Pay tribute to the working men and women by respecting the land upon which you celebrate! Despite the beach alcohol ban imposed in January 2008, the type of trash has changed, but not the amount. Based on our beach cleanup data, we have identified a few items that lead to the most beach trash and thought up easy replacements for you AND THE BEACH to have a good time.
What not to bring:
- Styrofoam: I know that cooler is super cheap, but Styrofoam is one of our top finds in our beach cleanups. It breaks up into tiny little pieces and flies into storm drains, bushes, the ocean, etc. It is not only unsightly and difficult to pick up, but it poses a threat to wildlife who mistake it for food. San Diego does not recycle Styrofoam, and Styrofoam is estimated to take over 500 years to biodegrade. Thus, every piece you ever use will be around for the next 5 generations of your own family!
- Plastic bottles: It may seem easy and convenient to bring your Sprite and Coke in those small individual plastic bottles, but try to opt for metal cans that are more cost-effective recyclables. Plastic is one of our Top Three Beach Trash items found in huge quantities at our cleanups and like Styrofoam, takes at least 500 years to biodegrade.
- Cigarettes: San Diego Coastkeeper collected 42,525 cigarette butts off the beach in 2010 and it has been illegal to smoke on San Diego beaches since 2006! If you must smoke, at least be responsible and get your butt in the trash can.
- Plastic Bags: These are so lightweight they will be out of your sight and into the sea in no time.
- Plastic-wrapped food: Try to avoid things that are heavily packaged in what will become trash! You won’t want to deal with it during your celebration, nor will the other partiers when it flies into their mouths.
What to bring:
- Reusable Cooler: This will be a good way to haul out trash once the beverages are gone!
- Tupperware: Pack sandwiches and pasta salad and other homemade goodies in Tupperware, then you can just stack and wash them later.
- Reusable water bottle: Buy your water/beverages in bulk and then you can refill your bottle throughout the day.
- Reusable bag: Pack it in, pack it out!
- Trash bags: If you are going to create trash, be prepared and have a place to stash it. It is likely someone didn’t bring their own bag and they trekked in tons of plastic bags. Ask around, make friends and you could reuse a plastic bag from another beach go-er. You can always reuse an empty chip bag for a trash bag; get creative!
- Finger Food and Napkins: Plastic utensils are not recyclable; what a waste of our precious non-renewable resources! Bring food that doesn’t require silverware. If you’re dead-set on coleslaw, bring chop sticks. You can always bring silverware from home and toss it back in the cooler with the Tupperware at the end of the day. Just make sure to have friends over the next day to help with the dishes.
Thank you for taking the time and care to reduce the amount of trash we create on our Labor Day! It is a time to respect our history, our progress, and yes, to party with friends. It is not too much to ask to plan ahead and take responsibility for the trash you create at your own celebration.
In an attempt to solve its water crisis, San Diego has explored several alternatives that include sea water desalination, water recycling and Indirect Potable Re-use (IPR). Out of all these, IPR provides the best results.
Desalination may seem like a good idea because the ocean is so vast, but it’s expensive and energy intensive, ranking it low on the sustainability scale.
Water recycling, or “purple pipe” systems, cleans waste water enough so that we can spray it on our lawns and golf courses. The non-potable water is not meant for human consumption or to replenish any of our water sources and actually encourages water-hogging lawns and golf courses.
IPR on the other hand, takes wastewater, filters it and leaves it extremely clean to be re-introduced into a water source. To learn more, I decided to tour the Orange County (OC) Groundwater Replenishment System and the North City Water Reclamation Plant.
The OC Groundwater Replenishment System has been operating for several years now. This facility has been a model not only for San Diego, but for other facilities worldwide. Here, water is put through a very simple filtration system that takes in wastewater, cleans it and it exposes it to ultraviolet rays to make sure all pollutants are removed. The water, clean as whistle, is then pumped into the Orange County groundwater basin. At the end of the tour, I was given the opportunity to taste the water. A little skeptical at first, I decided to taste it. The water was the best water I had ever tasted! It was so fresh and soft that I wished I had been given the opportunity to take some it home!
Anxious to see what San Diego was up to, I took a tour of the North City Water Reclamation Plant. San Diego is currently in its third month of its Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. The filtration process is the same as that of the OC facility, giving the same water quality results. San Diego is assessing the possibility of using IPR water to augment the San Vicente water reservoir.
