2022 Annual Report
Table of Contents
Notes From Leadership
Incoming Executive Director
Welcome to our recap of 2022. I am here as your new Waterkeeper to share a few thoughts as you dive into the incredible work our staff accomplished last year. I am a newcomer to San Diego (is it “San Diegoan?”), and no surprise, I love it. The work is tough but fun, the community is welcoming and beautiful, and my team inspires me daily to look deeper, listen well, and be fearless. We celebrate our successes and note the historic change that came with the departure of Matt O’Malley after nine years of selfless service and hard-hitting advocacy. I urge you to reflect on Matt’s legacy, and I hope you will join me as we chart Coastkeeper’s future.
We will continue to educate future water warriors, fight for equitable access to clean water, and hold polluters accountable, from Oceanside to the Otay River Valley. We will plant ourselves at the intersection of climate and water and strive for solutions that advance resiliency, sustainability, and equity in everything from marine conservation to neighborhood flooding and stormwater recycling to community science. Our vision of the future is simple – it starts and ends with clean water and healthy, safe communities where people can thrive, and nature keeps being wild. Join us on this journey to make our vision a reality.
Outgoing Executive Director
After nine enriching years, 2022 marked the end of my tenure as executive director and managing attorney at San Diego Coastkeeper. I’m truly honored to have served as San Diego’s Waterkeeper, working with this organization’s talented and passionate staff and board, and alongside many dedicated community members and leaders. And while my time at the helm has ended, I remain committed to seeing Coastkeeper continue its legacy of environmental leadership in our region. I will forever be in service to this prodigious and vital organization. I’m very grateful for what our team has accomplished for clean water, climate resilience, and organizational health during my time as our region’s Waterkeeper.
The following pages include just a small snapshot of the tireless work the Coastkeeper team undertook last year, and I hope you will take the time to explore our efforts and find inspiration in our many achievements. With these accomplishments providing a solid foundation for future successes, I’m confident that San Diego Coastkeeper – this team, this board, and this movement – will excel at its mission in the months and years ahead.
Defending Marine Mammals
In our quest to protect the health of our ocean, our advocacy team took bold actions in the first half of the year. We launched two impactful advocacy campaigns to protect sea lions during their pupping season. We wrote a letter to San Diego’s Mayor and City Council, requesting a seasonal closure of the La Jolla Rookery to prevent beachgoers from disturbing sea lion pups and preventing injury or death. Additionally, we joined forces with our partners at Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) to rally for the California Coastal Commission to vote for a seasonal closure at Point La Jolla.
Uniting for Water Justice
At San Diego Coastkeeper, we believe in the power of community collaboration to bring about positive change for our local waterways. This is why we were thrilled to participate in the two-day Water Justice Exchange event in City Heights, bringing together students, scientists, and non-profits to engage in rich discussions toward creative solutions to the pressing water issues facing our communities. Our proposal to fund stormwater education and provide stipends for advocacy volunteers was successful, and we were awarded over $4,000. With these resources, we are eager to launch a robust advocacy training program, Clean Water Activists, in April 2023 and continue our efforts toward water justice for all.
Designing Signs to Connect Community to Nature
We partnered with Casa Familiar and the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation to design five bilingual interpretive signs for the upcoming Beyer Community Park in San Ysidro, California. The signs provide a unique opportunity for the community to explore and engage with their local ecosystem and indigenous history. Communications and Outreach Director Alyssa Senturk led the project with support from local San Diego artist Kait Kolsky, who designed and illustrated the signs. Campaigns Manager Lucero Weber helped translate the content into Spanish, and Education Manager Delanie Medina and Director of Science Rachele Lopez provided subject matter expertise and guidance. The finished signs were a testament to the collaborative efforts of Coastkeeper and our partners to create meaningful and educational experiences that inspire visitors to appreciate and protect their local environment for generations to come.
Riding for a Healthier Tijuana River Watershed
Coastkeeper joined forces with Latino Outdoors and outdoor advocates to bring attention to the decades of environmental injustice in the Tijuana River Watershed through Wheels on the Watershed, a community bike tour. The ten-mile ride brought cyclists to various pit stops where they heard personal accounts and calls to action from Coastkeeper staff, community activists, and leaders. The tour highlighted the toxic sewage flowing through the Tijuana River Estuary and the proposed solutions to fix the long-standing environmental crisis. Federal, state, and local funding efforts are underway to improve the water infrastructure and bring a healthier Tijuana River estuary that would clean the water, sequester carbon, protect against flooding, and provide habitat for wildlife. Coastkeeper used our media and marketing expertise to help spread the word and bring more attention to this chronic pollution issue.
