Restoring San Diego's Toxic Waters
Would you choose to take a bath in copper-filled water? Chances are you’d pass, but did you know that copper is one of the most common pollutants in the San Diego Bay?
Industrial and military operations along San Diego’s waterfronts, urban runoff and decades of neglect have left San Diego with dozens of toxic waterways, which pose serious health threats and rob us of our right to enjoy San Diego’s natural resources.
While San Diego Coastkeeper uses urban runoff and sewage regulations, plastic pollution advocacy and environmental science education to help reduce the ongoing flow of pollutants into San Diego’s water, we also want to heal the damage done.
Our Current Work on San Diego's Toxic Waters
• Copper: Copper has a huge presence in our waters thanks to leaching boat hull paint, brake pad dust carried by stormwater and legacy contamination from industrial practices.
• Toxins in the San Diego Bay: Experiencing more than 20 different abuses, the bay needs special attention and restoration. Impacts from copper, PAHs, PCBs, arsenic, mercury and others have combined to leave deadly hot spots.
• Pesticides: Pesticides are lethal – that is why we use them to kill bugs in our lawns, gardens, parks and farms. Unfortunately, these pesticides wash into creeks and rivers where they kill or harm the wildlife.
• Pathogens: Pathogens – microbes like viruses, bacteria and protozoa that can make humans sick, are a major issue for California coastal and inland water bodies. Sewage spills or big rainstorms push these pathogens into the waters that we swim, surf and wade in. This puts us at risk of contracting a wide range of illnesses.
• Fireworks: Fireworks light up the night sky, but what goes up must come down. Unexploded fireworks, trash and propellant can wind up in our bays and coastal waters. The pollutants cause problems for aquatic wildlife and can lead to chronic toxicity in the water and sediment.
Our process to repair polluted waters in San Diego
• 303(d) List: Many of San Diego’s creeks, lagoons, rivers and beaches regularly exceed safe levels of pollution. Our Regional Water Quality Control Board puts chronically polluted waterbodies on a list of impaired waters, called the 303(d) List.
• Water quality monitoring: To help identify San Diego’s impaired creeks, streams, lagoons and other waters, Coastkeeper operates the largest volunteer water quality monitoring program in southern California.
• Permits for Discharge: We monitor permits for discharge — the legal mechanisms that allow a large corporation, the military or local government to dump toxins into San Diego’s water—to ensure polluters apply for permits and follow the limitations.
• Volunteers: We can’t do our work to restore San Diego’s water without volunteers and donors. Join our water quality monitoring trainings and help us collect and analyze data to ensure our waterways are clean and healthy. Let your local government officials know that you support making our San Diego Bay healthy and vibrant again. And don’t forget to donate to Coastkeeper to help fund our advocacy efforts to protect your water.