IPR works! This is not a case of toilet to tap or dirty water aimed only for low income communities. The water would be the same for everyone. IPR is a great way to replenish our water levels without having to import more water. Many question the use of wastewater, but the process is extremely clean and by re-introducing it into a groundwater basin or reservoir, it allows it to clean itself even more!
If you have doubts, don’t hesitate to tour these facilities. They’re open to the public and welcome public input. We cannot continue to claim that we do not have a water crisis. We must act to solve our water crisis and a great way to do so is to support IPR.
This is the tenth of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of ASBS, the threats they face and the actions we can take to protect these biological hotspots for future San Diegans.
Like most of those who reside in San Diego, I love it here and I am proud to be a San Diegan. After a recent 2 year stint in Boston, MA (Yikes! It was freezing), this native Californian could not be happier to be back. So what does it mean to be from San Diego? What is so great about it? Why would you ever leave such a glorious region of an even more glorious state? These are all questions I faced when I left 2 years ago, and not just questions I asked myself, but questions I was faced with upon arriving in Bean Town.
First of all, there are no waves in Boston. Yes, Boston is a port city, the largest city in Massachusetts and surrounded by water; however, there is very little beach action in the immediate area (with the exception of Revere ‘beach’ which is actually just a waveless inlet). The water quality around the port (as it is near almost any port) is poor and downright gross. It led me to inquire how I could become involved in improving water quality in my new surroundings of New England. It did not take long for me to realize that the number of networks and organizations working toward improved water quality as well as environmental advocacy were limited (but still existed), unlike those I had become accustomed to being around in California. Bummer.
Whenever I was asked what there is to do in San Diego, my eyes always lit up and I rambled a millions miles a second – snorkeling around the cove in La Jolla, kayaking around Mission Bay, surfing Windansea, scuba diving around Scripps Institution of Oceanography, hiking the Torrey Pines State Reserve, stand up paddle boarding in Encinitas, sailing around San Diego Bay, The Del Mar Fair, I could go on forever. But it occurred to me I had lived in San Diego for 5 years prior to my move and hadn’t done more than three of those things. I was horrified. Needless to say, I was desperate to get back into the water and ready to dedicate myself to improving what I consider to be San Diego’s most valuable asset – its water.
San Diego Coastkeeper gives people the resources and opportunity to get involved with protecting our oceans, beaches and waterways in a way that is pretty unique. Opportunities to volunteer come in so many shapes and sizes and the best part is the flexible schedules and option to choose the events that are right for you.Wastewater discharge, marine debris and stormwater runoff are major threats to San Diego’s marine environment. I am stoked that I get to work with a network of dedicated and intelligent individuals, who work day in and day out to preserve our underwater playgrounds offshore by spreading the word on low impact development, organizing and supplying the tools for beach cleanups and conducting water quality monitoring.
The successes of San Diego Coastkeeper’s campaigns are incredible, like San Diego’s underwater state parks or marine protected areas (MPA’s) in south La Jolla and in North County at Swamis. I don’t know what to say other than these places are epic. The protected ecosystems are allowing biodiversity to flourish and creating healthy fishstocks to improve productivity. Stand up paddle boarding above Swami’s reef might be one of the most spectacular ways to see it all from above. San Diego’s Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) along the La Jolla Shores and Scripps Institution of Oceanography are two of the coolest places to snorkel and see giant sea bass, leopard sharks and abalone.
It’s up to us as residents of San Diego to take pride in our environment and take ownership in maintaining, preserving and improving our surroundings. Giving my time to a cause that protects coastal and inland waters where I live, work and play is something that I believe in whole-heartedly.
What inspires you?
Once again, our dedicated volunteers have collected water quality data on August 20. In our efforts to help others understand the data we collect, we going to explore indepth the San Dieguito Watershed in Del Mar and Solana Beach area.
Overall, we’ve found that relative to the rest of San Diego’s watersheds, San Dieguito Watershed is in relatively good condition. The watershed shows some problems typical of urbanization, such as slightly elevated concentrations of some nutrients. But this is expected because of irrigation of land or overwatering of lawns. Because our sites are downstream of agricultural land and golf courses, this could explain the nutrient levels being a little elevated. These levels are only slightly elevated and mostly do not exceed the standards set in the San Diego region basin plan.