Partnering for Student Success with Access Youth Academy
To support our youth’s future, Coastkeeper partnered with Access Youth Academy. Their program provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in after-school leadership and development experiences while learning the game of Squash. This partnership expands the sport’s reach to underrepresented communities and instills a sense of environmental responsibility in our young leaders. Through hands-on science presentations and weekend beach clean-ups, students learned to understand the impact they have on their local environment. We are working towards a brighter future for our youth academically and ecologically.
Science to Stewardship: A High School Environmental Education Program
We proudly announced the successful launch of the five-part, year-long high school program, Science to Stewardship. Thanks to generous funding from the Port of San Diego’s Environmental Education grant, we can provide comprehensive support to students over the next three years. The program, launched in August 2022 with e3 Civic High, engaged 150 ninth-grade biology students in a unique, hands-on learning experience. Through lessons on watershed dynamics, students were able to build watershed models and discuss the impact of industrialization on San Diego Bay and its surrounding environment. Science to Stewardship is just one example of our commitment to educating the next generation of environmental stewards.
Informing Policy-Makers for Cleaner Waters
San Diego’s rivers, streams, beaches, and bays suffered for years due to the lack of comprehensive and current data. Our work changed that.
From 2008 to 2018, we ran California’s largest volunteer-based freshwater quality monitoring program and collected valuable data on San Diego’s inland rivers and streams. We submitted this data to the California Environmental Data Exchange Network for approval by the State Water Resources Control Board and Environmental Protection Agency. They used this data in their latest 2020-2022 California Integrated Report, which “prioritizes impaired waterbodies for actions to restore water quality for human and wildlife uses,” to identify hundreds of new streams needing attention.
Our water quality monitoring data informs policy and decision-makers about the health of our waters, leading them to dedicate more cleanup, restoration, and regulation resources to keeping San Diego’s waterways clean.
Improving Stormwater Pollution Management in San Marcos
Coastkeeper and our partners at CERF recently reached an agreement with the City of San Marcos to improve its management of stormwater pollution resulting from large-scale construction projects. The agreement came after a Clean Water Act citizen lawsuit found the City violating the state’s regional stormwater discharge permit. The San Marcos Creek is a vital wildlife corridor connecting upstream and downstream habitat areas and is one of the few undeveloped natural stretches in the central San Marcos area. Without proper management, construction sites can unleash enormous amounts of fine sediment that can harm aquatic life by clogging fish gills, hindering photosynthesis, and wiping out microorganisms vital to the food web. The agreement involves the City’s investment in infrastructure improvements, capital projects, enhanced watershed assessments, and training of City staff to minimize stormwater’s impacts on local waterways, including San Marcos Creek.
The Otay Valley Cleanup and Restoration Series
San Diego Coastkeeper partnered with Otay Valley Regional Park and the City of San Diego to complete our first inland cleanup series. The Otay Valley Regional Park spans 8,500 acres of open space, encompassing 13 miles of waterways and supporting diverse habitats and biological communities such as salt ponds, sensitive native riparian corridors, and migratory birds. This cleanup series followed the path of the Otay River, working from inland headwaters to the coast, and was comprised of four separate events. Each event involved a cleanup, tree planting or invasive removal efforts, and educational talks from local park rangers on native plants and animals. The volunteer-led efforts provided a unique opportunity for community members to give back and help restore the park. The Otay Valley Cleanup and Restoration Series exemplifies our commitment to preserving and restoring our local environment.
Investigating Harmful “Forever” Chemicals in Our Waters
We joined forces with Sweetwater Brewing Company and Green Flash Brewing Company to participate in the Waterkeeper Alliance’s nationwide PFAS study. PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever” chemicals, are a group of manufactured chemicals used in consumer and industrial products for many years. They are persistent in the environment and can threaten the health of humans and wildlife. By taking samples from Chollas Creek, we gained valuable insight into the presence of these chemicals upstream and downstream in our local rivers. Through this partnership, we continued to promote clean and safe water in San Diego.
