggs. Adding to the fun, the event raised more than $18,000 to protect your swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters.

This year, The Expendables will headline the stage with Arden Park Roots, Natural Heights, Hi Roots, The Simpkin Project and Nervous Wreckords. Kona Brewing will bring back its goodies such as Longboard Island Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Wailua Wheat as well as its new year-round launch—Big Wave Golden Ale.

Tickets are available for $15 dollars online and will be $20 at the door. You can also buy a ticket and Coastkeeper membership for just $40.

Now you can also get two FREE tickets with Coastkeeper’s help.

Here’s a fun contest–the best caption for the picture wins the tickets. Comment on the blog today. Please make sure you have your right full name and email so we can get back to you if you win. Contest ends on Friday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. We can’t wait to hear your funny captions!

 

Build Your Own Watershed

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

A watershed is an area of land where all the water from rainfall, streams and rivers drain to a common outlet like reservoirs, bays or larger rivers. It is the ecosystem in which we all live including the wildlife, surface waters and, of course, our neighborhoods. Sometimes, the word watershed is used synonymously with drainage basin or catchment. In San Diego County, we have a total of eleven watersheds.

Try this experiment: build your own watershed at home and explore how water flows across the land.

San Diego Watersheds

You will need the following:

  • 1 large tupperware container or roasting pan
  • Scrap paper or newspaper
  • Rocks of various sizes
  • White trash bag
  • Cup of cocoa mix, iced tea mix, or other flavored drink mix (to represent chemicals)
  • 1 spray bottle filled with blue-colored water

Procedure:

  1. Use the paper and rocks to make an uneven surface in you container. You are constructing the topography of your watershed.
  2. Cover your topography with the white trash bag; be sure to tuck in the edges under the rocks. It might be helpful to use some rocks to hold the trash bag in place.
  3. Spray your watershed with the blue-colored water to simulate precipitation. Where does the water in the watershed flow?
  4. Sprinkle the cocoa mix over part of your model. The cocoa mix represents chemical runoff that is polluting the watershed. Spray the model again and watch how the contaminated water travels through the watershed.

 

 

Follow-up Questions:

  1. What are some things that can pollute our watershed?
  2. How can we reduce the impact that we have on the watershed and the environment?

Did you build your own watershed? We want to see! Send us a picture at nia@sdcoastkeeper.org and be featured on our blog.

Are you a teacher who wants to use environmental education lessons in your classroom? Checkout Project SWELL: a school-based science curriculum that teaches children about the importance of the San Diego region’s waterways. Project SWELL helps teachers empower students about how to understand and improve the condition of San Diego waterways. For more information go to www.projectswell.org.

Photo credit: Shannon Switzer

My Summer as a Legal Intern at Coastkeeper

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

photoWhen I first applied for San Diego Coastkeeper’s summer legal clinic internship, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had two years of law school under my belt and a year of working at the local County Attorney’s office in Buffalo, but that cannot compare to the time I’ve spent in San Diego the past few months. Along with four other law students (all of whom were from different parts of the US) I was tasked with a number of projects that would help improve the health of San Diego’s waters.

Notwithstanding the lack of air conditioning in the office, I wouldn’t trade this past summer for anything. While we were often working single-mindedly on tasks that involved staring at our laptops for hours on end, our clinic director also encouraged us to create a personal connection with the water. Each week, we were expected to spend at least an hour doing something water-related, whether it was surfing, swimming, walking along the beach or underwater basket weaving.

At first, I thought this request was unusual, but looking back, I realize just how important it was for my development over the summer. I spent a number of evenings with a friend out in Tourmaline sitting on a longboard, waiting for a good set to come in and enthusiastically rejoicing whenever I caught a wave. And as much fun as surfing is, I recognize now that being around people who work, play and interact with the coast on a daily basis helped fuel a drive in me to do more. I worked to keep the waters clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.

Here in San Diego, I saw that pollution isn’t an abstract problem that only causes damage in the long term. When sewer spills happen or urban runoff gets funneled into the water, people get sick, and Coastkeeper is doing everything it can to stop that from happening. But they need just as much help to do these projects as the coast does keeping clean. On the east coast, I was a well-functioning cog in the wheel of litigation, but out here, I was helping to save peoples’ lives and their livelihoods.

If you want to know what that feels like, see what events we have for you to participate in, come help clean up a beach, do some water sampling or even buy one of our shirts.

We want to help, but we need the support to keep doing it.