One particularly interesting data point for this month is that one site (on the Del Dios Highway next to the fruit stand) had low levels of dissolved oxygen. The dissolved oxygen levels were 4.60 mg/L and the basin plan standard is at least 5.0 mg/l. This low level of oxygen in the water can stress aquatic organisms. On a good note, we’ve found low levels of fecal indicator bacteria.
In comparison to other watersheds in San Diego, San Dieguito Watershed is in good shape. We want to keep it that way by monitoring the sites and keeping our waste at a minimum. If you would like to be a part of it, sign up to be a volunteer for the September Water Quality Monitoring and training. No need to be a chemist to participate, bring your fun and learning sides together to explore your community and meet new friends.
How can we keep our watersheds healthy? Share your thoughts!
This is the eighth of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of ASBS, the threats they face and the actions we can take to protect these biological hotspots for future San Diegans.
Over the past several weeks, our ASBS blog series discussed projects put into the ground by the University of California, San Diego at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to help improve and protect water quality in the two ASBS near La Jolla. The UCSD/SIO projects are large low impact development projects engineered by professionals to clean urban runoff before it enters the ocean. In looking at them, I have been awed by their size, complexity and their reliance on ecology to do the dirty work. But at the end of the day, I can’t put one in my backyard. Or can I?
If you are at the SIO ecology embankments and you amble north of Scripps pier, you will see something that is seemingly mundane but is secretly quite remarkable – a rain barrel attached to a small garden box, not much bigger than five feet by three. The rain barrel/garden is part of a wider pilot project of the City of San Diego studying how this design can capture, slow down and disperse cleaner runoff than when it entered. The rain barrel captures water that runs off the roof and then discharges excess water into the attached garden box. Like the ecology embankments, this garden holds special soil that grabs on to pollutants and releases cleaner water. It takes time for the water from the rain barrel to pass through the complex soil matrix, which means that excess water leaves the garden after the storm has passed. By slowing down how much runoff enters the urban environment, this garden box reduces another problem caused by storm water – erosion. Rain barrels and rain gardens are simple and growing in popularity. Rain barrels and gardens come in all shapes and sizes, with many resources available online to help you put them in the ground in your yard. So it turns out those even small spaces like your yard, sidewalks, or medians in your local business district can also host a mini version of what UCSD/SIO installed at La Jolla Shores. That means we don’t have to rely only on big projects like what UCSD/SIO did; everyone in La Jolla can play a part in keeping the coast off La Jolla clean and healthy.
It may seem strange for San Diego Coastkeeper to call a project happening almost 1000 miles away to your attention, but the Flaming Gorge Pipeline has a strong San Diego connection.
The Pipeline is a water project that would divert at least 250,000 acre-feet (81 billion gallons) of water annually from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming, across the Continental Divide, and down the Front Range of Colorado, a total of between 550 and 580 miles. The Green River is the chief tributary of the Colorado River, where San Diego gets half of its water supply. Check out this map of the area and proposed pipeline. The pipeline, a hydropower project as well as a water transfer, would generate up to 1000 megawatts, and the water is intended for future population growth. (Originally the project was solely for water supply, but it is now primarily a hydropower project.)
One complicated detail is the amount of water that will be delivered. Aaron Million, the Colorado businessman proposing the project, intends to transfer at least 250,000 acre-feet. A study by the Bureau of Reclamation, however, found that the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, where most of the water is coming from, has only a 165,000 acre-foot surplus. The remaining 75,000 acre-feet is coming from the Green River above Flaming Gorge. This will drain an approximate 20-25% of the Green River’s flow annually, which has negative impacts on both the environment and the tourist economy. The Colorado River Water Conservation District is opposed to the project, due to concerns about how much water can sustainably be delivered. Million believes that there is plenty of water in the Colorado River Basin for the project, and says that if major environmental problems are found, the project should not go forward. Million also claims that the project will cost only $2.8 to $3.2 billion, while the State of Colorado finds a figure of $9 billion far more likely. The water could cost up to $30,000 an acre-foot, the most expensive water in Colorado history.
A coalition of nineteen conservation groups is opposed to both the project and a $150,000 grant currently under debate that would set up a task force to consider the pipeline. Million himself estimates that $5 million has been spent already on studies, and that $8 million to $12 million more could be needed to finish studying the project. The coalition hopes to avoid spending more money on a project that should not even be considered, due to a number of problems including environmental issues and negative impacts on the tourist industry.