Welcoming New College Corps Fellows
In 2022, we welcomed three new College Corps fellows as part of our partnership with the University of San Diego. Ellie Skjersaa, Lex Padilla, and Lola Schettini Ramirez joined the San Diego Coastkeeper team and brought their skills and passion to support our communications, outreach, education, and science programs. As the first cohort of #CaliforniansForAll College Corps students, the fellows received a $10,000 award for their community service, which would help them pay for college. The team was excited to have these talented students on board and is eager to see the impact they would make in the coming months.
Engaging Communities During Earth Month
During April, we celebrated Earth Month by connecting with local communities and exploring the relationship between water and the region through Happy Earth Hours, an entertaining series of educational happy hours. With the support of Hunter Industries and Pure Project Balboa Park, attendees from various backgrounds and careers participated in in-depth discussions about the challenges and opportunities of water supply and pollution. Our witty hosts guided the conversation from the basics of water systems to the future of water in San Diego, covering topics such as the impact of the climate crisis and aging infrastructure and alternatives to traditional water supply methods.
Following the Happy Earth Hour events in April, we created an online story map highlighting our journey through San Diego’s water supply cycle. This in-depth water resource guide features interactive elements, including maps, visualizations, videos, and other aspects of research conducted for the series.
Exploring the Wonders of Wetlands
In celebration of Latino Conservation Week, our BIPOC Youth Science Program teamed up with San Diego Audubon Society to participate in the Discover Your Wetlands (Descubre Sus Humedales) bike-and-bird event. Our students explored the ecological wonders of wetlands and learned about the importance of preserving these vital habitats. The journey took us to the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay, where the students could observe birds and learn about their life strategies and behavior. The students participated in hands-on activities at the reserve, including native plant seed collection and seine fishing techniques. They also shared their experiences and knowledge about water quality testing, demonstrating the impact of our program on increasing science literacy and environmental stewardship among BIPOC youth in our communities.
Empowering BIPOC Youth for Environmental Careers
To support the BIPOC Youth Science Program, we partnered with professional development coach Taryell Simmons to provide five career workshops. The workshops focused on elevator pitches, interview skills, resume building, networking, and in-demand jobs. We aim to encourage program participants to build their careers in the environmental field with the tools and resources presented during these workshops. With a focus on equity and science literacy, this approach will help address barriers and provide real-world experiences to increase engagement and representation in environmental stewardship.
|Management and General||$50,651|
Funders and Donors
Cathy Stiefel and Keith Behner
City of San Diego
Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation
Coast Law Group, LLP
Dorrance Family Foundation
Resources Legacy Fund Land – Sea Connection program made possible by the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment
David Welborn and Ann Hunter-Welborn
The San Diego Foundation
County of San Diego
Hervey Family Non-endowment Fund at The San Diego Foundation
MUFG Union Bank Foundation
The Elwyn Heller Foundation of San Diego
M. House Family Fund
Mike and Susanna Flaster
|Atlas General Insurance Services||Jack Brown and Jan Chatten-Brown||Robert and Allison Price|
|Avner Tamari||James Givens||San Diego BTS Army 7 In Honor Of Jimin Park|
|BAE Systems||Jerome Turk||San Diego Jewish Academy|
|Boston Consulting Group||Jordan Neysmith||San Diego Unified Port District|
|Bright Green Family Fund||JP Morgan Chase||Schmidt Design Group|
|Bryce Kroha and Sierra Visher Kroha||Kate Svitek Memorial Foundation||Seismic Software|
|Carl Davidson||Kirei USA||Shell Singal|
|Cibus US, LLC||Lee Duran||SIMA Environmental Fund|
|David Allgeyer and Melinda Look||Momentus Capital||Steven Bronson|
|Elementary Institute of Science||NanoCellect Biomedical||Susie Armstrong|
|Emergent Biosolutions||National Business Aviation Association||Tershia d’Elgin|
|Environmental Incentives||Okta||The RMR Group, LLC|
|Four Fin||Oregon Community Foundation||The Samuel I. & John Henry Fox Foundation|
|Gatto, Pope & Walwick, LLP||Parks California||The Toro Company|
|Hans & Margaret Doe Charitable Trust||Price Philanthropies Foundation||Troutman Pepper|
|Illumina||PricewaterhouseCoopers||University of San Diego|
Friends of Rose Creek
John and Nuri Pierce
Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation
Plato’s Closet Escondido
Robert and Cecile Holmes In Honor of Kristin and Tony Wenderoth
Rocco Cappetta via the Cappetta Family Foundation
Salmon Family Foundation
Annette Myer In Memory of Lou Millaci
Barbara Peterson In Memory of Lucy Wathen
Barry Ginsberg In Honor Of Kara Millaci
Blue Shield of California
Clam & Clasp
Cynthia and Dan Kronemyer
Ed and Carolyn Parrish
Enrico Del Mar In Memory of Jamie Lynn Koch
Environmental Health Coalition
Erendira Berenice Garcia
Evari Consulting Inc.