Whether we like it or not, San Diego will be affected by the pipeline. Since we get half of our water from the Colorado River, there is a potential for reduced water supplies or perhaps higher prices due to lower supply, if the pipeline goes through. The pipeline stands to drain all of the water that can be spared from Flaming Gorge, possibly more, which could lead to shortages throughout the Colorado River basin in dry years.
The coalition has a petition at http://StopFlamingGorgePipeline.org that anyone can sign, regardless of where they live. The petition closes September 12, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board votes on whether to fund a study of the project on the 13th and 14th. Sign now to show your opposition to the Flaming Gorge Pipeline!
This is the seventh of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of our local water supply and how to increase the reliability of our supplies now and into the future.
The watershed that drains to the La Jolla ASBS includes beautiful stately homes, dramatic gardens and the quaint streets of the Village. It seems hard to imagine that such an attractive area can be a source of pollution.
And yet it is.
The watershed of the La Jolla ASBS, like any urban watershed, suffers from an abundance of hard surfaces (streets, roof tops, parking lots), aerial deposition of pollutants, over-irrigation of lawns and uncollected pet waste. This means that beneath all the beauty of La Jolla, the same basic water quality problems occur: urban runoff pollution. And it showed in water quality data in runoff from the area and at the coast – monitoring found that concentrations of pollutants like copper, fecal indicator bacteria, dioxins/furans, total PAHs, and turbidity were high enough to be of concern.
To meet the challenge of eliminating discharges to the ASBS, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, the City of San Diego Storm Water and San Diego Coastkeeper came up with a plan to protect the ocean and its special treasures. Recently, Coastkeeper and UCSD staff had the pleasure of introducing the jewel in the crown of that plan – four ‘ecology embankments.’ If you are wandering near the Shores, you will notice that there are two large, newly installed landscaped areas.
But don’t be deceived, these are no ordinary gardens.
Beneath the dirt and plants lie a special mixture of soil, plants and beneficial micro-organisms. Urban runoff drains from the surrounding residential and university properties into these areas and gets treated by this special garden. As runoff flows towards the ocean, it will first get filtered and then pass through the special soil mixture that contains important minerals (dolomite, gypsum and perlite) that remove pollutants. Dolomite and gypsum absorb pollutants like metals and phosphorus. Perlite, a volcanic mineral, keeps air and moisture in the soil. This in turn helps beneficial micro-organisms thrive and be ready to filter phosphorus, metals and petroleum pollutants flowing through the soil mixture. The complex soil mixture slows down the runoff, reduces slope erosion and allows for the soil matrix to do its job – absorbing and transforming pollution that may harm organisms dependent on the ASBS.
Water comes out on the beach side cleaner. But wait there is more – the ecology embankment cleverly relies on native and climate-appropriate plants to help do its work. The plants help keep the soil alive and healthy below ground and above ground they provide habitat for other local creatures. The perfect combination of form and function.
Like planets that orbit around a sun, the ecology embankments are surrounded by other smaller but still innovative projects that also help to protect water quality in the ASBS. There are bioswales that collect runoff from parking lots; permeable pavement areas that infiltrate runoff from residential areas near Scripps, and a rain barrel connected to a rain garden that collects and filters runoff from Scripps’ buildings. These rely on the same principles: slowing the flow, letting it soak in and be treated, relying on plants and soils to do the work. All with the same goal – of keeping a special place beautiful.
It’s summer–what better time to get your feet wet in the name of science?
We’re talking about marine protected area monitoring, which will help us understand the state of our sea and track the effects of the underwater parks going into effect off the south coast in October. Thanks to $4 million in grants from the Ocean Protection Council, a number of Southern California groups will soon begin a “baseline study” that will give us a snapshot of current ocean health and uses, and a yardstick for future changes.
San Diego Coastkeeper is getting involved, too. We need help with local efforts and data collection to help monitor San Diego’s MPAs. Are you out on the water (or underneath it) and want to help track what’s going on inside our protected areas? Contact me to get involved.
The word is out on the wonders of California’s underwater parks—they are good for sea life, of course, but that also makes them great places to snorkel, kayak, bird watch and tidepool. That’s why we’re so excited about this new interactive map showing the location of all marine protected areas in U.S. waters. Check it out – it’s a great way to learn the rules and get to know your local ocean sanctuary.
Finally, if you want to show your love for Big Blue, consider a new Whale Tail license plate. Proceeds help fund the Adopt-a-beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day, and other worthy causes.
Speaking of which, Coastal Cleanup Day is just around the corner – check out this website for a cleanup site near you.
Wastewater recycling, reclaimed water, and Indirect Potable Reuse (or IPR) are all ways of treating wastewater and reusing it rather than treating it and dumping it into the ocean.
San Diego reuses wastewater for irrigation, in its purple pipe system. Purple pipe is so-named because it requires two sets of plumbing, one for drinking water (potable use) and a second (purple) set for reclaimed water for irrigation. It’s easy enough to install when constructing a new building, but otherwise it’s a major retrofit, and either way it’s not cheap. But during a bad drought in 1989, purple pipe was touted as the only way we would
make it through with enough potable water for showers and drinking. The City Council even passed an aggressive ordinance to force anyone who could reasonably use reclaimed water for irrigation or industrial uses to do so. But the drought ended, and since then the ordinance has been largely forgotten and essentially unenforced. In fact, according to a Sign On San Diego article, San Diego only uses 15 percent of its two reclaimed water plants’ capacity.
Now, the city is taking another look at wastewater recycling for drinking water. (Check out how purple pipe and IPR compare – spoiler, IPR wins.) Mayor Jerry Sanders supports a new demonstration project to test the safety of IPR for drinking water – a definite improvement on his previous stance of ceremonially vetoing the “toilet to tap” project. The latest test builds on the successful use of wastewater recycling in:
Singapore, where they use reservoir augmentation, the very same process proposed for San Diego, and bottle and sell the stuff under the brand name NEWater
And closer to home, Orange County, where they use wastewater recycling for groundwater replenishment
The demonstration project will last a year and is required by the California Department of Public Health to prove the project adequately protects the public health. Tours of the facility are open to the public so you can see the high level of treatment the water receives.
The Advanced Water Purification process, which consists of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and treatment with hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light, actually removes more contaminants from the water supply than do the processes used to clean raw imported water. IPR water has been found to contain lower levels of all but six of the 232 tested pollutants, and those six were all still below levels that cause health concerns (check out page 108 of this report for details). The tested pollutants include pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupters, which are a common concern about IPR water.
In the words of Ronald Coss, the technical manager of the Water Reuse Study that made the above finding, “the human health risk from consuming [IPR water] directly is negligible, especially when compared to current drinking water standards and with other water supplies available to San Diego. Augmenting San Diego’s raw water supply with [IPR water] would result in an improvement to water quality over current water supplies.”
Are you striving to a better health and sustainable lifestyle? If so, let me introduce you to some ways you can green up your workout. Whether you like to work out in the gym or outside, there are natural ways to make your road to health rewarding in many more ways.
- Choose to reuse. Easy and convenient way to fulfill your thirst is to have reusable water bottle. Avoiding single-use plastics will lessen the plastic waste from your end and encourage others to do the same. Stainless steel or reusable BPA-free water bottles are your best options. Today, you can buy BPA-free water bottles almost anywhere.
- Buy organic clothes. Choosing right clothing for your workout is essential for your skin to breathe and your overall comfort. The best option is to wear 100% cotton jerseys or natural fleece, which will draw away moisture and heat away from your skin.
- Recycling and your shoes. Buying shoes made from recycled materials is a way to go. Plus, if you have old shoes, know that you have options to recycle them. There are recycling programs available and charities that would put them to use by giving it to homeless.
- Fuel up on the green. Skip those sugary or aspartame-filled energy drinks and granola bars – they will slow you down more than energize you. It’s better to snack on organic fruits, vegetables and nuts, or organic energy bars made with real ingredients.
- Get a biodegradable yoga mat. If you like to workout outside or at the yoga studio, you might like to invest in a rubber or cotton mat that is made from renewable resources. Aside of being biodegradable, this mat will keep you away from the harmful chemicals found in most yoga mats. Invest in a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mat, which is PVC-free, anti-slip and durable.
- Find more rewards in exercising. Make your routine more rewarding – exercise for an eco-friendly cause. You can attend one of Coastkeeper’s beach cleanups, or volunteer to clean a local park, or plant trees. Also, national parks offer great volunteer opportunities like building or maintaining walking and biking trails. There are also cool opportunities like serving on bike pr horseback patrols.
While caring for yourself, try choosing greener options to care for the environment. Small changes matter. While we can’t ban everything that is polluting our environment, we can act sustainably to do our part. In the end, we will be rewarded in more than one way!
Do you know any other ways that can make your workout greener?