FM Global Foundation
H J Walker Jr
Heloísa De Oliveirra
Jacquelyn Diaz In Honor of Marie Diaz
Jayne Coley In Memory Of Aidan Sheahan
Jill Witkowski Heaps
Joe and Tori Callahan
John Anthony Jauregui III In Memory of Steve Irwin
John McDonough and Mitzi Belknap
John Murdzek In Honor Of Liz Kemp
Juliana Marques Brown
Katz & Associates
Kerry Beth Daly
Kristen and Jim Smith
Laurie and Jeff Lindeneau
Linda Pass In Honor Of Seekey Cacciatore
Lucky Seven Foundation
Lydia Van Note
Mary Kristina Koenig Oliver
|Matt and Cheri O’Malley|
Memphis and Maddie Mcconnell
Mike and Jackie Wasiluk
Nancy and Mike O’Sullivan
Patti Saraniero and Ben Thoron
Regina Van Griehuysen
Robert and Cecile Holmes In Honor Of Elizabeth and Family
San Diego Audubon
San Diego Tempeh
Scott Monteath In Honor of Gordon and Leslie Monteath
Susan Mitchell and Patrick O’Neil
Tanner Malkoff In Honor of Cole Malkoff
Teri and Paul Williams In Memory Of Stephen Brown
Tom Conklin In Honor Of Ava Zacharuk
United Health Group
Vann and Carol Parker
Academy of Our Lady of Peace
Andrea Sanchez Davidson
Bill Endicott II
Brenda Thibodeaux Harris
Cassie Dexter Torti
Cesar De Alba
Daniel Moradzadeh In Honor Of Bijan Afar
Denise Hlavka In Honor of Matt O’Malley
Flor Hernandez Stovall
Gale Krause In memory of James Krause
Guillermo Lopez Guzman
Jaclyn M de Agustin
Justin Croskery In Memory Of Dianna Fleer
Kameron Ward In Honor Of Norman Johnson III
Karen Ellis Harrington
Karim El All
Kennedy Gammage In Honor of Lindsay Sullivan
Kiera Murphy In Memory of Ken Thiltgen
Marco Rodrigo de la Torre
Pamela and John Heatherington
Patricia Butler and Cary Lowe
Pedro Da Silva
Reyna Marisol Carrillo
Valentina Solomita In Memory Of Giuseppe Solomita
|Phillip Musegaas||Executive Director and Waterkeeper||He/Him/His|
|Matt O’Malley*||Executive Director and Managing Attorney||He/Him/His|
|Stephanie Ritter*||Development Director||She/Her/Hers|
|Patrick McDonough||Senior Attorney||He/Him/His|
|Rachele Lopez||Director of Science||She/Her/Hers|
|Marie Diaz||Marine Programs Manager||She/Her/Hers|
|Alyssa Senturk||Communications and Outreach Director||She/They|
|Lucero Sanchez||Community Policy Coordinator||She/Her/Hers|
|Delanie Medina||Education Manager||She/Her/Hers|
|Jenny Cornelius*||Operations and Engagement Coordinator||She/Her/Hers|
|Ellie Skjersaa||College Corps Fellow||She/Her/Hers|
|Lex Padilla||College Corps Fellow||She/Her/Hers|
|Lola Schettini Ramirez||College Corps Fellow||She/Her/Hers|
*Left Coastkeeper in 2022 We miss you!
|Chanté Coleman||Board President|
|Cindy Lin*||Board President|
|Michael Torti||Board Vice President|
|Diane Castañeda||Board Secretary|
|Bruce Reznik||Board Member|
|Joe Callahan||Board Member|
|Tyler Hee||Board Member|
|Lee Duran||Board Treasurer|
|Sri Cressy||Board Member|
|Catherine Stiefel||Advisory Committee Chair|
|Jim Perry||Science Advisor|
*Left Coastkeeper in 2022. We miss you!